The Ishibadi Buildings – built with all the post-war hopes and optimism for the reconstruction of society – have become a symbol for what community might mean. Small, and with few mod cons, they nevertheless seem to capture a time when neighbours might know neighbours, when there was still space for shared gardens, walkways, places for children to play outside. For me they held a particular potency. Built at the same period as my own council estate house in Leeds.
We (artists, members of the community, members of the university) have been thinking about what home means to us. Reclaiming our own childhood memories, reconstructing and re-visiting the spaces they took place in. Trying to decide whether we were just being nostalgic for other times or whether, in a time when things felt tough again, there were any answers to be found in how we lived then.
Together we recreated both the real places we once occupied and those strange and magical spaces they occupy in our memories.
Situated, as they are, on the boundary between the university and the local community their impending demolition is irreversible. It is too late for protest. But the Japanese law that declares no plot of land may be built on for three years after demolition of a building means there are opportunities within the threats. Possibilities to create a space where the local community and the university might come together. A space to grow things together, eat and drink, share stories. Re-find old connections. Tomorrow we start work on the Ishabadi houses.
Our three themes: Memory, Future and Farewell.
Memory – to honour those who had lived there and the stories they had shared with us.
Future – to offer possible suggestions for the way the land might be used in the next three years.
Farewell – to formalise our goodbyes to the old houses.
Our aesthetic: reclaimed objects, found materials, anything that could be salvaged from the houses and their overgrown gardens, the ‘wasteland’ around.
We wander through the houses again. Seeking for lost treasures. Unearthing relics. Curating demolition.