Laura Oldfeild Ford, born 1973. Obtainer her BA at the Slade school and then a Masters from Royal College of art, graduating in 2007. She lived for some years in East London. Specifically around the Lower Lea Valley area.
Oldfeild Ford has been recording areas in London that are earmarked for regeneration as part of an on going project. Most of her drawings are focussed around Stratford and surrounding borough. Her drawings capture the mood and shapes of the area before the Olympic park was built, Completion in 2012. The area is still undergoing regeneration expanding outwards from the park.
London is a site of perpetual construction and destruction. Oldfeild Fords work aims to document area set for regeneration before they change. He drawings also shows an indirect commentary on environmental impact. Where concert jungle denies the presence of anything natural.
2013 project entitled: Drifting through the Ruins, Consists of over 100 drawings that document condemned sites. Tower blocks, empty shut up shopping precincts, industrial estates, cannel ways, concert bridges covered in graffiti is where Oldfield Ford finds her inspiration.
Not only do these drawings stand as excellently drafted, detailed recordings of areas set to be cleansed from the face of the city. But also the artist emotional response to the subjects are clear. Many are drafted using a humble biro with a wash in places to bring out light dark contrast. Often the drawing are accompanied by scrawled righting. the type you might find in public loos. This can be representational of the occupants thoughts. The anxieties that may come from living in a run down area.
Flurried colours are used in a lot of these drawings. Florissant pink is a favourite. This echoes the graffitied walls and speaks of inner city counter culture . Gang land style graffiti also gives the vista’s a feeling of hostility. The mono tone way the artist has chosen to draw the buildings, the abandoned streets, evidence of degeneration bordering on decay together with the graffiti and uneasy colour washes all give the feeling ‘you don’t want to spend the night round here’.
The drawings themselves included strong architectural elements where the artist demonstrates an easy use of accurate perspective and attention to the finest detail. Tiny bricks are each individually drawn. Far high rise building show different reflections and lay outs in each window. The foliage of trees and bushes where they start to reclaim abandoned sites are given as much attention as the building. The foliage is present both in mass clusters and individual leaf marks with beautiful nuances of light and dark. The drawing style is sensitive and considered. Something you don’t really take in on first glance as the scrawled graffiti and luminous pink washes distract the attention.
I really like the way she balances positive and negative space. Some thing I’m yet to conquer. It adds to the graphic novel feel these drawings have. Like they are sets awaiting the characters. Although they may be palaces even super hero avoid.
Laura Oldfeild Ford, artist, phychogeographer, and some time political activist, has now moving on to a new project. For her 2013 Stanley Picker Fellowship project she will be looking at disaffected areas around London Surrey borders. She hopes to collect folk tales, collective memory, the politics of contemporary protest along with the physical marks in the landscape.
The view from my flat is by no means one of inner city decline more of suburban new town. The area I live in is a large development sight. My flat sits in one of the first plots of land to be finished. The project when finished will cover a vast area. Just beyond the park I hear the earth work machinery carving up the land to lay roads. Then the house building will begin.
The area is undergoing regeneration. The landscape is a changing. Perhaps the development and the way I feel about it is something I could bring to my drawings.
So how do I feel about the on going development? A sense of lose. A sense of new beginnings. Fear of the unknown. I am torn between nature and progress. I am saddened by mans never ending urban sprawl across the plant. At the same time I live here. It has provided me with a nice home. My own little warren/bolt hole. So I feel hypocritical. On the one hand saddened by the lose of natural habitats. On the other happy to have my own human habitat to live in. It was farm land before so already taken form nature. although many species live more comftabaly with farm land than the urban environment. The new landscape is undoubtedly suburban. How might I give a feeling on surberbia using colour and texture? How could I bring in a sense of the farm land that is lost?