Jeanette Lowe - an artist capturing disappearing and invisible communities in the city
Jeanette Lowe is an artist and photographer who, in her work, has become an archivist for what she calls 'invisible' communities living in Dublin city. She grew up in Drimnagh and her mother was reared in Pearse House, off Pearse Street, one of the iconic 1930s and 40s corporation complexes which were designed by Herbert Simms - the city planner behind so many of the public housing developments in that period. Today Pearse House and its neighbouring complex Markievicz House are threatened with demolition.
One city councillor, Chris Andrews has said 'they're 80 years old and not fit for purpose' yet for most of us 80 years is not an old building and these Simms complex have been designated as historic and heritage buildings up until now. Nearly a thousand people still live in Pearse House, few of them are the original families and much has changed, some complain of conditions in the flats, which definitely need refurbishment and upgrading but the art deco blocks look not unlike the kind of refurbished city centre blocks you see in Berlin and London which have become high end apartments.
To renew and regenerate do we need to knock things down? In exploring this question Helen Shaw took a walk through Pearse House with Jeanette Lowe who restored a flat in the complex in 2013 as part of an artistic project which involved living within the community and documenting it through photographs. It brought her back to her childhood and her memories of her grandmother who reared 13 children in her flat but she also explored some of the challenges facing these inner city communities whose stories, culture and heritage is also being lost as the place they lived in changes or is demolished as in St Teresa's Gardens - another community she worked within.
If Pearse House is demolished and all that remains of that community lost will public or affordable housing, to the standard that Pearse House was in its day, be created or will this land, sandwiches between the river and the Silicon Docklands, in prime locations simply become more high rise glass towers excluding these communities and families from the inner city?
Watch a video of SIMMS Dublin which captures a sense of how these buildings became part of the DNA of the city - www.thisiswherewelive.ie/resources