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It’s been a quiet start to the week here in Bigland Towers as the pair of us have been slaving over hot computers, ploughing through work that needs to be done. It was a shame as the weather was far better than was forecast. I could have been out with the camera working on another project I need to complete – but ho hum. What matters is that things are getting done as I need to clear the decks (and my desk) before Friday. To that end, scanning old slides is having to take a backseat once more, despite the fact I’ve only a handful of pages left to scan in the present album in the queue. Writing for money has to take precedence!

That means tonight’s pictures are last trip down memory lane for a little while, but I think it’s a good one…

Today’s pictures were taken in East London way back in 1993. This anonymous house, the last survivor of its terrace was number 193 Grove Road. The chap who resided there was a retired docker named Sydney Gale who’d lived in the property since 1939 and he wasn’t happy with the council, who were rehousing him in order to demolish the property to incorporate the land into a new park – hence the protest placard across the top windows. I was developing an interest in the changing face of the East End, housing issues and photography, and so one day in April I stopped to document the house. Little did I know just how famous, or contentious, the building was to become….

When Sydney finally departed a temporary lease was granted by the council so that a little-known artist could turn it into a temporary, full-sized sculpture. The artist was called Rachael Whiteread…

Whiteread made a full-sized cast of the inside of all three levels of the the property using thin, reinforced concrete, then tore down the original building to leave the cast of the interior still standing. ‘House’ as the sculpture was simply titled was unveiled to the public in October 1993 and generated a huge amount of publicity, both positive and negative. It was loved and loathed in equal measure. I stopped by one foggy morning in November to take these pictures. The fog seemed to make the building even more poignant.

‘House’ was always intended to be temporary, but there was a petition started to save it and even a motion in the House of Commons, but a prominent local Councillor hated it. ‘House’ won Whiteread the Turner prize on the 23rd November 1993. The very same day the council voted to demolish it. It was flattened in January 1994 and no trace of it remains. You can read more about ‘House’ here.

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