30 Years of INURA

June 2021 marks the 30 years since the founding of INURA, the International Network for Urban Research and Action. In that time, INURA has developed into a resilient network for people involved in action and research in localities and cities. The Network consists of activists and researchers from community and environmental groups, universities, and local administrations, who wish to share experiences and to participate in common research.


INURA advocates for social justice. Most recently INURA spoke out against the arrest and imprisonment of Eugene Kalinouski, 22, urban geographer, who was arrested in Belarus for during a political protest. Belarus has a history of arresting those who dissent with the government, and are facing international sanctions after the recent extraordinary lengths they went to in order to arrest a blogger. Other examples of the issues that Network members are involved in include actions such as standing in solidarity with workers, criticising environmentally unsound development processes and research on major urban renewal projects, the urban periphery, community-led environmental schemes, urban traffic and transport, inner city labour markets, do-it-yourself culture, and social housing provision. In each case, the research is closely tied to, and is a product of, local action and initiative.

This year, INURA member Tomislav Tomasevic, activist, researcher, and organiser of the 2019 INURA conference in Zagreb, was elected as the new mayor of the city of Zagreb (population 805,000) winning more than 68% of the vote.

INURA was founded in 1991 in Salecina, Switzerland as a network with a self-organising, non-hierarchical, decentralised structure. INURA is also a member of the Habitat International Coalition, a global network for the right to housing and social justice.

Since 1991, INURA has held yearly conferences in cities around the world, although the 30th conference, which will take place in Luxembourg, has been postponed until 2022 due to the global pandemic. 

Spectacle’s founder Mark Saunders is a founding member of INURA and Spectacle’s archive contains valuable video footage or urban environments throughout the 80s, 90s, and 00s from Montreal to Brussels to Berlin which is available for the researchers in the INURA network. 

Spectacle has long focused on inequality in urban environments and precarious housing arrangements including squats, cooperatives, evictions, and estates. All this material and more can be explored through our archive

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Public Order Policing Then and Now

The Event 

In honour of the anniversary of the 1990 anti-poll demonstration on March 31st, Spectacle hosted a free screening of Despite TV’s film Battle of Trafalgar. This was followed by an online Q&A with filmmaker Mark Saunders.

The discussion brought out the many ways that the public order policing tactics captured by the film are still in use and can readily be seen in the policing of the #KilltheBill protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill, and recent public order policing at Clapham Common of the Sarah Everard Vigil.

The Protest and the Making of the Film 

Despite TV was a filmmaking collective based in Tower Hamlets that operated through the 80s and 90s. Working as a co-operative, sharing resources, and making all editorial decisions through consensus, the collective published magazine videos.

The main aim of Despite TV was to revert hierarchies commonly reproduced in the media industry, promoting video production as inclusive, non-hierarchical group activity, and shared authorship and editorial control. Everyone in the group, in fact, had access to equipment and initial training, could propose what to film, contributed to the technical realization of the initial ideas, and was co-director of the final films. In order to enhance participation and avoid the exclusion of marginal voices in the group, all decisions were taken by consensus and all tasks and roles -such as chairing meetings, but also interviewing, operating cameras, sound recording, or carrying out runner’s tasks- were shared in turns.

In 1990, Despite TV was working on a special issue on the poll tax called Despite the Poll tax. The proposed poll tax was despised throughout the country. It was a blatantly extortionate tax which required all individuals, regardless of wealth, to pay the same amount, and anti-poll tax chapters sprang up across the country. Despite the Poll Tax was not so much focused on the inequities of tax, but how the law would necessitate ID cards, which were the origin of infamous SA pass laws during aparthied. The tax would offer a great deal of  social control and create a data blackmarket. The tax itself was therefore a colonial instrument. It was actually the second time that the British government had tried to institute such a tax. The first time was in the 14th century and led to a famous peasants revolt. 

The magazine was nearly finished. Three camera crews went to the protest to get some shots for the end credits. They stationed one camera near the front, one in the middle, and one at the back. Their expectations for filming a peaceful joyous mass demonstration quickly went out the window. 

