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Turner Prize artists join backlash against ‘zombie investors’

Contributors to 'Spectres of Modernism' estate installation protest about luxury flats that are being advertised in Hong Kong, with prices starting at £725,000 for a studio

13 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Some of the contributions to the installation

TURNER Prize winners are among the famous names who have contributed to an art installation hitting back at the overdevelopment of the Golden Lane estate.

The project, titled Spectres of Modernism, has seen banners emblazoned with slogans such as “Zombie Investors Take Stock”, “Homes for Heroes”, “children need sunlight to grow” and “parasites will starve in this carcass of culture” pinned to Bowater House, one of the blocks on the estate.

The target is a planned block of 99 luxury apartments by Taylor Wimpey called The Denizen, on the border between Islington and the City.

Flats in the 10-storey building are currently being advertised in Hong Kong, with prices starting at £725,000 for a studio.

A campaign group called Open Golden Lane have applied for a judicial review after the City of London granted planning permission.

‘Spectres of Modernism’ at the Golden Lane estate

According to the Spectres of Modernism website, the banners are intended to “oppose the new development and draw attention to the failure of neo-liberal economics in Britain’s cities; its legacies of social cleansing, housing crisis, and damage to modernist architectural heritage, as well as the art-washing of urban devastation”.

It has been timed to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair, when the ­“international super-rich descend on London to invest in the capital’s cultural products”.

Campaigner Emma Matthews, who also lives in Bowater, said: “The installation has been totally embraced by all the people living here. Some residents have been here since 1957 and no one understands how the City has given this building planning permission, a building which will block up to 70 per cent of sunlight to some of their homes.

“If you look at the Hong Kong Denizen brochure, it’s just obscene. When this process started Taylor Wimpy said they were going to build much-need homes, but who is going to be able to afford these?”

The plans show the building will have private cinemas and marble floors.

The banners aim to ‘oppose the new development and draw attention to the failure of neo-liberal economics in Britain’s cities’

The installation has been curated by Clare Carolin, who has lived in Bowater House, and it features contributions from Turner Prize winners Jeremy Deller and Elizabeth Price, as well as the Booker Prize-nominated novelist Tom McCarthy.

There is also a Spectres of Modernism-related protest fiction project with novelists producing horror stories set in The Denizen.

Taylor Wimpey Central London’s sales and marketing director Darren McCormack said: “We have contributed £4.5million to provide off-site affordable housing as part of our responsibilities for building The Denizen, as agreed with the local council.

“London is a prime location for both domestic and international buyers. Homes at The Denizen were offered for sale in the UK first, as with all of our properties.”

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