Natalie Lee

Natalie undertook a Real Estate residency on Hawes Side in Blackpool from June 2018 to June 2019. The residencies take an action research approach and as such the artists undertake a journey which might lead them to an outcome that they hadn’t expected or anticipated. Natalie had a personal experience of Blackpool having been born here when her parents tried to relocate from Manchester, but left just three months later. A journey that reflects the transient nature of many of Blackpool’s communities.

“During the first few months of the residency the experience of being a tenant has been a focus of my thinking in a larger way than I anticipated. This is based on personal experience – housing standards, dealing with different departments- feeling like it takes a lot of persistence to be noticed, to be taken seriously. Also, observations of how other tenants speak about the housing association – mistrust and disappointment. I think this is really worth exploring – and potentially my work could provide an insight into the tenant experience and make the housing association look at things from a different angle.”

Throughout the residency Natalie was inspired by the local stories and the power of these local truths.

“Storytelling is powerful. Sharing lived experience and communicating through everyday, neighbourly approaches developed a methodology that emphasised human connectivity and collectivity. The telling and communicating of new, lesser heard (but everyday) stories challenges faceless or often negative representations of working class communities.”

“Small moments’ of engagement are important.”

“Social isolation within the community is palpable, particularly in older people. The one-to-one contact and social activities that the residency prompted seemed welcomed and needed. Additionally, personal experience of isolation during the residency further highlighted the ease with which individuals could become socially detached should they move to an area by themselves.”

You can read more of Natalie’s residency diary here.

Two of the main pieces of work that came out of Natalies residency are:

Hawes Side Stories

The project draws on the concept of a ‘side story’; the lived, everyday experience that is often hidden from popular or political discourse surrounding housing, welfare, and economic policy-making.

You can read more about Hawes Side Stories here.

Powell Ave Edible Wall

Powell Ave’s Edible Wall is a collective growing project for people in the local area to use and enjoy. The project grew from research into the local history of the surrounding Hawes Side area and discovering a rich tradition of growing, agriculture and, in particular, tomato market gardens.