1. Residency

In 1970 my parents bought their first and only house together. The house is in south London, in one of the outermost London boroughs, at the point where the city ends and Surreyís suburban pastoral begins.

The house itself is now almost a hundred years old. It was built on apple orchards in the aftermath of the First World War by a canny landowner with an eye to developing property close to the expanding suburban rail network. The house was sold along with a long list of regulations and by-laws (long-overlooked by subsequent local residents) but in an attempt on his part to preserve something of the orchardís former bucolic beauty.

An original cooking apple tree still does its best to fruit in the garden to this day. It is almost obscured from the house by an overgrown mound formed on top of another miracle survivor, a Second World War Anderson shelter. I donít know if anyone had to make use of this bomb shelter during the war. Certainly no one risked taking the shelter down at the end of the war just in case of future conflict.

Iím now in the process of selling the house and leaving behind this history. It makes me very aware of notions of home, of how and where we locate ourselves and how we form a sense of belonging.

South London.

Here I am. In temporary residence, as an artist, back in South London, in the University Archives and Special Collections Centre, in the Stanley Kubrick Archive at London College of Communication.

LCC is one of the landmark buildings that frames its home in Elephant and Castle. It is a place that needs framing. Where is Elephant and Castle exactly? Is it simply the name of an area that surrounds a road junction?

LCC puts its roots directly down into this history. It stands on the site of St Peterís Hospital which, from its establishment in 1601 to its removal in 1850, spoke the local communityís conceptualistion of charity, of how to accommodate people of need within the small community. For two hundred and fifty years the hospital served a stable function, a safety net for when life goes wrong for people.

A hundred years later post-war Elephant and Castle was built with a similar degree of civic optimism. The shopping centre that forms the focus of that development was the first covered shopping centre in Europe. In its own small way it was a revolution. It offered a focus for a secular post-war community to share space in a modernised, forward-looking world. The elephant statue that announced the centreís arrival connected the space to the larger world, made a landmark that brought the global into the local. 2017 Elephant and Castle, however, is almost unrecognisable. The sky around the roundabout has filled up with super-structured towers. The new developments so dwarf the existing landscape that it takes a few visits for me not to experience this architectural transformation as if someoneís, literally, always creeping up behind me. Profit has de-housed civic optimism.

Residence. Residents.

The words are in the air below ground and above. Here I am looking at the archive of Stanley Kubrick, a man whose famously reclusive nature was based on the protection and retreat that home could offer him. But today itís hard to forget that it is only a matter of weeks since a fire destroyed Grenfell Tower, north of the river from here, and the ideas of safety and home in any comfortable relation are thrown into horrific question.

Residence. The residents.

Crossing the city the words are repeated in questions in newspapers, on the cityís big screens, in the repeated image of the burnt out tower. There it is. The black burnt block, an existential question mark as bold and as terrifying as Kubrickís imagined monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. His darkness, this darkness: the future and also our shared past. The city is alive once again to the question of what to do when people in its community are in need.

In the archive I look at the research photographs Kubrickís A Clockwork Orange team took of modernist architecture in and around London to research the buildings they could use to create Anthony Burgessí future landscape. LCC makes a brief appearance on one sheet of transparencies. Itís 1970 and a woman has left Europeís first covered shopping centre and is walking towards the new underground station.

Itís 1970 and my parents are moving into a house in south London and are unpacking their few pieces of furniture. Outside apple trees are in blossom in the garden.

Itís 1970 and the area known as Notting Dale which had experienced V-2 bombing during the war has finally been cleared and work has begun on the new Lancaster West estate. Grenfell Tower, its centre point, will be completed and opened two years later.

Itís 1970 and just north of the river an avant-garde department store sends out its own Flying Squad, an exclusive team of women clad in purple catsuits to make home deliveries on their fleet of motorbikes.

Itís 1970 and a film crew have arrived on a housing estate. They are taking a photograph of a central tower block, looking up through a circular architectural detail so that in the image the tower looks looming and dark. Almost unnoticed at the edge of the frame a woman stands on a stool, her clothes protected by a housecoat. She is assiduously washing her windows.

Itís 1970 and for the first time I have a room of my own. It has batons on the ceiling, the only sign of war damage in the house.

Itís 1970. A film crew think they have found the flat they will use as a location for the home of Alex in A Clockwork Orange. A woman and children are photographed in the actual house. In one picture a nearly adolescent girl sits on a kitchen chair. She seems almost oblivious to the picture being taken. Her head is on her hands. In this kitchen, like all the kitchens the production team have photographed today, are three items of equipment. A cooker. A fridge. A sink. At the end of the room behind the girl is the view, and in an exact mirror opposite to the way that Grenfell Tower forms a black square at the centre of repeated news images, here, the window, the view, is a bright white square of light.

The Future. The Past. The hope of a view is the hope of cinema, the modern worldís hope of the projected image on a screen in the dark.

What Kubrick reveals and warns us to watch for, though, is the historical and perennial darkness that always somehow redacts this view.