One of the city’s last pre-fab estates in Catford has been turned into a pop-up exhibition this month, filled with photos, films and memorabilia documenting the history of post-war housing in the area.
Excalibur Estate was built by Italian and German prisoners of war between 1945 and 1946, but only 6 of the 187 pre-fab houses have been awarded a grade 2 listing and will still stand after Lewisham council approved a plan to regenerate the estate and build 371 new homes.
The exhibition, curated by photographer Elisabeth Blanchet, explores the area, its history and its community. The photos, installations and items collected by Jo Cooper, Harriet McDougall, Sarah Gregory, Jane Hearn and other artists all celebrate life in a pre-fab.
Blanchet said: “This is the last chance to visit this incredible area before its social history disappears for good. We have 9 people exhibiting, with many pictures, drawings, documentaries.”
“A very interesting installation by Jo Cooper is made with shoe boxes. Looking inside the boxes you can see a slide show of photographs of the estate. There is also a wall full of pictures of the pre-fabs: the idea is that people who have lived there before can pick up their picture and take it to their new home, so they will never forget.”
Blanchet explained that the opening, that took place last Saturday (March 8), was a success. A lot of people from very different backgrounds visited the exhibition and brought their old pictures, posters and illustrations, actively contributing to the museum. “There was a strong sense of community”, she said.
The exhibition, at 17 Meliot Road, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 4.30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm.