Aug 12, 2010

Around town: faces in windows

Samuel House Residents, Hackney
I first caught a glimpse of these portraits while on the Haggerston train, heading for Brick Lane. What's that about? I wondered.
Samuel House Residents, Hackney
Curious about these giant faces covering windows, I returned via Regent's Canal Walk yesterday while the fickle sun was shinning.
Samuel House Residents, Hackney
Turns out these photographs of residents have replaced the orange boards that were used to cover the empty flats in Samuel House of Haggerston Estate in East London. The estate is currently being redeveloped and using these portraits is the brain child of I Am Here, an arts project initiated by artists who are themselves long-term residents of Samuel House. They say, I Am Here "shows the faces of ordinary people so often excluded from the visual material produced to market an up-and-coming area by estate agents, developers, private landlords, local councils and other stakeholders."

Their aim is to humanize a piece of architecture on its final journey by challenging onlookers to ask questions. In this they have succeeded. As I sat on a bench along the canal in front of Samuel House, writing in my moleskine, I heard several people passing by wonder what these photos could mean as I did. What great street art! It certainly compelled me to investigate the meaning behind this piece and with a little googling, all was revealed.

Photography by Shehani Kay. Samuel House is located alongside Regents Canal in between Kingsland Road and Victoria Park in Hackney, London.


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