Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles magazine, and beyond.
An artist's collection of "postcards" offers a grim and hilarious view of the hyper-developing city.
Big Ben, bobbies on bicycles, a darkened pub flying the Union Jack on its doorpost: Such is London, if you've ever received a postcard from there. But for many residents, those quaint popular images are laughable compared to how the city increasingly appears. A dense forest of cranes looms above the skyline. High-rises shoot up like bamboo. With the population booming and a manic surge of capital (both foreign and native) coming in, long-time Londoners are priced out daily, while mansions on "billionaires row" sit rotting and empty.
Maybe it's time to send the world some new views from the city on the Thames. In a new show of original "postcards" at London's Offsite Gallery, British artist and city native Gram Hilleard captures a growing sentiment in town: "Developers, Up Yours." His photo-montages reflect a new London—a London overrun with development, garish wealth, and bereft of what made the city unique. Hilleard states in a press release:
Under the reign of the peroxide clown, London has been redeveloped like never before. The poor are moved out, whilst councils drop their planning regulations for developers to build what they like. Hipsters are encouraged to gentrify, before they’re replaced with overseas buyers. Eventually swathes of the city become uninhabited ghost areas with no citizens, no people. Why and for who?
The postcards are both hilarious and full of grief. See them at the gallery if you can: The show runs through June 7. (Hopefully Mayor Boris "Peroxide Clown" Johnson will be there, too.)