A Commentary: Walter Gropius, On Large Housing Estates

Walter Gropius, “Large Housing Estates”, in Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby (eds.), Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), pp. 484-486

 Following the devastation of the First World War, Germany looked towards housing reform as an answer to the social, political and economic problems of the day.[1] The utopic visions of the Expressionists formulated immediately after the war, evolved into rational and functionalist designs throughout the 1920s.[2] The architect as spiritual leader, combining all the arts, became the architect as engineer.[3] Such a transformation was motivated by sobering hyperinflation between 1919 and 1923, and only after the stabilisation of the mark in November 1923 could housing reform become a built reality.[4] Complimentary to economic stability, the creation of a single administrative entity uniting all of Berlin, which followed coherent and rational planning principals made the large housing estate proposed by Gropius and his contemporaries possible.[5] Gropius responds to the contemporary housing crisis, at the end of the war the housing shortage in Berlin was estimated at 100,000-130,000 dwellings.[6] Between 1924 and 1930, 135,000 social housing units were completed compared to just 9000 between 1919 and 1923.[7] The catalyst for the building of social housing was the trade-union movement, the unions invested heavily in large housing developments and also recruited leading modernist architects to design them.[8] The prime ambition of the GEHAG was to achieve the lowest rents possible through the most efficient, often standardised building practices.[9] Gropius’ text is not merely a theoretical tract on estate building, it is a plan responding to the desires of the trade-unions, a blueprint on how best to produce affordable housing to cope with and last beyond the crisis.[10]

Gropius in his 1930 piece asserts that through regulation and the linear plan mass housing can ensure the wellbeing of both its residents, and the wider city- long term. He seeks to design an estate that finds the balance between financial demands including land price and building costs, and the need for space in the crowded capital city.[11]

Gropius presents an estate plan responding to the ‘basic requirements’ he believes a large residential development must and can fulfil, mirroring the regulatory language of the Greater Berlin administration.[12] He cites limited population density as one such requirement, realised through the ‘building regulations of recent decades’ and contemporary regulation limiting commercial exploitation of residential building land, and so avoiding the creation of city slums created through ‘unscrupulous land development’.[13] The 1925 Reform Building Ordinance introduced zoning of industry and housing, which Gropius incorporates into his plan, with his placing of commercial enterprises and facilities likely to generate noise like schools and playgrounds in ‘relatively isolated positions’, with noise further buffered by the conservation of existing woodland.[14] [15] Gropius blends adherence to regulation and focus on the resident’s welfare to create ‘exceptional tranquillity’ within the estate.[16]

Gropius hints at the tensions within high modernism- the battle of standard, anonymous blocks and organic form, which was characterised by Manfredo Tafuri as ‘one of the most serious ruptures within the modern movement’.[17] Leo Adler in his 1927 criticism of the Horseshoe estate in Berlin by Taut and Wagner asserted that in all aspects of ‘building engineering’ reason must rule. Gropius in his piece favours the standard, anonymous block and celebrates the linear grid plan.[18] The estates Gropius advocates are all north-and-south aligned with individual apartment blocks laterally separated, resulting in consistent sunshine and air flow through every apartment.[19] Gropius cites the lack of sunlight and air circulation apparent in both old courtyard and modernist perimeter block designs, providing a solution by removing transverse blocks and corner apartments within the blocks of the estate.[20] Contextually, the 1925 Ordinance also banned transverse buildings and side wings putting an end to the format that had produced Mietskaserne in Berlin since the 1870s.[21]

