Landed (Freeman's Wood)
Our current project, Landed (Freeman's Wood), is an exploration of land-ownership and its significance for people and places. It is centred on a plot of land on the edge of Lancaster, known as Freeman's Wood, where the interests of the local community have collided with those of global capital.
This land has been used by local people for decades, and they have regarded it as common land, but fencing was installed around it in 2012, resulting in public unrest and reports in the local press.
The land is owned by a property investment company which is registered in Bermuda, and its owners are thought to be based in Hong Kong. The director of the UK development company for the site is a Punjab-born, polo-playing friend of Prince Charles. His son plays polo with Prince Harry. So this scrubby semi-derelict patch of land has direct links to global economic, political, and social networks.
The project is focusing on this particular plot of land as an illustrative example through which the issue of land ownership can be explored. Storey G2 commissioned artists to lead an investigation of this plot, to research and explore land-ownership and its social effects, and to produce art works which communicate and stimulate thought about these issues.
We have also talked to local people who have used this land – the dog walkers, footballers, cyclists, den-builders, nature watchers, etc. - and recorded their memories of Freeman's Wood, and their wishes for its future.
The commissioned artists are : Layla Curtis, Goldin+Senneby, and Sans Facon.
We want the project to reach a large audience, so we asked these artists to produce artworks in forms suitable for distribution on the internet, rather than objects for display in a gallery.
The commissioned artists have completed their artworks. Layla Curtis has developed an iPhone app featuring conversations about the site; Sans Facon have created a board game about landownership; and Goldin&Senneby have bought a plot of land and engaged a playwright to produce a script about it. More details.
Some Lancaster-based artists also contributed to the project. Helen Hicks and Rachel-Ann Powers were appointed as Engagement Artists. StoreyG2 provided support to Catriona Stamp for production of a video.
Our aim for this project, and the artworks produced, is to raise awareness and discussion of land-ownership and its effect on people's lives, here and around the world.
In Britain about 69% of the land is owned by 0.6% of the population. However, landownership is a hidden political topic in England.
"In this case, the elephant is the room. There can be few enormous subjects more often dodged than land ownership. It is the great ignored in politics today." Ferdinand Mount, 2014