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The Newspaper House: At Last a use for London’s Freesheets

The Newspaper House: At Last a use for London’s Freesheets
Arts & Culture
Amanda Gore (PSFK London)
  • 28 february 2008

Yesterday’s Guardian Media Briefing pointed us to The Newspaper House, a public art installation as social and environmental statement currently under construction in East London. Over a one-week period artist Sumer Erek in partnership with Creative City and a team of helpful volunteers, is erecting a five-metre tall house made entirely out of freesheet newspapers contributed by members of the public. The frame for the building is currently being put in place in Dalston’s Gillett Square, built of course from sustainably sourced wood, ready for the week-long paper extravaganza which starts next Monday. The project’s MySpace page explains further:

‘ London has a growing problem with the large quantities of free newspapers that clutter our streets and public transport. Tube passengers alone discard approximately nine-and-a-half tonnes of freesheet newspapers a day.

This is a lot of paper. What do about it?

On March 3rd, sculptor and installation artist Sumer Erek will construct a (5 m3) ‘House’ in Gillett Square, out of newspapers brought by members of the public. Visitors will insert their own observations, secrets, etc into the newspapers and add them to the structure. In this way, the public connects with the Newspaper House; their action is a contribution to the building of a public project.

The Newspaper House as an interactive public artwork is an opportunity to invite the public to participate and actually be involved in creating an artwork.

The theme of the project is “the city is our home” and as well as being an art work in its own right – exploring a variety of themes around the concept of “house” and the materiality of paper, the notion of waste and value – the project also encourages people to think about protecting and improving the environment, so that we can enjoy a cleaner, healthier world, together with a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood, and a wish of all to make it a pleasant place to live in.’

Getting in on the action, online campaign Project Freesheet took to the streets last night to collect up as many discarded papers as possible within two hours. the 70 volunteers collected close to 8000 free papers- weighing in at 800kg of paper – all of which will be used in the Newspaper House, and then we assume recycled? Despite the project’s huge environmental statement that is being proudly supported by the local Hackney Council, there is so far no mention of what will happen after the big unveiling, nor of the glue being used to hold every rolled-up paper in place or the plastic strips being used to bind each bundle- we can only assume that these are biodegradable and it has all been planned with the highest eco-morals. Otherwise isn’t it just a case of greenwashing for artistic purposes?

Visit The Newspaper House from Monday

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