Violence against protestors by the police left many bruised and bleeding. Hundreds were arrested. Police horses and vans repeatedly drove through the crowd, trampling people underfoot – all in the name of public order. However, none of this violence was reflected in the narrative on the evening news which depicted the demonstrators as violent and the police as responding to life or death violence. 

Despite TV managed to persuade Channel 4 to commission a film based on the footage to create a film showing the events in the order they really happened. The documentary was broadcast on Channel 4 in Sept 1990 and resulted in the upending of the accepted narrative of that day. 

The film was also used in court as a part of a common defence of protestors who had been arrest that day, showing many were acting in legal self defence.

Connections to the Current Moment 

In policing of public events in the last year including at the George Floyd BLM protests in 2020, Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham common, and Kill the Bill protests happening currently in Bristol. 

In the Battle of Trafalgar we see police vans driving through crowds, and the same tactics were used in Brooklyn 2020. Police vans were driven into crowds of BLM protesters who were protesting the murder of George Floyd. The Battle of Trafalgar demonstrates that the police were not “out of control” but following a dangerous and near secret tactic which was very likely to cause a crowd to react violently. During the anti-poll tax demonstration, the film argues, the protesters gained no benefit from violence, but the state did benefit because it allowed them to paint all protestors as criminals. 

This narrative is easily created when media sources uncritically present police statements as their only coverage of such protests. Again there is an uncanny similarity between the commentary of a mounted police woman in 1990 and one in 2021, both who claim to have never seen such violence directed at police in their entire lives. 

Jump to 1:30 for the report on Bristol protests

The use of provocation by police including the use of vans, attacking women, collective punishment, kettling, creates a large dragnet of offenders and erases the divide between peaceful and violent protests. The criminalising of protesting creates an excuse for the use of violence which paints the entire cause (whether it be BLM or anti-tax demonstrations) to be viewed as criminal in the court of public opinion. 

April 3rd – National Day of Action

The 3rd of April has been designated as a national day of action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill. Over 40 cities and counting across the UK will see #killthebill demonstrations, and they will be joined by those supporting the #ReclaimTheseStreets movement which grew from the murder of Sarah Everand and the policing of the vigils in her honour. 

In the demonstrations the week before violence from the police in Bristol created headlines of “violence against police” and “rioting,” but, as in 1990s, from the point of view of those on the ground the papers seemed to have switched around the subjects and objects of their sentences.

It will be interesting to see what policing tactics will be employed and what narrative the media will offer after April 3rd.

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Silwood Community Centre Management Committee

Before the “regeneration” of the Silwood Estate by Lewisham and L&Q in 2000 the residents successfully ran their own community centre and youth facilities- either voluntarily or employed.

These facilities, the youth club, cyber centre, community hall, under 5s etc were demolished and residents were promised a bigger and better purpose built “Community Centre” to not just replace but improve on what they lost. What followed was a systematic disempowerment of the community. What they got was the L&Q run “Lewington Centre”, a totally unsuitable building that residents struggle to access. L&Q sublet the building to Morley College which is of no benefit to the community and means the building is rarely available for residents to use.

On the 16th of September 2019, the Silwood community held a meeting to form the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC). This meeting symbolises local people of Silwood wanting to come together to improve the facilities of the community and surrounding areas.  

Silwood Community Centre run by L&Q

Historically, the residents successfully ran their own community centre and amenities. Sadly, under the regeneration of the estate, L&Q housing association took control of the new purpose-built community centre that was meant to not just replace but improve the facilities lost. Following the regeneration, L&Q then sub-let the centre to Morley College and the community has felt excluded ever since.

After years of frustration, the establishment of an independent CCMC means the whole community could have their voice heard. In the past L&Q have managed to make promises and not keep them to individuals without being made accountable but now with the strength of the committee, this will happen no more. A significant improvement for the community, as in the past, resident’s concerns about the management of the estate was falling on to deaf ears and there was no one to hold L&Q accountable to fulfil promises made.

Spectacle has been documenting the resident’s struggle since 1999 and continue to do so today. We believe that the injustice done to the residents is unacceptable. By setting up the Silwood video group to document and lobby for a meaningful regeneration, we are working with the community to help bring awareness to the mistreatment of Silwood residents. 

The group has participated in workshops organised by Spectacle and filmed the consultative meetings so they have a personal record.

