Monday, 29 April 2013

The Relentless Rise of the Rent

The rising rental market in London is something I addressed previously in my work, in my painting 'Shoebox'. Five years on the situation is far worse - with the disparity between average salaries and the cost of renting escalating.

In this new series: 'The Relentless Rise of the Rent' I am responding to the issues and problems connected to housing and the private rental market in London.

I started by collecting images of real adverts I’d seen in Estate Agent windows, quick snapshots taken on my phone of rotten looking properties advertized for phenomenal weekly rents.  This collecting process of the Estate Agent adverts is ongoing and has provided the starting point for these paintings.

£327 per week for this Stunning Two Bedroom Apartment
Oil on Board

£319 per week for this Gorgeous One Bed Flat
Oil on Canvas

  £330 per week for this Bright and Airy Two Bedroom Flat
Oil on Canvas

Although my work has moved on and the autobiographical anecdotes and statements do not feature in these pieces the personal narrative is still very much present.  I personally find it really difficult to survive in London with the financial pressure of high rent to pay, and amongst social circles it is a subject often being discussed.  

Comparative to other European cities or towns in the UK the London rent prices are phenomenal and are rising fast.  In other countries regulations are different, with five or ten year tenancys being the norm, meaning that people can feel that their rental property is ‘home’ without living in fear of the landlord raising the rent on a yearly basis.  Tenants can make significant changes to their rental properties which helps to create the feeling of ‘home’, tenants in London often feel that their accommodation is temporary and tenancy agreements often specify that only minimal changes can be made to properties.

I wanted to create some paintings in response to this situation, being something that I am directly affected by I wanted to create a series which was an honest and heartfelt response.  I was also interested in the element of documentation, recording and describing a very current issue that in time would capture and illustrate something specific to our generation.  No doubt in five years time the rent prices I am currently recording will have increased, what will the situation be like?  Will it become too difficult to live in London without an executive pay packet?

Adequate housing is a human right, outlined in the Universal Declaration of human rights.  How is it then that our homes have become consumerist commodities just like anything else?  With estate agents and landlords responding to the demand and using our 'homes' to generate the highest revenue they can.

Our exhibition in Vienna ‘Affluence & Avarice’ is about greed, and although my paintings about the housing prices might not be overtly referencing this, I think the issues are directly linked.   The reasons for the current housing crisis are complex, it is connected to the on-going global economic problems, the root of this being the negative effects of capitalism.  It’s about the increasing wealth divide.  Are landlords greedy?  It's more complex than that...The over population and demand for properties means that the landlords increase the rents to stay inline with the market…Do we need regulations in place to protect our homes?

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