Hackney estate of mind

Hackney-based artist Frank Laws’ latest show, Pembury, delves into one of the most notorious estates in the east London borough – a centre for the 2011 riots, a space filled with stories good and bad, and an area that acts as a emblem of regeneration.

Pembury Wall, 2013
Pembury Wall, 2013

Simply entitled Pembury 2014, the exhibition – to be staged at nearby space L’Entrepôt on Dalston Lane – delves into the oppositions of the personal and the public (billowing laundry hints at life inside the houses, meticulous attention to brickwork forces the viewer into a voyeuristic position); as well as between regeneration and history.

Robbery, 2013
Robbery, 2013

The Pembury estate has been standing since 1938, and the tales the bricks could tell from the last 80 or so years have long fascinated Laws.

Frank Laws at work
Frank Laws at work

‘I started looking at the Pembury estate in 2010’, he explains. ‘There’s always been quite negative connotations with estates – especially that one, maybe. In the face of all the changes it gives little snapshots of people’s lives focusing on one or two windows’.

He adds, ‘I’ve lived in the area for about five years and always found it really interesting – especially with the new-build’.

Burchington House, 2014
Burchington House, 2014

The shiny new Pembury Circus housing development recently opened its many bright new doors, and stands as a testament to the rapid changes in the area, even in the half decade since Laws made it his home.

The artist, however, focuses only on the older estate, delineating its real and imagined history through pen and ink observations of the brickwork that forms it – an interest honed during a year spent working for a bricklayer.

A workshop in action.
A workshop in action.

As well as his own depictions of the buildings, Law involved children from the estate in creating work for the show, organising a series of workshops in which they could work with prints he created from a large-scale painting of a Pembury Estate wall.

A workshop participant with his artwork
A workshop participant with his artwork

‘All the kids were really into it’, says Laws. ‘I wanted to involve kids from the estate  itself who might not have a lot of chances to do things like that’.

The results of a workshop
The results of a workshop

Frank Laws: Pembury 2014 runs from 28 March – 27 April at L’entrépot, 230 Dalston Lane, London E8

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