PLOTLANDERS Back Lane West, Shaun C. Badham, 2018
MORNING, arose from the artist sustaining an injury which led him to re-engage with his hometown, once moving back there after the accident. This led to his encounter with an abandoned set of climbing frames in a local park. The project extended into a research-led site-specific project, investigating the correlation between these climbing frames, designed in the 1970s, with the area’s inclusion within the Basildon New Town experiment. Badham found a unique history in relation to the designation of Basildon as a new town, not just in the park but also across a social, political and geographical context. His aim was to consider this history while setting out to save and restore the park’s heritage climbing frames, giving them a new lease of life. They were painted in a UV sensitive paint, so when a UV torch is shone on them at night, they glow. Badham worked collaboratively throughout MORNING with local archive groups, design historians, curators, schools and other specialists. MORNING created a new park designed around the heritage climbing frames, with a series of public events including exhibitions, walks, talks and a publication.
As the first iteration of MORNING came to an end, his research with the Laindon District Community Archive Group continued with a specific focus on the Plotland community, described as: ‘The Plotlanders’ were a community who resided in Laindon in Basildon, Essex between 1900s and 1970s. The Plotlanders were known for their strong community ties and DIY ethos, as many built there own homes from scratch, at times using unconventional means. In 1949 Basildon was designated as a New Town, which led to multiple compulsive purchase orders on the Plotlanders.”
Badham has been exploring old Plotland sites in Laindon, which has led to discovering old wells, foundations and bricks embedded in the ground. This image of bricks became the starting point for a series of new paintings. Alongside the production of the paintings, Badham worked with BLW associates undertaking a workshop to create briquettes from recycled paper. These briquettes are a compressed form of biomass material such as charcoal, sawdust, wood chips, peat, or paper which can be used for fuel and kindling to start a fire. The production of briquettes created a starting point for an open dialogue around not just the rise and fall of the Plotlands in Essex, but also concerns around communities being displaced and gentrification locally. The briquettes intended to embody the Plotland DIY ethos, while simultaneously operating a function. Members of the public are invited to take a briquette home on the exhibition night to use as fuel or heat on a cold day.