Gropius also contributes to the contemporary discourse on standardisation of housing, which gained momentum within the realms of architecture and interior design throughout the 1920s. [22] Ludwig Hilberseimer championed standardisation of the tenement block in 1926, asserting that standardisation represents an effort and solution to reduce costs, perfect design, and addresses the needs of the user (the tenants) first. [23] Gropius represents another supporter of standardisation, believing that it ‘is not an impediment to the development of civilisation’ but one of its prerequisites.[24] Standardisation became championed by the trade-union building departments, as it was seen to ensure both equality and good economics.[25] In Gropius’ estate plan no apartment is in a better position than another, there is no marker of class, wealth or stature present within the design. No decoration individual to a block is described, and Gropius asserts that the ‘natural accidents of the terrain’, alongside trees and vegetation planted around the estate will ‘relax and and enliven the grid plan’.[26] One can see in this comment a defence of urban modernism contemporary to the backlash against functionalist modernism that was gaining pace by 1930, and that found national, administrative support after 1933 in the Nationalist Socialist ideology that damned modernist architecture as Bolshevist and funded architecture reflecting the ‘simple life on German soil’.[27]

In terms of efficiency and cost-saving within the estate, motor roads are designed to intersect only at right angles past the ends of the blocks, which are further distanced from the noise and dirt of the roads by grass areas, there are also access footpaths reserved for pedestrians, and estate traffic is entirely separate from general city traffic.[28] Gropius’ design of transport systems within the estate ensures overall tranquillity and also ‘reduces the estate’s road-building and access costs’ echoing Hilberseimer’s belief that standardisation is a solution to reduce costs and address the user’s needs.[29]

Gropius’ estate plan was realised through developments such as the Siemensstadt estate, where Gropius and Bartning created blocks that were both rational and anonymous.[30] With the gathering pace of the economic crisis and the discontinuation of house-building subsidies in Berlin in 1931, the working man soon found no support in the architectural ambitions of the administration, and the modernist designs of Gropius and others fell out of favour.[31]

[1] Iain Boyd Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 463

[2] Ibid, p. 463.

[3] Ibid, p. 463.

[4] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 463.

[5] Ibid, p. 464.

[6] Ibid, p. 463.

[7] Ibid, p. 464.

[8] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 464. E.g. The establishment of a central agency in 1923 within the German Trade-Union Congress (on the initiative of Martin Wagner) with the purpose of funding cooperative housing, and the establishment of the GEHAG (the Berlin arm of DEWOG) in 1924.

[9] Ibid, p. 464.

[10] Walter Gropius, “Large Housing Estates”, in Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 485-486.

[11] Ibid, p. 486.

[12] Ibid, p.485.

[13] Ibid, p. 485.

[14] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 464.

[15] Gropius, “Large Housing Estates, p. 485.

[16] Ibid, p.485.

[17] Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development. (Cambridge: Mass, MIT Press, 1976), p. 117.

[18] Gropius, “Large Housing Estates”, p.485.

[19] Gropius, “Large Housing Estates”, p.485.

[20] Ibid, p.485.

[21] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 464.

[22] Christine Frederick, Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home. (Chicago: American School of Home Economics, 1920). Through Frederick’s book, the housewife becomes the engineer, and the kitchen of the home is her control room. The concept of Taylorism already employed in the factory, became employed in the domestic sphere- ultimate efficiency and time management became the ultimate goal. The architect and interior designer could aid this efficiency by carefully planning how one would complete tasks within certain spaces.

[23] Ludwig Hilberseimer, “On Standardizing the Tenement Block”, in Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 480.

[24] Walter Gropius, “Standardisation” in The New Architecture and The Bauhaus, trans. P. Morton Shand. (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1935), p. 34.

[25] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 464.

[26] Gropius, “Large Housing Estates”, p. 486.

[27] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 467.

[28] Gropius, “Large Housing Estates”, p. 485.

[29] Ibid, p. 485.

[30] Ibid, p. 466. Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development. (Cambridge: Mass, MIT Press, 1976), p. 117.

[31] Whyte, “Chapter 15: Housing”, p. 466.

 

 

Bibliography

Books

Adler, Leo. “Housing Estates in the Britz District of Berlin” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 482-484. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Boyd Whyte, Iain. “Chapter 15: Housing.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 463-467. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Frederick, Christine. Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home. Chicago: American School of Home Economics, 1920.

Gropius, Walter. “Large Housing Estates.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 484-486. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Gropius, Walter. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Translated by P. Morton Shand. London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1935.

