To set the scene, St Clements hospital in Mile End, East London has a dark history; originally a workhouse, the site soon became home to an NHS psychiatric hospital, with all matter of unsavoury treatments occurring here, including electric shock therapy, it’s a sprawling site stretching far back to where the hospital morgue sits, backing onto Tower Hamlets Cemetery. Closed in 2005, it is as though the staff and patients just got up and left one day. All the signage remains, washing up left on the sink, filing cabinets, furniture…
The site is soon to become the countries first Urban Community Land Trust, partly owned by residents, with the aim to build affordable housing, which , when sold goes back into the Land Trust so that it remains affordable. There is also hope that the site will become a focal point for the Mile End communities creative endeavours. To try and push the case for this, a 2 week festival, Shuffle, curated by local resident Danny Boyle took place in August. There was film, theatre, exhibitions, workshops, a cafe/bar, gardening and much more.
Whilst filming on another project at St Clements before the festival began for The Legacy List, I stumbled across some artists installing an exhibition in one of the derelict buildings. Being the curious type, I got chatting with curator Miranda Housden, and soon enough I was creating a film about their fascinating exhibition.
Eight local artists created site-specific work in the abandoned rooms and corridors, celebrating compulsive behaviour exploring childhood, mutability and society’s perception of normality.
For more information on the future plans for the St Clements site visit www.stclementssocialclub.com.