Trip to Lille


On 14 November we went to Lille to visit Nicolette Picheral in Lille Sud, an area which Clare used to visit fairly often when working at UCA as project co-ordinator of the Mode Future interreg project. At the time they were still laying the new pavement! Many of the designers’ fashion studios/shops are still there.

We also went see Pierre Yves Brest’s new exhibition Opus Incertum, a term still used by architects today and which refers to the ancient Roman construction technique of using irregular shaped and randomly placed stones. The exhibition, in Tourcoing on the border with Belgium, includes photographs of young people in an institution and a film examining the theme of the ‘border’, ‘wall’, ‘frontier’ or ‘barrier’.  The work was made during a residency in the districts known as La Bourgogne and La Marlière from June to September 2013.  The film is a fascinating and disturbing exposé of a community that has literally been marginalised, placed within a fortress, but also keeping itself within that fortress (a Redoubt) on the edge, on the border, out of the way; the community, living by means of a parallel economy now wards off mainstream society and is wary of prying eyes or interference. Making the film was a traumatic experience and Pierre-Yve’s account of the making was insightful and revealing.

Earlier in the day we went to a lunchtime presentation of an urban regeneration/town planning project which is renovating some remaining houses in a district of the town initially due to be demolished. Tourcoing used to be a major textile industry town and is now suffering from the problems of deindustrialisation resulting from the decline traditional textile manufacture. The houses were saved in response to a campaign by residents against their demolition. The time- and resource-intensive scheme, being implemented over several years, involves renovation with the present occupiers and buying up and renovating some of the empty properties, Although the original occupiers are not wholly satisfied with a renovation plan which although done in consultation with residents has to follow guidelines laid down by the town planners and the architect, the integration of new residents moving into the area has been successful. Some of the houses are for rent and some are available to buy and after the presentation we visited a show home and spoke to the tenant, who had an agreement under the scheme to allow visitors to look around.

In the evening we were treated to a wonderful fish waterzooi (Belgian fish dish somewhere between a soup and a stew) prepared by Jean-Luc du Val.