Monica Ross joined ISIS in 2007 for a research residency.
Monica spent her time at ISIS researching and developing a new video work in St. Lawrence Square, Byker, Newcastle. The video was intended to form a companion piece to a video made from her former flat in St. Lawrence Square, which was due to be demolished at the time of filming; the area was the site of a large regeneration programme. The now demolished flats formerly represented the ultimate in Utopian living.
In the videos Monica Ross reflected on the current housing conditions through her observations of St. Lawrence Square, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, over a span of 5 years.
The St. Lawrence Square flats were built around a park by the Tyne in the 1890s and modernised as part of the socialist inspired design of Ralph Erskine's Byker Housing Development in the 1970s. By 2003, the Tyneside industries which were the mainstay of Byker's once thriving community were long gone. Many of the St. Lawrence flats had fallen into disrepair or dereliction and the Square and its park had come to be considered as a no go area by outsiders.
The initial work, 'Bykermorning', filmed from spring - winter 2003, shows the view from a deserted utopia: a home movie frames idyllic views from a window inside the flat to counter this external perception and to belie its 'failure' as social housing.
The second, which developed through Monica's residency with ISIS, 'Fallen idyll' sees the end of a perspective: a home movie, is a fractured, split screen document of the demolition of this former worker's housing on what is now considered to be a desirable riverside site. Shown together, the videos are a meditation on the passage of time and season and, as one era has become another, the changed value of housing as a means to create private wealth rather than affordable, quality homes for all.
'Fallen Idyll' - the end of a perspective was installed at St. Michael's Church, Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, in September 2008.
Bykermorning - the view from a deserted utopia: a home movie was produced with support from ACE North East 2003. Fallen idyll - the end of a perspective: a home movie was produced with the support of an ISIS Arts research residency 2007.