The Turner Prize nominee Nathan Coley has gifted the residents of a new social housing scheme in west London with sculptures as part of a project celebrating the history of the site.
The artist’s steel and gold leaf rooftop sculpture at The Silchester (More West), that has been backed by the charitable organisation the Peabody Trust. The work is modelled on a Bramley apple tree; small versions of the same sculpture, or “wee trees” as Coley has titled them, has been gifted by the artist to each of the new residents, with approximately 30 handed out so far out if a total of 112 works.“The large tree is permanent, but the small ones are housewarming presents from me,” Coley told the Art Newspaper.
“The project is about London now: it asks questions about who owns housing, how people pay for where they live, and control and consent issues around property,” Coley stated. The Silchester (More West) stands on a famous former squat area in Notting Hill named Frestonia. The Glasgow-based artist has also created an abstract large-scale public sculpture for the new residential development, which has been designed by Haworth Tompkins architects.
Squatters—including artists, actors and activists—subsequently moved into the Freston Road properties during the 1970s, after the Greater London Council (GLC) moved tenants out of a row of terraced houses in Freston Road, which was then part of the London borough of Hammersmith. The council planned to regenerate the area, and built new blocks of flats nearby during the previous decade.
The GLC planned to demolish these derelict residences in 1977. But In protest, the squatters formed the Free and Independent State of Frestonia, which even had its own exhibition venue for local artists that they christened the Car Breakers Art Gallery.
The 120 residents all adopted the surname of Bramley so that they would be re-housed as a collective. The site was eventually redeveloped and a new association, the Bramleys Housing Co-operative, was formed. An account of the artist’s project ‘To the Bramley Family of Frestonia: Nathan Coley’ – which is published by Anomie Publishing – states how “the self-styled Free Independent Republic of Frestonia formally advised the UN Secretary-General that it had seceded from the United Kingdom.”
Image: courtesy of the artist.