Hilberseimer, Ludwig. “On Standardizing the Tenement Block.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 480-481. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Tafuri, Manfredo. Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development. Cambridge: Mass, MIT Press, 1976.

 

 

A Commentary: Bruno Taut, The City Crown, 1919

Bruno Taut, “The City Crown”, in Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby (eds.), Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), pp. 295-301.

 

The intention to flee, from the dangerous city, to the safe haven of the countryside or small town, is an intention that defines the architecture of the early twentieth century within Germany.[1] Berlin during the war years of 1914-1918 was one such dangerous city, and architects such as Bruno Taut sought to provide an alternative plan for the city where the spiritual and profane aspects of city life were separated.[2] Influenced by the Garden City movement and Gothic architecture, Taut in ‘The City Crown’ provides a polemical blueprint for the new city in which brotherhood and harmony are championed.[3] [4]

Taut’s vision of ‘The City Crown’ contributes to calls for the return to the land which gained strength in Germany at the turn of the century, and became institutionalised with the founding of the German Garden City Association in 1902.[5] The world’s first garden city was founded by Ebenezer Howard in Letchworth in 1903 and is continually referenced by Taut and contemporary writers such as Paul Wolf.[6]  The housing within Taut’s plan is modelled on the simple cottage structures that he had designed for the German Garden City Association from 1913-1916 in Falkenberg, in the Berlin suburbs.[7] First published in 1919, Taut’s piece also reflects the very real and un-romantic need to return to the land due to the food shortages that had become apparent in Berlin and other German cities by the early months of 1915, that had by 1918,  progressed to mass starvation.[8]

In tandem with the defeat of the nation in World War One and mass starvation, came the Spanish influenza.[9] 250,000 Germans are thought to have died in the pandemic flu in 1918 and 1919, one can see in ‘The City Crown’ that the importance Taut places on the orientation of the city- in order to let good air flow into the city and bad air be contained within the factory district, may be contextually informed by the pandemic.[10] [11] If the pandemic spread like wildfire due to the high density living conditions in Berlin, Taut illustrates an ideal city vision with 150 people per hectare, ample space for each resident.[12]

Taut’s major point is that the new, reformed city must have a building that champions and showcases the highest ideals to be striven for by the people. Without some spiritual centrepiece, the city has no concrete illustration of faith and thus no way for the individual to rise above his own personal concerns.[13] The glass temple creating Taut’s Crown, can be seen in terms of a modern equivalent to the Gothic cathedral.[14] A glass crystalline building, ‘conceived both as a protest against the insanity of war and as a pointer to a better society.’ [15] [16] The sheer amount of light Taut describes within the Crown and the light it reflects ‘like a diamond over everything, sparkling in the sunlight’, provides an alternative to the Mietskaserne and the dark courtyards of Wilhelmine Berlin. [17] [18]

The crystal motif recurs throughout architectural theory of the early twentieth century. Walter Gropius described architecture as ‘the crystalline expression of human beings’ noblest thoughts’.[19] Taut describes his City Crown as the ‘Crystal House’, championing glass architecture’s ‘purity and transcendence’.[20] The inspiration for the glass architecture of Taut and his associates in the Arbeitstrat fur Kunst and the Glaserne Kette group stems from the fantasy author Paul Scheerbart. [21] Scheerbart created worlds of wonder, describing utopian existences lived out under new transparent and colourful architecture.[22] Taut met Scheerbart in 1912, and in February 1914, Taut published ‘A Necessity’, an article calling for the collaboration of all the arts in constructing a new building of glass, steel and concrete.[23] The building would have no function apart from transcendence, and one can see in ‘The City Crown’, that the Crown itself ‘contains nothing apart from an incredibly beautiful room’ that causes ‘every major sensation’ to be awakened when walking around it.[24] [25] The Crown also represents the union of all the arts, directed by the architect.[26]

Contrary to advocating the abandonment of cities, as Taut later advocates in his 1920 piece, ‘Dissolution of Cities’, ‘The City Crown’ offers an alternative vision for the urban landscape- in which both the material and spiritual needs of the population are met.[27] [28] Taut was located on the political left, but arguments for the return to the land appeared on the far right also.[29] The Expressionist fantasies of the 1920s, of which Taut created many, were made manifest in part by housing associations and trade unions, under the Socialist City Council towards the end of the decade.[30]  Glass, steel and concrete architecture to Taut represented a new age, of spiritual enlightenment and of collaboration between the arts, a peaceful age, yearned for by the post-war generation of Germany.

