Joanne Lee presenting ‘The Good Place That Is No Place’ at University of Cumbria and University of Derby

Still from The Good Place That Is No Place by Joanne Lee

Joanne Lee, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design, has been invited to present her photographic essay The Good Place That Is No Place at two upcoming conferences:

Cities, Communities and Homes: Is the Urban Future Livable?, a conference organised by the University of Derby and Architecture, Media, Politics, Society (AMPS) between 22 and 23 June 2017. Find out more here.

Visualising the Home, a conference organised by the University of Cumbria exploring the meaning of home within contemporary society as seen through photography taking place between 13 and 14 July. Find out more here.

The Good Place That Is No Place is a photographic essay shown as an 18-minute duration projection with voiceover. Its title derives from Thomas More’s play on the etymological double entendre between eutopia meaning a good place, and outopia, no place: utopia is the good place that is no place. The project essays a constellation of ideas around home, belonging, migration, escape and sanctuary, via an engagement with social housing, modernist architecture, common land and horticulture. It draws upon photographic research in and around six tower blocks scheduled for demolition in Grimsby’s East Marsh, where it attends literally and metaphorically to a now-abandoned garden, once only accessible to residents with keys, which was located on the architectural podium linking three of the blocks of flats. This site, with its sense of the medieval ‘hortus conclusus’, prompted a consideration of places of safety, asylum and recuperation, as well as issues of retreat and control.

The investigation was inflected by experiences from the nine years during which I lived and photographed on the 24th floor of a Brighton seafront block, and my more recent return to ground level life in the centre of England in Sheffield, with the particular visual, cultural and economic perspectives these offer. Looking out from on high(rise) and examining the view from the edges of the country to its interior, from the coastal border out to Europe and beyond, and from an economically prosperous area to its opposite, a place in decline, it also discusses twentieth century urban planning, the social stratification enacted in current housing development, and the possibilities for cultivating different futures. Commissioned by We Must Create through funding from Arts Council England, it was first screened in the East Marsh flats during Grimsby’s 2016 Lightworks festival.

Joanne Lee is a senior lecturer in Graphic Design in the Art & Design Research Centre (ADRC). Much of her research develops through a serial publication, the Pam Flett Press, which explores the visual, verbal and temporal possibilities of ‘essaying’ the everyday.