Stuart Whipps’ work is underpinned by the processes and history of photography. He teases out narratives from historic artefacts and records to address specific places or moments in time. City Club offers a unique opportunity to look at the role of art in Milton Keynes as it reaches its 50th anniversary. Stuart will produce an artist film and a publication which responds to this moment in the context of the historic relationship between the New Towns movement and art. Built during the optimism of post-war Britain, towns such as Reading, Peterlee, Harlow and Milton Keynes have become landscapes of either mass consumption or high unemployment in a single generation.
In conception at least the idea of ‘new towns’ often carries the assumption of a rigid adherence to master plans and grids rather than ‘organic’ ideas of development. As the example of Milton Keynes demonstrates, there is as much opportunity for change and amendment - architectural, social and cultural - in the evolution of a ‘new town’ as can be found in any other. Stuart’s work will explore what happens when utopian vision rubs up against reality.
The film, with commissioned sound track, will blend new footage with archival material, juxtaposing the 1970's vision against reality and be completed through an extended period of research and engagement with those involved in designing the city and its various communities.
The project involves close collaboration with Milton Keynes City Discover Centre and The Open University, whose identity, history and cultural contribution as the ‘University of the Air’ has been enmeshed with that of Milton Keynes.
This commission forms part of a longer term project to make a film around the New Towns act of 1946, the first part of which was made in the North East of England in 2012.
We grateful for the additional support of The Elephant Trust and The Open University for this project.