 

[1] Iain Boyd Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 291.

[2] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 292.

[3] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 293.

[4] Bruno Taut, “The City Crown” in Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 296.

[5] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 291.

[6] Paul Wolf, “The Basic Layout of the New City”, in Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 295. Although he advocates a relocation from the city to the country, advocating the creation of garden cities modelled on Letchworth in England.

[7] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 292.

[8] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 291.

[9] Iain Boyd Whyte, “Chapter 9: City in Crisis”, Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 275.

[10] Ibid, p. 275.

[11] Taut, “The City Crown”, p. 298.

[12] Ibid, p. 299.

[13] Ibid, p. 296.

[14] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 292.

[15] Whyte, “The Expressionist Sublime”, p. 118.

[16] Ibid, p. 296.

[17] Taut, “The City Crown,” p. 301.

[18] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 292.

[19] Walter Gropius, “The New Architectural Idea” in Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 286.

[20] Taut, “The City Crown,” p. 301.

[21] Whyte, “The Expressionist Sublime”, p. 126.

[22] Whyte, “The Expressionist Sublime”, p. 126.

[23] Bruno Taut, “A Necessity” in Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, eds. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 276-278.

[24] Taut, “A Necessity”, p. 278. ‘All idea of social purpose must be avoided’

[25] Taut, “The City Crown,” p. 300.

[26] Taut, “The City Crown,” p. 300.

[27] Bruno Taut, Dissolution of Cities (Hagen: Folkwang, 1920), pl. 1. Illustrates Taut’s alternative settlement plans, contrasting a crowded city with his organic, petal like settlements.

[28] Taut, “The City Crown,” p. 296.

[29] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 292.

[30] Whyte, “Chapter 10: Critical Responses”, p. 293.

 

Bibliography

Books

Boyd Whyte, Iain. “Chapter 10: Critical Responses.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 291-293. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Boyd Whyte, Iain. “The Expressionist Sublime.” In Expressionist Utopias: Paradise, Metropolis, Architectural Fantasy, exhibition catalogue edited by Timothy O. Benson, 118-137. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art / Washington University Press, 1993.

Gropius, Walter. “The New Architectural Idea.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 286-287. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Taut, Bruno. Dissolution of Cities. Hagen: Folkwang, 1920.

Taut, Bruno. “The City Crown.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 295-301. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Taut, Bruno. “A Necessity.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 276-278. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Wolf, Paul. “The Basic Layout of the New City.” In Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940, edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, 293-295. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

 

A Commentary: Karl Scheffler, The Tenement Block (1911)

Scheffler, “The Tenement Block”, in Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby (eds.), Metropolis Berlin 1880-1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), pp. 158-163.

The four decades after the unification of Germany in 1871 witnessed a construction rush- particularly the construction of tenement buildings. With no centralised planning authority, speculative developers and land-owners ruled building in Berlin. Scheffler in his 1911 piece, articulates his view that the developer becoming king of all building is a detriment to the people and the city of Berlin.

Scheffler’s major point is that the failing of the city council to invest in public land when it was indeed public and to create imaginative building regulations has led to sporadic building practices within Berlin, which only aid developers and land owners rather than the city and its people. Scheffler’s critique of the council is a critique linked to the contemporary condemnations of the conservative art policies of Kaiser Wilhelm II, featured in periodicals championing the avant-garde including Pan (1895-1900) and Kunst und Kunstler (1903-1933), edited by Scheffler from 1906 onwards.[1]

