Over two weeks in 2010, we teamed up with House of Jonn (Creatives in Residence at the Hospital Club, 2010) to create a temporary, interactive installation in the street-level windows of London’s iconic Selfridges store on Oxford Street. ‘Welcome to Your City’ was a giant model cityscape which engaged the public so that each ‘dwelling’ housed a different person’s take on London. The result was a physical and evolving snapshot of this many-layered, multicultural city.
We struck up conversations with passers-by, asking them what they loved and loathed about London, before taking their photograph. These comments and photos then took up residence in a house or flat within the installation, and over the course of our ‘residency’, these individual dwellings were gradually combined to create a gigantic cityscape that grew and intensified as it welcomed more inhabitants, eventually evolving into a collaborative vision of an alternative London. Each one of these homes came to represent something about each contributing passer-by; be it their nationality, personal story or unique take on London.
The breadth of comments we received was fantastic – we heard London described as “More interesting than Devon” and the “best city to be a gay man”. Amongst the many plaudits the capital received for being a liberal and multicultural city, one man from Alabama was “having a hard time understanding accents,” but loved that “everyone speaks in English.” Another equally tolerant person loved multi-cultured London because it had no Londoners! Some people were easily pleased, such as the person who loves the “electricity, lights and people” in London, or the tourist from India who praised London for its “management”. Someone else told us he loved London because he had found a severed finger in the capital, while a girl from East London said she loved the city because “no one seems to care about anything”.
Our collaboration was also joined by Alex Shepherd (Visual Artist in Residence at the Hospital Club, 2010) and Simon Burrill (Filmmaker in Residence at the Hospital Club, 2009) who created two additional installations in adjacent windows, interpreting the ‘Welcome to your City’ theme through film and photography.
“Selfridges has a wonderful history of creating and presenting thought-provoking window designs. This collaboration with The Hospital Club and some of their most talented creatives is completely in tune with the essence of what our windows are and do, which is intelligent entertainment, drama, acute creativity but above all, a sense of something fun and fresh happening behind the glass. And this time, it’s happening in on both sides, in complete interaction with the public walking by.”
Sarah McCullough, Selfridges’ Windows Concept Manager
“‘Welcome To Your City’ is a wonderful initiative that provides an opportunity for people to become involved in the creation of a unique installation at one of London’s most famous landmarks. It’s great to see creatives from totally different disciplines coming together to collaborate and it’s not every day that you have the chance to form a part of an evolving artwork on one of the busiest streets in London!”
Laurelene Chambovet, Philanthropic Manager at The Hospital Club