Rita Edmond, Community Develop Practitioner, in her interview, exclaims,  “we stand together, and we fall together.” which is an attitude that currently illustrates the unity of the Silwood community and their hopes for the future. 

Another interviewee, Pembe Kumbi, Local entrepreneur, said the community has lots of hidden young talent that will be expressed through the use of the community centre. 

There is so much opportunity for Lewington Community Centre to become a hub for people to gather for youth groups and an assortment of classes. Joyce Jacca mentions all sorts of potential uses for the centre if it is allowed to be run by the locals. 

This represents a whole new chapter in the Silwood story that goes to the heart of community empowerment and wellbeing.   

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Or visit PlanA  for general posts on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
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Training on your video production: promotion for voluntary sector

Are you a small, socially engaged organisation? Do you want to promote the great work you do using video? You have no money to commission a promotional video nor enough confidence or equipment to produce in-house engaging video content? Do you have your promotional video idea in mind and need help to make it real?

Spectacle wants to support you by skilling you up while helping you produce your amazing first promotional video!

Why Spectacle?

We are a small, socially-minded company whose profits go back in to funding our community based work. We therefore want to support other organisations with a bespoke programme that will help you produce your first video while being trained in video making. We have applied a generous discount to our standard prices in order to help you reach your aims and to contribute to your success.

Spectacle is an award winning independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led, investigative journalism and participatory media. Spectacle’s documentary work has been broadcast and exhibited internationally. We have produced work on commission for clients including Amnesty International, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Howard League for Penal Reform, Council of Europe, Groundwork, the London Health Commission, the NHS, Big Local and the Wellcome Trust.

As well as undertaking productions, Spectacle runs short, sharp, affordable training courses and community based media workshops. We are based in London but can travel within Europe to deliver bespoke group sessions. We believe our courses are the best around, largely based on the exceptional feedback we have received from the hundreds of people we have trained over the years.

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What will you get?

You will have your first video professionally produced by an award winning production company. You will also learn how to make your second video, building up confidence and practical knowledge that will scale up your outreach and marketing strategies.

What services are provided?

We are offering a bundle of services that will guide your staff (up to 8 people) through a specifically designed programme of training and production based on your video project.

You will attend practical workshops on video making and you will be assisted in your real shoot by our director. You will have complementary equipment (second camera, audio recording, lights) and extra crew if needed. Then we will train you on how to effectively use video editing software, sitting together  in front of your project to get the editing process started. Our professional editors will finalise your video and guide you through uploading and promoting it on you social networks and media platforms.

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Discount applies to voluntary sector only and is not applicable after 31/05/2018 

We are offering two options, depending on how confident you are already in video making and on the nature of your projects.

Option1 (groups up to 8)

2 Day Bespoke Training in Videography

1 Day Shooting (assisted with extra equipment and crew if necessary)         

1 Day Editing Workshop (Introduction to Software and workflow. Preparation of Edit)

4 Days Professional Editing.             

TOTAL normal price      4000

TOTAL for voluntary sector 2000

Option2 (groups up to 8)

1 day Bespoke Training in Videography 

1 Day Shooting (assisted with extra equipment and crew if necessary)   

1 Day Editing Workshop (Introduction to Software and workflow. Preparation of Edit)

2 Days Professional Editing.            

TOTAL normal price    2800

TOTAL for voluntary sector 1600

Contact us for more info at production@spectacle.co.uk

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Video Production Enhances Research Impact

Are you an academic researcher, PhD student, PostDoc fellow seeking to boost the impact of your research? Do you wish to improve the originality of your research proposals in humanities, science, arts, social sciences? Why not include a video outcome in your funding application?

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Spectacle video training for academics and researchers

Other academics are already using media production to enhance the impact of their research in many ways. Video can be used either to monitor the research process and report research results, or it can be integrated in the research methods as strategy to collect original data that can be easily analysed and disseminated. Spectacle has long experience in training academic staff in how to achieve quality video outcomes for their investigations.

Recently we have trained anthropologists and social researchers of Edinburgh University, academic staff at Birkbeck, Comms departments at Oxford University, Cambridge University Press and King’s College. All of them gave us excellent feedback.

