Once referred to as a ‘battleground in urban geography’ by academics, gentrification is the phenomenon of a large and relatively sudden in-migration of wealthy middle-class residents into previously poor or working-class neighbourhoods. A controversial subject to say the least, gentrification and the changing urban landscape has been a key focus of my work over the last three years.
As a native South-East Londoner forced out of the capital by rising rent prices, extortionate living costs and hostile reminders of my lowly social status, such as my council flat being surrounded by gated communities and apartments for young, single, wealthy city-types, I started to document the effects of gentrification on my life. In 2015 I wrote about the surprisingly important role that nail shops played in Peckham as a way of resisting gentrification for SE15 Paper. I spoke to women who frequently visited one of my favourite nail salons in the area and asked why such places are an oasis for women from working class and ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as a communal hub and a vibrant world of their own. In May 2017 I produced a short film called ‘Denim’, exploring gentrification in South-East London. I took a trip down memory lane, visiting the places that shaped me, including my secondary school and explored how the area has changed - not necessarily for the benefit of its original community - and left those who built it behind.