Life on other Lines is an installation of large scale print by Henry Coleman, stuck to the side of a construction hoarding on the corner of Chalton Street and Phoenix Road in Somerstown, between Euston and St Pancras stations.
The project presents a series of ten plotted drawings, scanned and scaled-up, of alternate versions of the nearby Polygon Road (sometimes Oakshott Court) housing estate designed by Peter Tabori (1969-79). Polygon Road estate is a significant building in the renowned ‘Cook’s Camden’ social housing program of 1960’s-80’s, widely considered to be some of the most important urban housing built in the UK in the last 100 years.
The estate, which employs a distinctive, cut-back, ziggurat terracing particular to many buildings in the program, is arranged in a strikingly symmetrical format, focused towards a stage-like raised green. Rows of stepped streets follow a 90 degree turn, establishing a fixed, observational watch over the absent and unused central lawn. This arrangement relies on a heavy diagonal axis of symmetry that becomes most evident when viewed from above, either zooming around on google maps, or looking at the architectural plans.
For this set of drawings Coleman has worked onto a re-drawn axonometric plan found in Camden’s archives, producing new drawings along revised lines of symmetry, forming drawn models of alternate approaches, other lives and opposed ways of living. Potential paths at the point of design, some are better some worse, some possible, some impossible. These potential models hover unanchored in a weightless ‘drawing space’, suspended in paper air but anchored to a particular modernist continuum by their adaptation of a defunct drawing technology redolent of a pre-digital age.
About Henry Coleman
Coleman’s work pushes at the edges of designed experience, bumping up against architecture, typography, signage and the decorative; reframing and making obvious the established limits of the aesthetic conditions that shape and reflect the societies, spaces and images that we move through.
Drawing down on the historical material of social and visual momentum to illustrate and illuminate contemporary processes, the work is expressed through disparate forms and channels; large scale sculptural intervention, interviews, objects and print; pulling disparate elements together in a collision of place and image, history and information, sensation and knowledge to generate a disruptive and cohesive sculptural and conceptual body.
His work has been published in Dezeen, Creative Review, BD Online and the Architects Journal and he is the recipient of Arts Collecting Society Prize, Royal Academy Schools Sculpture prize and an awarded shortlist for the Arts Foundation Fellowship, “Art in the Urban Space”. Coleman’s work is held in the collections of Museo Jumex, Norton Consulting and Grimshaw Architects. Between 2015-2016 he co-curated the Physical Information exhibition series at Bloomberg Space with Rupert Norfolk and was curator of the Library projects for the Brent Biennial between 2019-2021.