Together with practical skills and confidence, they went away inspired and excited by the potential of incorporating video in their academic work in order to improve the impact of their scientific communications.

We offer a range of options to train you in video making, from weekend courses to long bespoke training programmes addressed to whole department staff or research groups. Please visit our Training page or write to us for quotes and info at training@spectacle.co.uk

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Free video training for young adults resident in the Battersea area

Memories of Battersea: Free video film making training for young adults resident in Wandsworth

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Continuing Spectacle’s oral history video project “Memories of Battersea” we are running a series of free video production workshops for young adults (18-30 year olds) resident in the Wandsworth Borough, particularly SW8 and the Queenstown Ward.

The workshops will run during November and December please contact production@spectacle.co.uk for dates / times and locations.

All equipment is provided, no prior knowledge is necessary and it is completely free. There are 10 places so book now to be sure to get your place.

The 2 day workshops will cover practical hands on digital video production including shooting an interview and shoot locations.

Other workshops will be scheduled in 2018.

Please contact production@spectacle.co.uk to book, we are happy to answer your questions and provide details.

Spectacle’s Video Services

Are you looking to have your conference, seminar, event professionally filmed? Are you looking for an experienced, reliable and affordable company to deliver a high production value short film? Spectacle’s highly skilled crews provide high quality single or multi-camera videography at competitive prices to suit all your needs and budgets.

Spectacle is an award winning independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led investigative journalism and participatory media.  Over the last 25 plus years, Spectacle delivered a variety of media products that have ranged from conference documentation, to short educational or promotional videos, from series of mini clips to longitudinal documentation of large social projects. Our list of clients range from broadcast channels and media companies to international NGOs, Charities, Universities and private companies and we have always received great feedback.

Filmmaking and video production can be a long and arduous process; Spectacle’s processes are transparent and ensure consistent contact and input with clients. This means that projects can be constantly monitored and evolved with the client. Our multi-skilled freelancers are familiar with a range of production equipment and post-production software, allowing a wealth of options for final outcomes and diversity of expertise in project management.

Equipment and Crews

Spectacle offers professional full HD video and photographic production and documentation services for online, print or DVD distribution. Our crews have experience of a variety of broadcast and non-broadcast productions, and are used to working in sensitive and difficult situations. We also have experience in working with educational and academic institutions.

Our editors are familiar with academic work environments, especially in the fields of anthropology, urbanism and humanities, enhancing our ability to deliver a reliable service for your conference or educational videos. Our team of freelancers also cover a variety of languages enabling Spectacle to be the perfect partner for non-English speakers.


Service standards

We can tailor our videography services to your needs. Single camera or multi-cam shooting, sound and light setting, interviews and vox pop, locations shots for higher production value: we are happy to discuss the best and most cost effective option to suit your needs. Whatever your choice in terms of crew and film typology, we value quality and do our best to deliver the best standard of service. For this reason all our services provide a full HD video recording and a sound operator to provide the best audio recording to your film. We also provide, when necessary, a basic extra light kit for all our video shooting.

Affordable and transparent costing

Spectacle offers a sliding scale, depending on funding and size of production. Our range of production options starts from £450 to cover videography for your seminar with full HD camera, sound operator and lights.

Get in touch by email: production@spectacle.co.uk

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What’s going on with Battersea Power Station?

Go to ITALIAN version

After a big spike in reporters’ attention following Apple’s decision to move its headquarters into the grade 2 star listed art deco Building, Battersea Power Station has gone quieter in mainstream media over the last months. This doesn’t mean that nothing has changed and Spectacle has been following the latest initiatives of Battersea Power Station Development Company around the beloved building designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. Unfortunately much of the news is not reassuring.

Bad news or good news? Bad and good, as usual, are mixed up in the opacity of corporate communication, where everything can be spun according to the most convenient narrative. In fact, the general public is probably aware that the biggest and richest company in the world, Apple, have expressed their intention to move into the refurbished power plant. Apple has been welcomed almost unanimously in mainstream media (among others:  BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard) as good news. Meanwhile only Spectacle’s blog reported that the East Wall has been completely demolished in order to make windows and give light to Apple’s offices.

