...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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[more photos]

September 03, 2004 || 4:58 am

Finally I have my own internet connection fixed up with my laptop, which means I can show y'all some pictures! So, to backtrack, welcome to Greensboro! you can click on all the pictures to see a larger sized version if you would like...

This is what I dived straight into when I arrived...many pairs of hands at Juanita's house

and Andrew Freear, the Yorkshire-born director of the Rural Studio since the death of Sambo Mockbee, and his Italian photographer girlfriend Elena fixing up some windows...

Andrew and Elena have got a grant to document a year in the life of the Rural Studio and produce a book next year. The projects this year are going to be exciting and Elena's already doing a lot of amazing photographic work, so it should be good.

And here is Juanita herself with some of her family, talking to Andrew (sorry for the fuzzy photo)

...and her jars of preserves, neatly installed on her new kitchen shelves.

And this is the Red Barn, the RS's studio building, during a spectacular Alabama sunset. I can't imagine a more extraordinary architecture department building than this old barn clad entirely in rusty corrugated steel, in the almost-ghost town of Newbern. Every time I enter it, I find it hard to believe that we study in this place day in, day out. I will try to post some better pictures in due course when I get time to photograph it properly.

The other part of the RS 'campus' is the Morrisette house, where the office is, the student-built accommodation pods and two supersheds used for meetings and dining, and construction. Below is the construction supershed where one of the thesis teams is finishing making trusses for the new fire station opposite the Red Barn.

They have done all the work themselves; building the laminated timber beams, welding the metalwork, and pouring the foundations on site - a phenomenal achievement but one that explains why this project has not been completed within the year that thesis projects are inteneded to take. Most of last year's thesis projects are still under construction due to their ambitious scale as community buildings.

Today we had our first history class, going out to visit a former plantation at Fulsom. Quite extraordinary and moving, especially the plantation store where all the sharecroppers were forced to shop due to the system of credit under which they worked.

But it was strange to me that the main focus of the class was less on the plantation and sharecropping social order and more on the architecture and craft of the buildings on the site and the agricultural processes which they served. The huge poverty and inequality which must have enabled the building and manning of the plantation was not mentioned, despite the presence of a slave register in the shop. Perhaps this was due to the presence of the middle-aged descendant of the plantation family who acts as a tour guide on the historic site. But the sheer physical labour of building even the simplest structure with primitive hand tools was impressed upon us at every turn - the marks of axes and hand drills pointed out - without mention of the fact of whose labour it was that was used.

And while our guide remarked that a huge number of people depended on the plantation owner for their livelihood and land, he did not point out that the opposite was also true; that without the bonded labour of slaves and then sharecroppers, the plantation and the relatively luxurious life of his ancestors would not have been possible.

This weekend is Labor Day and almost everyone is going back either to Auburn for the football game, to visit their girl/boyfriends or to their parents.



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