Elina Jokipii’s Block X traces some of the real and imagined lives of residents from Whitecross Street Estate’s Block X on Roscoe Street, EC1, which was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941. The photographs show current local residents (Jokipii’s neighbours) taking on the characters and trades of people from the past, inspired by Block X’s actual residents, as recorded in the census of 1911.
For this project Jokipii’s explored London Metropolitan Archives, Islington Local History Centre and Peabody’s own archives. The project is a tribute to both past and present residents of the Whitecross Street area – by dressing as characters from the past we have been touched by the lives who have made Whitecross Street a vibrant area through the centuries. Although the fabric of the area has gone through some extreme changes, some of them violent, it is the people who continue to make Whitecross Street what it is, past, present and future.
Whitecross Street Estate was built by Peabody in 1883, following the Compulsory Purchase Orders of previous dwellings in the area that were deemed unhealthy – as part of the Artisans and Labourers Dwellings Improvement Act 1877 to improve the living conditions of the working poor. Along with other buildings nearby Block X was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1941. After the war, the site was sold to the Church of England, who put up a prefabricated community hall, replaced in the late 70’s by the St Luke’s Church Centre. Today this building is home to art gallery Kunstraum.
Block X was produced by Kunstraum for Whitecross Street Party 2019. With support from Whitecross Street Party and Arts Council England.
This work is currently on display in Quaker Court, Banner St, London EC1Y 8QB