An artist who spent a year “in residence” in Peterborough has had a book chronicling her experiences published.
Re: development is a new book by artist Jessie Brennan that brings together voices, cyanotypes and writings from The Green Backyard, the city’s community growing project in Oundle Road, which is threatened with a proposed development by its owner, Peterborough City Council.
It is an attempt to explore in the site one of Britain’s most contested territories: land ownership, and its radical political shift from communal to private.
This project is a collaboration between Jessie and the people who use and care for The Green Backyard.
It questions the capitalist logic of a proposed development of The Green Backyard and intends to offer alternative evidence in the form of a visual and audio archive – over 100 cyanotypes and more than 100 oral recordings contributed by visitors and volunteers at the site – for the current social use and value of the land.
It is a contribution to the debates impacting communities across the UK, and raises many questions about what this community (and many others engaged in volunteer-run urban green spaces) stand to lose if the land were to be lost to development.
It looks at how financialisation of land and property is reconfiguring whole swathes of Britain’s cities from public to private, as a result of redevelopment. Peterborough, with its rapid expansion of housing, population and economic growth, alongside its environmental aspirations, is no exception: land is becoming a contested space with its uses bitterly argued over.
Contributing authors include Sophie Antonelli (activist and co-founder of The Green Backyard).
The book is an outcome of Jessie’s year-long residency with arts organisation Metal and funded by Arts Council England, Seedbed Trust, Peterborough Presents, and The Bartlett, UCL (through the artist’s Bartlett Visiting Research Fellowship, 2016).
A copy of the book can be purchased from AA Bookshop or online at aabookshop.net: Re: development: Voices, Cyanotypes & Writings from The Green Backyard by Jessie Brennan, (Silent Grid, 2016).