LONDONERS AT HOME: The Way We Live Now
I had hoped that, following the same pattern as the two, earlier parts of the Trilogy, there would be an exhibition of the completed project, Londoners at Home: The Way We Live Now, at some point during the course of 2019/20. And, as with its predecessors, it was originally envisaged that such an exhibition might be mounted in the Crypt Gallery at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Alas, untoward events have intervened: following a major review of the church’s policy with regard to not-for-profit activity and the overriding need to generate income to sustain its extensive and vital charity work, all non-profit-making undertakings have been suspended for the time being. This means that Part III of the London Trilogy could no longer be exhibited there. Sadly, I was therefore obliged to look for an alternative venue.
The two previous exhibitions were seen by thousands of people and both attracted a great deal of interest and, indeed, generated some polemics. A similar reception might reasonably have been expected for the exhibition of the concluding part of the Trilogy which, through sixty-four examples, illuminates aspects of the manifold lives of ‘Londoners at home’. With this in mind, and with Gerald’s able assistance, I worked tirelessly throughout the course of 2019 to find an alternative venue. Clearly, a suitable space would need to be somewhere with extensive and easy public access, so we wrote to all London’s major public or charity-sponsored venues (The Geffrye Museum of the Home, The Museum of London, The Southbank, The Photographers’ Gallery, Project Space, etc, etc) but most of these venues didn’t even bother to reply with so much as a one-line rejection eMail.
None of this came as much of a surprise: such organisations would no doubt respond if there were generous sponsorship associated with the proposed exhibition, or some high-profile artist or media personality were to lend their name to the promotion of the event. One must also not forget that all of these establishments have influential curators and directors who jealously determine what is to be seen in their galleries, and that most of these specialists are striving to build up, for both personal and aesthetic reasons, their own individual catalogues of exhibitions and shows - their professional careers depend upon it. Showing the finished work of an outsider, work that has not been commissioned and to which they have made no curatorial input, is nowadays almost inconceivable.
The last hope was City Hall, from which a positive response to our proposal had initially been received. Because they were in the midst of revising their own procedures, we were asked to resubmit the application, twice, which we duly did without complaint, and they promised to finalise their list of exhibitions for 2020 and to let us know. We have now waited for almost 6 months and, regardless of the prompts, 2020 is just around the corner, so it must be assumed that City Hall is not interested in this work either and, like so many other places, cannot even make the effort to let us know.
Having invested considerable energy into the creation of a third, limited-edition, hard-back book (plus a much more affordable e-book) I had hoped that an exhibition of Londoners at Home: The Way We Live Now would have drawn the London Trilogy to a handsome conclusion, but unfortunately it now seems that this is not to be.
I was determined to keep the London Trilogy as an entirely non-commercial project and this has certainly been achieved, although it has cost me personally many thousands of pounds. However, despite the final disappointment of there being no exhibition of Londoners at Home, the collective endeavour of everyone who has been involved with the project over the last decade has secured a great deal: each project’s website will continue to be maintained for several more years (as long as resources permit); two handsome exhibitions have been mounted at St Martin-in-the-Fields; three very lavish, hard-back books have been published, all of which have been lodged with the British Library and the UK’s other copyright libraries, becoming a timeless part of London’s history; and three, modestly-priced e-books have also been published online, making the entire Trilogy easily accessible to everyone, anywhere in the world.
Page modified: 31th December 2019