Battersea Power Station - three of the four chimneys have been rebuilt

Battersea Power Station – three of the four chimneys have been rebuilt. (Spectacle, 10/03/17)

This major loss, unreported in the mainstream media, follows a curious ’destroy-to-preserve’  strategy repeatedly applied to portions of the Battersea Power Station. Even though best practice in heritage interventions recommends to keep existing structures, the iconic chimneys have gone and been replaced with replicas. In our opinion this is the most evident distortion produced by developer-led preservation, as shown in our film Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon.

The demolitions (east wall and chimneys) have been approved by all regulatory agencies (Historic England – former English Heritage – and Wandsworth Council) and justified with the greater good of bringing the Battersea Power Station back to life. But what good has the 9 billion development – one of the biggest in Europe –  delivered so far? The works to rebuild the chimneys have proceeded and, at the moment, three newly built chimneys stick out the spoiled art deco power station. Hopefully Londoners will be able to once again admire the four chimneys back on the Battersea skyline, even though they are fakes. Better than nothing? Maybe. 

PUBLIC NOT PUBLIC

Battersea Power Station Development Company, through it’s Chief Executive Rob Tincknell, have recently announced the opening of a riverside walk in the development area:  “We are delighted that we are able to open new public spaces for London and are starting to bring the power station and its surrounds back into London life” (Reported on the Evening Standard). Despite the enthusiasm in the wording, the ‘public space’ Rob Tincknell is talking about is a private walk squeezed between the river and Phase 1 of the development. This promenade is going to be integrated into the wider riverside walk that will be opened in front of the Power Station. Like the rest of the development, this space is private and merely open to public, which is quite different from being ‘public space’.

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The recently open riverside promenade (Spectacle, 04/03/2015)

While filming the new Riverside promenade, our naive crew, believing in the “public space” hype outlined by the developers, acted as if it was a real public area. Unfortunately we have been brought back to reality when the local security reminded us that the landlord decided that smoking was not allowed on the site. Thanks to this sensible management, our health has been preserved. Nevertheless it seems unlikely that a privately policed space will guarantee free enjoyment of the river. If they were to outlaw picnics (maybe to help food shops in the development) or a protest, there would be little room for complaint: that’s what you get when you privatise public spaces.

The Guardian in the past has warned about the effects already produced by this public/private mix on the shores of the River Thames, that became a “bafflingly complex labyrinth of private obstructions and municipal confusion – and a struggle over land rights that could have serious consequences for common access to the river”. Not a great prelude to what developers offer as a unique experience.

PLANNING NOT PLANNING 

The pretentious 230 pages long ‘manifesto’ on Place Making put forward by the Battersea Power Station Development Company gives paramount importance to mixed use and mixed tenancy. Despite the commitment to deliver housing (and some affordable housing) to London’s population, the Malaysian consortium that leads the development has changed its mind, switching from luxury flats to offices.

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Cover page of Battersea Power Station Development Company book on ‘place making’ (2014)

Battersea Power Station Development Company have put forward an application for a change of use for Phase 3 of the project. Developers are seeking to turn two buildings, by starchitects Frank Gehry and Norman Foster, – whose flats have already been displayed for sale – from residential to office use. The Financial Times, reported the proposed change is due to a drastic drop in the prime housing market price, whereas demand for office space seems to be holding a higher value. Rob Tincknell in the Financial Times had to justify the plan: “The great thing about a long-term scheme like this is we can adjust with the markets. If there’s no residential market and a very strong office market then we will build offices”.

The same Tincknell that now praises flexibility, in the past gave an interview to Peter Watts, for his book “Up in Smoke” about the history of Battersea Power Station, making clear how Battersea Power Station Development Company came up with their surefire recipe to make Battersea the perfect place: “57% residential. Of the remaining 43% that’s about 3.4m sq ft, 1.2m retail and restaurants, 1.7m sq ft of offices and the balance in hotels, leisure and community space.” We wonder what happened to the pseudo-scientific plan for mixing uses and people in the “new place”, allegedly the result of a long consultation with local people. Maybe it wasn’t that important, since Tincknell tells the Financial Times now that “I could easily see us adding another million square feet (of office space)” and taking out a hotel and lots of residential from the scheme.