Scheffler enters the contemporary discourse on the issue of over-crowding and poor housing quality in Europe and particularly within the city of Berlin.[2] Writers such as Werner Sombart writing in 1906, cited the common European tenement apartment block as making ‘civilised family life impossible’, through its over-crowding caused by the actual design of the building and the economic strains on tenants.[3] Scheffler mirrors his sentiment, although on a more practical level- citing the modern tenement apartment within Berlin as being ‘so cramped that man and wife simply cannot allow themselves a family of any size’, thus the contemporary tenement apartment is a physical barrier to the creation of family and the growth of a community.[4] In 1893  a study was published focusing on 803 apartments located in the Sorauer Strasse, which housed 3.383 people, it established that in 30 percent of the apartments, tenants were taking in night lodgers and as a direct consequence, each person had less than twenty cubic metres of air.[5] Scheffler continues the contemporary critique of tenement blocks, theorising a solution for the problems and horrifying results of such studies, rooted in building regulation and the championing of public rather than private interest.

Scheffler believes the colloquial term Mietskaserne, translated as tenement barracks, represents an innate longing for one’s own space.[6] A contemporary, Rudolf Eberstadt, states that the composition of the Mietskaserne is characterised by the entire plot being taken up by the house, ‘the individual apartment disappears’, the individual is therefore lost within mass architecture and profit is created for the few.[7] [8] Scheffler advocates that the modern tenement block must be built in conditions that take into account ‘real public needs’- not the profit of the developers.[9] Throughout his piece, Scheffler references the speculative nature of building in Berlin, which he believes follows a capitalist methodology; ‘the population is set to decline because housing policy is capitalist in nature’.[10] He presents Capitalists as the antagonists- so appears to be writing for the educated, politically aware, who believe in Socialist principles- at least within the realm of architecture.

Contrary to presenting an architectural alternative to the tenement block, Scheffler as his solution, advocates a complete revision of the conditions that create over-crowding and poor quality of life within the current tenement blocks. Conditions he lists as including; speculative landowners pushing up land prices through building method, building regulations set by the local government focused on bureaucratic public health rules and lack of a communal goal and focus in building.  

[1] Carl Georg Heise and Johannes Langner, “Karl Scheffler” in Metzler art historian Lexicon: two hundred portraits of German-speaking authors from four centuries (Stuggart: Metzler, 1999), pp. 343-6.

[2] Writers such as Walter Sombart, “Domesticity” (1906), Theodor Goecke, “The Working-Class Tenement Block in Berlin” (1890) and Max Jacob, “From Apartment House to Mass Apartment House” (1912) all commented on the modern development of the tenement block, both within a European and Berlin-centric sphere.

[3] Werner Sombart, “Domesticity” (1906) in Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940, ed. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), p. 151.

[4] Karl Scheffler, “The Tenement Block” (1911) in Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940, ed. Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), p. 160.

[5] Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby, “The Proletarian City”, in Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. Edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), p. 136.

[6] Ibid p. 159.

[7] Whyte and Frisby, “The Proletarian City”, in Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940, p. 135.

[8] Rudolf Eberstadt, Abwehr der gegen die systematische Wohnungersreform gerichteten Angriffe (1907), quoted in Johann Freidrich Geist and Klaus Kurvers, Das Berliner Mietshaus, 1862-1945. (Munich: Prestel, 1984), p. 219.

[9]Scheffler, “The Tenement Block” (1911) in Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940, p. 163

[10] Ibid p. 160

 

Bibliography

Books

Boyd Whyte, Iain and Frisby, David. “The Proletarian City.” In Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. Edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), 134-137.

Goecke, Theodor. “The Working-Class Tenement Block in Berlin” (1890). In Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. Edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), 137-143.

Heise, Carl Georg and Langner, Johannes. “Karl Scheffler.” In Metzler art historian Lexicon: two hundred portraits of German-speaking authors from four centuries. Stuggart: Metzler, 1999.

Jacob, Max. “From Apartment House to Mass Apartment House” (1912). In Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. Edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), 164-167.

Scheffler, Karl. “The Tenement Block,” (1911). In Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. Edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), 158-163.

Sombart, Werner. “Domesticity,” (1906). In Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. Edited by Iain Boyd Whyte and David Frisby. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012), 150-153.

