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An Open Discussion on Public Space

a special evening discussing the nature and challenges of public space

Hackney Co-operative Developments hosted a very special event, An Open Discussion on Public Space  at 6pm on Monday July 7th at the Vortex Jazz Club.

An Open Discussion on Public Space showcased three exciting research projects that have focused on Gillett Square over the past two years and created an open forum to re-think and re-negotiate our perspectives and perceptions of the ambitions for public space in Dalston.

The evening began with short presentations from the three studies (blue text is a link to further information);

Dancing with Strangers

Artist and academic Hattie Coppard (University of Gloucestershire) created an intriguing study of Gillett Square, working with a dancer and a writer to view interaction and participation through the practice of non-representational theory.

Their study adds to the debates around the provision of an inclusive public realm and the methodologies used to interpret and represent the elusive qualities of lived experience.

Stories from Gillett Square

Through audio recording, dialogue and listening independent researcher Fiacha O’Dubdha and artist Alexandra Parry have created a project which aims to document and illustrate the diverse ways that this public space is used. Interviews are carried out with the many people who pass through the square, and their stories and experiences made available for visitors to listen to.

Lost Regeneration

Musician and photographer Roland Ramanan has spent two years forming personal relationships with the community of people who regularly use Gillett Square as a location for street drinking. Though it is perceived as the cause of many local problems, Roland has gained the trust of this community and learned much about their individual histories and their perceptions of people around them in Gillett Square. In documenting this work, Roland has created a large portfolio of enigmatic and poignant photography which illustrates the stories he has collected from a community without a voice.


The creators of the studies then formed a panel to take questions from the audience, before the interaction opened out through facilitated discussions. 

The evening was quite unlike any discussion that has been had about Gillett Square before - surprising, challenging, entertaining and thought provoking. We challenged our own perceptions about how a public space should be viewed and pondered many new questions that will guide our approach to Gillett Square.