Until recently King's House in Hove was the primary headquarters of Brighton and Hove City council. Built between 1871 and 1874, it was originally 7 mansion blocks to house the wealthy on Hove seafront. It is a grade 11 listed building and it’s short but colourful history has seen it exchange hands and consequently its purpose quite a few times.
At the beginning of the century it was redesigned into The Prince's hotel, and was evacuated and taken over by the Royal Navy during the second world war. It was then sold to the Southern Eastern electricity board and then to Brighton and Hove city council in 1996. It has now been sold again to Morta Nova Grand Avenue who are a very new property firm who have bought Kings House for 26 million pounds and intend to transform it luxury residential properties.
I was fortunate enough to gain access towards the end of the moving period when they had ceased operations. I had originally visited there to collect stationery and any other second hand goods that were being managed by the Brighton Waste House team and instantly became fascinated by the general atmosphere and eeriness of the place.
I walked around this enormous space, through empty rooms and corridors that were clearly office based into grand banquet rooms with chandeliers and exquisite 70’s designed on suite bathrooms. The space exhibits a variety of purposes and personalities where history and architecture are mismatched and one space transports you into a completely different one.
In many of the rooms, there were clear signs of abandonment, as though everyone had just stood up and walked out but had left a part of themselves there. In one of the images there is a post-it note on a bookshelf saying ‘she can’, in another image there are chairs sitting alone in the centre of a room. The style and design also varies and it is clear that the building has been refurbished numerous times to accommodate its changing purpose.
I wanted to convey predominantly the lonely and eerie atmosphere that I found there and record the building as a public space before it becomes a private space yet again. I am also concerned with it’s significance in terms of the changes Brighton and Hove Council have undertaken over the last 5 years by selling off many of their primary buildings. Throughout Brighton and Hove and the surrounding areas, historic and listed buildings are being privately bought to build luxury apartments which are not there to create ‘affordable’ housing for the residents of the city but to generate revenue from new investors and individuals migrating to the city.
This is certainly the case with the former ice rink in the centre of Brighton that sits on the edge St Nicolas church. This site was disputed for many years between developers and local residents who are against having the site transformed into luxury holiday apartments at the edge of the church which was built in 1086. This has also happened with the former Brighton and hove council building by Brighton train station which is currently in mid demolishment while the property developers dispute their requirement to provide a minimum of affordable housing flats. Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove council struggle to house residents on the council waiting list due to the shortage of housing and residents are moving to the outskirts of Brighton and to neighbouring towns such as Shoreham and Worthing to rent and buy property. Areas that are now beginning to suffer from the same issues as they become ‘up and coming’.
The future of King’s House is still unknown. Warren Morgan, a council leader expressed that he was happy that the building would be ‘brought back into beneficial use’ and that ‘Selling King’s House will save 2 million a year in operation costs, with money already invested in better customer services for residents both online and in Hove town hall’ Although I understand that running a building like King’s House would be costly and not necessarily money well spent for the council, will private investors consider the housing needs of local residents? I imagine that they will want their 26 million back with interest and that King’s House will now become just another luxury housing block in a prime location in Brighton.
You could argue, that a building built with the focus of providing housing for the wealthy has returned to it’s original state but in this changing economic and social landscape, it seems to be a regressive step forward. Either way, King’s House in all it’s unusual and grand design will be torn out and replaced by generic, modern and ‘clone’ like, uniformed flats that rip away it’s history and disregard its heritage.
I feel fortunate to have captured an important part of Brighton and Hove’s heritage before it is yet again swallowed up by capitalism. I would like to return to King’s House once it has been refurbished to see how it has changed and what it’s new lease of life will be.
Expectations and Lessons in Forgiveness
These images as a collective represent an absence of someone or something. Each signal image is a personal representation of my relationships with others and there is a dance and communication taking place between the elements in each. It is also very much about renewal and rebirth and the reflective process we embark on once a change has taken place.
They form a narrative which explores change and the conflict that ensues as I try to accept the mercurial landscape around me. Within a larger context, this work examines the transient nature of life and the relationships we share with others. It comments on how space evokes nostalgia and explores the interactions and moments that sit in between.
'The Factory’ is an ongoing project that documents industrial sites and factories, either disregarded or in operation. These images, although few, are taken in New Zealand, Barcelona, Paris and Brighton.
Usually placed on the outskirts of cities, I aim to find the comical nuances between the objects that reside in an otherwise bland and harsh environment.
While on the way to you
When I was a child, my mother and I used to travel to Sheffield often to visit my grandparents. I used to sit there with my walkman listening to my 2 albums, which at the time were Gloria Estefan and Blondie. Apart from being the coolest kid in town with these town albums (No really, it was the 90’s) they allowed me to completely disengage from the world around me. I would fall into a trance looking out of the window, thinking about my life but mostly fantasizing about the things I dreamed would happen. I would imagine that I was a dancer and I would choreograph pieces in my head based on the landscape I was viewing out of the window.
As I got older and began to travel on my own, these fantasies grew and became complete emotional tidal waves on which to ride on. Listening to music and looking at the trees as they danced with ferocity at my side, I would be filled with emotion and while at university began to photograph this occurrence.
‘While on my way to you’ is an ongoing project that records and attempts to communicate this process. Travelling allows us to escape our life in many ways, before we had our laptops and internet on our phones, we would simply stare out of the window with our music on or read a book. Now people are expected to see this as an extension of the office where they can still get work done on their way to work, something that I feel is a very sad reality of the modern age.
This project aims to evoke emotion and nostalgia. I am concerned with how ephemeral the landscape becomes when travelling at speed and in photographic form, how the images created replicate painting and drawings. These images attempt to communicate my personal connection with the individuals I am visiting and how my feelings change and develop while travelling to and from places. For me, travel is personal thing, I am always going to see someone or I am leaving someone, the imagery evokes these emotions and creates a visual landscape of feeling as opposed to purpose.
Whitehawk sits on the boundaries of Brighton and is one of the earliest recorded settlements in the South East. After the second world war, council housing was built to house the residents who had lost their homes.
Today, Whitehawk remains one of the largest council housing estates in Brighton and very much has it's own community and identity. I have visited Whitehawk on numerous occasions and continue to do so.
'IMBUE' is a playful look at how nature and the current world interact with each other. In our modern and ever changing world, I often notice, small parts of nature peeking through, always trying to find it’s place and coexist with the bricks and concrete that surround it.
I like to bring these two elements together and look at how they create similar forms or/and become an extension of one another.
This is work in progress and develops as and when I see these occurrences take place.