This week we were thinking about our new project, 'From Beer Street to Gin Lane and back again'. It is based on two images by William Hogarth, Beer Street and Gin Lane:
There are big differences because in 1751 when this etching was made gin was very cheap and badly made. Poorer people often because addicted and this had a negative effect on their lives. In Beer Street people are noticeable wealthier and more productive - which came first, the poverty, addiction, or destructive behaviour? This is the kind of think we still ask ourselves when we see homeless people on the streets today. It is a very caricatured way of looking at the world, the people are not layered or nuanced. It is English satire as we have come to know it.
We were given the pawn shop as our area to explore and respond to as a group. I am thinking of some ideas for this:
-A prop like a cabinet or objects that have been pawned.
-A performance or installation, for example items of great value to me that the public can take away at a price.
-Could I ask people to donate their prized possessions just for the duration of our performance/ exhibition?
-Could I do something about exchange and value? how much is a good deed worth? What would you give to get the thing you most want?
-I looked into the Foundling Museum, which used to be an orphanage that William Hogarth helped found along with Handel the composer and others. Each child was given a keepsake - their only connection with their parents. I found this incredibly moving and fascinating at how valuable these items may or may not have become to the children- a connection with their identity. At the moment at work I am helping an academic set up interviews with people in the Afghan community about the objects they have brought with them to the UK and how they remember Afghanistan through these interviews. perhaps I can use her research somehow.
© Elizabeth Kendal, all rights reserved