The Packington is an extraordinary inner London housing estate twice demolished and rebuilt in less than fifty years. AiR leads a cross generational neighbourhood exchange, Pack *Art, which has included a mass string phone, a mobile print-making trailer, a film of residents waving at each other, a recording studio/trolley, a meanwhile gallery in the ex-marketing suite, a cinema for one household at a time in a shipping container, open mic performance nights. A permanent living artwork co-produced with residents, ‘I Can Believe in Things Which are True’ by Dmitri Galitzine was installed in October 2019.
Some of our questions during this staying: What is an ‘art that comes to meet us’? Where are the edges of place in an increasingly digital world? What does this particular local reflect about the bigger picture in times of climate crisis, global pandemic, austerity and Brexit? What happens when art is asked to be a hook for something else? What can we make together in close proximity as we practice social distance?
We recently published two books – ‘that’s not how I remember it’ offers an insider the unwritten rules of community on a sixties estate and ‘Packington Works’ explores the possibilities of making art with your neighbours by gathering Claudia Janke’s multiple works made on the Packington between 2003 and 2023. Previously ‘In Colour’ asked ‘what would you like to say to your neighbour?’ and ‘what would you like your neighbour to say to you?’. During the global pandemic we continued to make work alongside each other on doorsteps and pavements, in playgrounds and parks, in ‘Close Distance’.
Made in public in cooperation and collaboration, these artworks are things to notice and prompts for unexpected conversations – between neighbours, passers-by, strangers. As the Packington finds new feet, there is an accompanying sense of loss for an old place that is literally and emotionally buried beneath the new. The artists’ processes open space for the Packington communities to consider this huge moment of change and find individual and collective visibility as the last of the 791 households unpack.
This Packington staying developed from a commission by Hyde Housing to meet a Section 106 condition with support from Arts Council England. The continuing programme is supported by Hyde, Islington Community Chest, National Lottery Awards for All, Heritage Lottery Fund, our LBI councillors, and Arts Council England Emergency Funding, Just Ask Services, Cleanscapes City Plumbing. Thank you to Pollard Thomas Edwards, Islington Council, Tintype Gallery, Cubitt, Richard Cloudesley School, St James Church, ARC, Pophams Bakery, Waterside Adventure Playground for their generosity and cooperation. AiR artists at the Packington include Janette Parris, Dmitri Galitzine, Claudia Janke, Claudia Schenk, Shepherd Manyika, Ross Belton, Yasmine Yer, Sam Blunden, Finn Thompson, Emily Stapleton Jefferis, Charise Johnson, Suki Chan, Felix Dean, Charlene Sandy, Kally Laurence, Heiba Lamara, Shelagh Mccarthy, Maeve Laurence, Rubie Green, Anna Hart. The White Pube have been critics-in residence 2018/19, 2021, 2023. The astute Pack*Art Panel, six Packington residents, co-produce the programme with us.