“A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”
A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf, 1929
‘Social Housing NOT Social Cleansing’
Campaign slogan, Focus E15 Mothers, 2015
86 years have passed between the two quotes above.
When Virginia Woolf wrote her seminal essay A Room of One’s Own, she wrote for the need of an inclusive society, for financial independence, and for a safe place to nurture creativity and one’s self.
Flash forward to 2015, and a sad truth we’re still in need. Today, ‘Regeneration’ in London has somehow become ubiquitous with housing evictions. Working class, low-income families, and single parents are forcibly pushed out of communities and neighbor-hoods to make way for the artisan coffee yoga retreat loving trendsetters. As this seemingly unstoppable force seizes over those once utopian social housing projects, and rent price and cost of living increases, we question: how many more lives will go disrupted and uprooted before we realise it affects us all – social housing or otherwise – and the fabric of the city we call home.
Alternative Press’s AROOO is travelling live art participatory installation and sculpture. Inspired by Virginia Woolf and her A Room Of One’s Own, it was transformed into a bedsit and occupied the rooftop of 47/49 Tanner Street for 28 days. With statistic, slogan, and drawings championing the need for equality adorning its walls, AROOO served as a stark warning of the true effect of the housing bubble.
Its 28 day residency coincided with both the General Election and Takeover 2015 – a day where activists, artists, bookshops and publishers came together to celebrate all radical publishing, and where housing campaign groups were invited to speak at Alternative Press’ Speakers’ Corner.
AROOO essentially is a vehicle for collecting thoughts and markings of marginalised communities and people. With each new location, the sculpture highlights/champions a different theme in the Virginia Woolf essay – whether that be gender equality, housing security, or mental wellbeing.
A light ephemeral structure that once began life as a blank canvas, AROOO’s first incarnation was as a project to champion the voices of feminism for 2015’s International Women’s Day. On Sunday 8th March at Strongrooms, Shoreditch, over 50 artists, feminists, supporters, and families joined us to draw, write, and make their mark on the transparent walls of AROOO to turn them opaque – transforming the see-through room to one with security and into an inclusive safe space for all.
We hope to give AROOO a fixed and final home after its residency at Tanner Street. The sculpture’s final metamorphosis will be in the form of a greenhouse and donated to Grow Heathrow.
More information about the concept driving this project and the campaign funding it here.
A gigantic thank you to Sabba Khan and Mark Bonshek as both the force driving the concept and its build. More information about their projects here.