Kings Cross/ St Pancreas was the biggest area of urban regeneration in Europe when Anne Howeson was commissioned to make a series of drawings commenting on the changes.
To illustrate the history and the passing of time, Anne used archival prints of the area, which came from The Foundling Museum, The London Metropolitan archives and the Museum of London. She incorporated them into her work by manipulating their content through drawing and erasure. They became palimpsests, which explore memory, fiction and documentary (Howeson 2015)
In an interview which she gave to the online Design show, ‘Section D’, she discussed why and how she made the work.
Anne has always explored the idea of place in her work, and as a local to Kings Cross, wanted to record some of the transition in the area. She was invited to use the archival prints following an exhibition at the Guardian.
She began each drawing with the print as a starting point, and explained how this was like having a conversation with the artist. The work has a strong narrative, and as she rubbed out and added her own interpretation, she imagined what could have been there. She mentions passages in Dickens, where he describes dust heaps, and so she draws these in. It’s unclear what is fact and what is fiction. She talks about the work being a palimpsest, not only of physical layering, but in a historical sense. She also talks about "strange repeated moments" (Section D 2015), and compares the outrage at the opening of a new line in 1850, to the Crossrail protests today.
To try and illustrate this I experimented with drawing and google maps, drawing a blackened coalmine, collaged with the mock Georgian, mass-designed housing estate that has been built on the site. To suggest the industrial, vital nature of the mine, I used aggressive mark making and tonal contrast. By comparison, there is a uniform blandness to the new build. This is a very early experiment, and the only visually pleasing part of the image is the foreground, however I do think the idea has potential for development.
ANNE HOWESON (2015) Imagining Kings Cross solo show [online] Available at http://www.annehoweson.com/current-work/ [accessed October 20th 2016]
SECTION D (10/02/2015) From South Korea to Kings Cross [online] Available at https://monocle.com/radio/shows/section-d/174/ [accessed October 20th 2016]
Howeson interview from 18.58-28-33 minutes