Whose Opportunity Area?

Jessie Brennan is a London-based artist whose practice explores the inter-relations between people and places – within increasingly contested sites – informed by their social and political contexts and a direct engagement with the individuals who occupy them.

Jessie’s projects tend to be research-led, participatory and ‘situated’, and variously involve drawing, photography, installation, film, performance, writing and publications. Jessie graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007.

She has exhibited extensively in the UK and Europe, and her work is held in public and private collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, among others.

In 2014 she was commissioned by The Foundling Museum to make new work for Progress, an exhibition of four contemporary responses to William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, and for which she created her perhaps best known work to date: A Fall of Ordinariness and Light.

Jessie explores the following:

What are the processes by which one might creatively explore places with the people who occupy them?

How might such processes relate to, engage, challenge or critique neoliberal practices and narratives of urban development, instead producing ‘bottom-up’ histories, revealing contested voices, and creative archives?

In the words of the late geographer, Doreen Massey: “Rather than that dwelling-saturated question of our belonging to a place, we should be asking the question of to whom this place belongs. Who owns it?” 

This is the critical framework for Jessie’s two recent, year-long projects: Regeneration! with residents of Robin Hood Gardens, a social housing estate in east London; and Inside The Green Backyard (Opportunity Area) with users of a community garden in Peterborough. Each site is planned and proposed for redevelopment, respectively.