Using my research from the first part of this exercise, I must try to look at the information in an emotional way. I will put myself in Sydney Gale’s shoes and try to imagine what he may have felt when his home was used to make a piece of sculpture in a park. With empathy and understanding how might I feel if the same thing happened to me and my home or to someone close to me.
Before Whiteread began to fill 193 Grove Road with cement, the house belonged to a man named Sydney Gale, or, as the some press would label him, “Sid the War Hero.” Before Mr. Gale’s house was the only Victorian terrace house left standing on 33 Grove Road, the street was filled with lines of Victorian terrace houses. During World War II Grove Road was one of the first locations in London to be hit by a bomb, affording the location historical significance. (Dunn, 2015)
The work was seen by many as a memorial to the East End family home and the space they lived in. Members of the Gale Family—the last occupiers of 193 Grove Road—were, however, not impressed. Sidney Gale blasted the work due to its £50,000 cost and lack of grants for new homes. He was memorably quoted in the East London Advertiser: “They’ve taken the wee wee out of me.” (Haines, 2008)
Sidney Gale spent a whole year trying to fight to keep his tenancy on his home at 193 Grove Road, which in itself must have been emotionally exhausting and then to finally give in and move to another home, to then find out that an artist had made a sculpture out of it before it was demolished. I can imagine he would have felt frustrated seeing his family home made into a controversial piece of artwork. Had he not been emotionally attached, I think he would have probably enjoyed the artistic element brought to an empty dwelling. Knowing that this house was the last one standing and was in line to be demolished to create a greener space for the tower blocks surrounding makes me feel quite sad, an end of an era, families would have created such happy memories on the street, they survived the second world war and were being demolished to make way for green space for other tenants in the area. I can understand why it would have divided communities, not only because of being demolished but because of money spent on the sculpture could have helped in other ways, like grants for new homes. Personally, I would try to find positives in a situation like this. Memories can’t be taken away from you, they live on in your hearts and minds, your children and their children to come. You can take precious memories and belongings to a new home and create more beautiful memories, there is no point in living in the past.
(Dunn, 2015) https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/36693258.pdf (accessed 22.11.20)
(Haines, 2008) https://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/news/heritage/rachel-s-inside-out-house-turns-art-world-upside-down-1-667024 (accessed 22.11.20)