Session 4: Taking the Map for a Walk

Drawing from the ideas of Situationists and psychogeography from our third session, the Latymer Mappers took their maps out into the local area and let themselves be guided by the responses of people we met along our route. Setting off from Latymer Projects we spoke to a mother and daughter outside Frinstead House, the tower block directly across from us. We then found ourselves making for the Westway (naturally), under which there seems to be the most activity in terms of people walking about or making their way to places. We stopped to speak to some graffiti artists adding a new fresco to one of the concrete walls under the Westway. This is one of the few spaces that is legally available to artists, and they travel every couple of months together from their homes in Ealing to work on something new together.

Directly under the central structure of the Westway we met a couple coming to the area for the first time to take their daughter horse-riding in a small leisure space under the motorway. A few minutes later we approached a man who burst into a rage about the destruction of trees (particularly the silver birch) and the natural wildlife and then quickly disappeared down the road. We followed in that direction noting the way the Westway violently cuts the original Latimer Road in two, leaving Latimer Road north of the border and the more recent Freston Road in the south. Constantine pointed out the two hooks coming off the central circular structure of the motorway, which were built as part of the original masterplan to expand North.

 

Further up Latimer Road we took a right and on the corner of Highlever Road and Oxford Gardens, we chatted to a man who had lived in the area since he was born there 72 years ago. Tim and his dog Toby were going for one of their 4 daily walks, one of their regular haunts being Wormwood Scrubs, though Tim pointed out sadly that it’s bound to be built on at some point. We walked for a while circling round onto Bramley Road on the way back to Latymer Projects. Many more people hanging about under the Westway as we passed it heading south this time. Someone serving a very optimistic BBQ on one of the small side streets. We spoke to a woman for a while further up Bramley Road, another who had lived in the area since she was born. Our first question for her was “What’s the best thing about this area?” She laughed reluctantly “…er, nothing.” Her frustration at the lack of services and things to do in the area was clear. She explained also that her son has had to attend a school much further out in Fulham as there were no spaces left at the two local schools he applied to. She felt that many places were being given to pupils from outside the area, when they should really be going to the local kids.

Coming back onto Shalfleet Drive and turning into our well-treaded footpath to the space, we paused to speculate about the meaning of a new piece of graffiti which seems to have used some of the white paint left lying about by the builders currently making preparations for the planned redevelopment. Once back in the space we took some time to map out our route and the conversations we had, and will start to think about where this will take us next.

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