TAKING OVER A HOUSING ESTATE
The King’s Land is an urban art installation consisting of a series of drawing-based murals on the exterior walls of an East London housing estate undergoing the process of large scale regeneration. The estate, the Kingsland Estate off the Kingsland Road in Haggerston, is due for demolition later in the year and for now much of it is depopulated and bricked up. But there are still tenants, awaiting rehousing, and many neighbours in the area. The King’s Land aims to bring a dramatic eruption of art into this dreary urban landscape.
It started here:
Studio 75, Laburnum Street E2
mural Nazir Tanbouli 2011
In January 2011 we moved into a studio on the Kingsland Estate. It looked a bit grim so I got my paint and painted a mural on the wall outside my door. Attention soon followed; neighbours came out and watched and people stopped and snapped pictures..
To my surprise, one of the neighbours contacted local paper The Hackney Gazette and was quoted saying this:
“I’m generally not fond of graffiti but this is more like graphic art and has changed the building .It has brightened up the area and made people feel good. It’s brilliant. It’s a very busy sort of road. It does brighten up my day. I can see it from my kitchen. I was astounded when the artist did it – it takes my breath away. The building is 1930s or post war and is due to be knocked down. We need more places like that, it’s old and an eye sore, the places need brightening up.”
Since this, our neighbour has became a permanent friend of our studio (Studio75) and a regular visitor to our exhibitions; he has not been the only one who suggested that we do more of the same and cover more of the buildings to change the depressing nature of the semi derelict housing estate.
In the spring of 2011 I painted another mural, on a hoarding behind the estate.
above, Whiston Road mural. I wanted to use vibrant colours, give life to the neighbourhood; but the subject matter is kind of dark – typical Nazir Tanbouli stuff.
Again, I got a lot of feedback from local people who really enjoyed the way my work was bringing some liveliness to the neighbourhood. Many people asked me if I could please just cover all the buildings. At first I laughed then I thought “why not”? If they like my work and I like to make work, then why on earth not. I’ve always dreamed of being able to work on such a huge scale. A lot of the estate is bricked up, and residents are waiting to be rehoused. So it looks quite grim, especially when the weather is grey. I thought “what about turning this into a kind of strange planet of freaks? Cartoony, crazy fun creatures jumping off the walls and hanging on the buildings? Make people smile.
I got permission from the owners of the buildings, and figured out how I could do the project on almost-zero budget. As a fine art painter and mural artist, I’ve never done “graffiti” but I knew I’d have to have a graffiti budget! This means no colour, so my graphic drawing has to carry it alone. It’s a challenge, and I can’t deny it!
Please feel free to send me your feedback and any questions!
Nazir Tanbouli, March 2012