 

 

 

 

Prohibited Pleasures

16467213_1340861152624377_1061644798_n

A poem written by Megan Wallace, the talented founder and editor of Spectrum Zine, an online publication testing the boundaries of where queer feminism can go. The words were inspired by Rossetti’s Goblin Market, a literary gem in erotic poetry that is swathed in metaphor.

I created three panels illustrating the poem that are intended to be read in a cycle- endlessly repeating.

As we walked hand-in-hand and silent,
basking in the streetlamp’s judgmental glare,
I would watch the interlocking shapes of our shadows
keeping time on the pavement.

16730942_1350653694978456_64870994_n
~
Later, I traced eternity with my eyes shut,
following the outlines of your body
as we lay in the wrinkled sheets
of my single bed.

16736672_1350653711645121_1539919514_n.jpg
~
And now,
I will lay my body down,
As offering
As sacrifice
As feast.

16467213_1340861152624377_1061644798_n
~
I will stretch my legs out
as wide as they will go
I will wrap my arms around you
to form a bridge
between then and now

Check out Megan’s beautiful Instagram- @_go_fish

This work is featured in the newest edition of Spectrum- https://spectrumfeministzine.com/2017/02/13/our-new-issue/

Affection or the lack of

carless-big

This piece was requested by a friend, after I babbled at her about the greatness of recording something once hurtful in a drawing- for me when I doodle like this- the painful event becomes something distant and other than myself.

” Can you not show your affection so much, when I am trying hard to care less “

Geode

acies-co-teal-blue-crane-geode1

I’ve been re-hashing some old drawings of cranes and planes to try and make snazzy new business cards for Acies Co, but I’m struggling to find a design that is striking and minimal at the same time. I love the interconnecting lines on this one and the asymmetry.

Alongside mustard, teal is another favourite colour, it’s cold and warm simultaneously and is used far too little!

Take a peek at my screen-printed apparel here- Aciesco.etsy.com

Acies Sigil

acies-co-b-mustard-marking1

I always sign off my drawings with a little mark, and to be honest I usually edit it out when it’s all finished, but it’s a therapeutic ‘yes I am happy with this’ act to scratch in my initial. In my pieces for my unisex clothing brand, Acies Co, all apparel has a tiny sigil, a branding that shows its been hand-made. In this drawing I played around with colour, and surprise, surprise used mustard as a backdrop. The sigil came from a drawing class in which I was told I was ‘uptight’, I had to create something that represented my energy is a single mark. This angular form represents my stressed and anxious self, and although not abstract or expressive it really does sum me up!

Check out origami screen-printed goodness here- Aciesco.etsy.com

b-and-the-self1

You melt my heart

melting-coloured2

This weird guy started off as a doodle, a friend of mine has created a soundcloud to publish his Acid House music and I wanted to draw something weird and wonderful as a bit of cover art. I turned the face into a candle for a bit of a joke, I’m now thinking of doing a series of inanimate objects that are actually in pain while you use them! Maybe for next Halloween?

You can see I didn’t really edit much, just filled in the face with a waxy colour to give it a real candle glow!

initial-scan-in-gooey2

 

 

Sunlight on my skin

man-with-hair

A companion piece to the ‘has anything changed’ drawing, actually drew this first and then decided a companion would be nice. A quote again taken from life, ‘”You’re still so tanned from your holiday”, “Oh, it’s because I dream of the sunlight on my skin”.

I’ve been trying to listen out for lovely little phrases people say, the beautiful can be found in the mundane.

Has anything changed?

hairy-lady

I’ve been experimenting with using dotted background to give my characters a bit more of a grounding, sometimes I feel they’re floating away in space with no solid thing to tether them to!

Writing quotes around the edges of pieces also creates a frame, this piece reads – ‘He spoke so softly as he held me. “I’ve missed your voice.” In the morning I asked if anything had changed. “No.”‘

My flatmate coined the phrase jollancholly- and this drawing is on that theme. Everyone has been told they’re not wanted, in many different contexts, but each time it happens it still snags just the same!