Battersea Power Station Community Group, virtually the only critical voice in the neighbourhood whose opinion has never been taken into account by the developers, have stood against the proposed plan: “The Gehry and Foster blocks should become social, affordable and mid-priced housing. There could be some office space at the lower levels. But with a housing crisis in London of unprecedented severity, these buildings should not be given over to offices in their entirety”.

Keep following our blog for updates and other contradictions produced by the big bang development of Battersea Power Station

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Battersea Power Station – The untold story of the East Wall.

According to news emanating from the developers of Battersea Power Station via the Evening Standard– Apple (the suits not the manufacturing) plan to occupy almost half of the beloved art deco building (500,000 square feet) in 2021, relocating 1,400 of its employees from Oxford Circus to Giles Gilbert Scott’s masterpiece.

Despite the expectation of a bright future, the shine has come off the PR coup as the building Apple is moving into, won’t be the Battersea Power Station, but rather a new built Battersea Fake Station. After decades of demolition by stealth, in order to provide daylight to the new office spaces, the East Wall has been demolished. The celebrated expanses of patterned brickwork will be replaced with new Art Deco-Style windows.

The historic brick work East Wall came down just a few weeks ago. It was only after the white plastic scaffold covering was removed that activists and residents realised that the East wall had gone.

East side of the Battersea Power Station without the wall - Work in Progress...

What’s left of the Battersea Power Station – The unexpected demolition of the East Wall.

Battersea Power Station and the unexpected demolition of the East wall.

View from the East side of the Power Station without the wall – Demolition in progress … (?!)

Silence in the news left everyone unaware of this latest act of heritage vandalism. Why this lack of information? And what’s the reason behind this decision to demolish? Conservation or profit?

In our film ‘Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon’, Nigel Barker, Planning and Conservation Director for London at Historic England (formerly English Heritage), described the principle of putting glazing into the East Wall as “quite challenging”.

He added: “One of the key characteristics of the power station was large blank areas of patterned brickwork.”… “If you are going to use that building, if it is going to have a new future then you are going to have to get new light in there.”…”So the decision was taken. Providing (that) the glazing is done in a way that respects and responds to the original design, then we can see it happening.”

Battersea Power Station Development Company got planning permission to put windows in the wall. But what Spectacle and the residents did not know is that they had to knock down the whole wall to realise this plan. Did Historic England know? If so, how does it fit in with their principles of conservation?

Plastic model of the Power Station redevelopment plan.

Plastic model of the Power Station redevelopment plan.

Brian Barnes, founding member of the Battersea Power Station Community Group that has fought for the protection of the site since the 1980s, said that everything has been done “behind closed doors” without any consultation. He reminds us that behind the development planning application there are over 600 documents and many subsequent “variations” which makes it hard to grasp what exactly is going on.

The lack of clarity and the broken promises leave residents and fans of the Art Deco masterpiece with many unanswered questions about the future of Battersea Power Station-  the biggest brick building in Europe.

Rob Tincknell, CEO of the Battersea Power Station Development Company, told The Guardian: “to fill the power station with shops, offices, luxury apartments and £30m-plus penthouses, and surround it with yet more apartment blocks [… is] paying for this [restoration]. You don’t just regenerate this out of thin air.” But this is not restoration: it is desecration.

It started with John Broome in the 1980s who demolished the West Wall and took off the roof. This three decades long process of demolition by stealth of the heritage site has been allowed by Wandsworth Council.

As we can see, the West Wall has never been rebuilt.  Apparently the plan is to create a glass wall so that the luxury ‘ghost’ flats can have the daylight coming through. But the questions are – Who is going to profit and at what cost to us all and to the future generations? Why have the agencies responsible for the protection of our heritage connived in this greedy exploitation of our cultural assets?

Listen to Us: Black Survivors in the Mental Health Care System

In few days the Black History Month will finish and Spectacle is contributing to this important event by republishing an old and powerful documentary about institutionalized racism in mental health care. The documentary “Listen to Us: Black Survivors of the Mental Health Care System“, collects experiences of mental illness and the impact of institutional treatment on black people’s lives.

The trailer:

Unfortunately the experience of unlawful detention in mental health care institutions and the effects of the stereotype of being “black and dangerous” is still relevant today. We hope this document from the ’90, will raise awareness and contribute to make mental health care better.

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