Voices of St. Mary's
Living like Cave-Dwellers
Drawings and photos by Wayne Cheetham
Text and editing by Klaus-dieter Michel
St. Mary's Estate was a residential area by Oldham in Northengland near Manchester. Among others it was in the sixties a social model for the british soap opera Coronation Street.
And today? Although St. Mary`s has been demolished recently it still remains to me as a metaphor for the people`s way of living in the northwest of England. And the conflicts and contradictions in the society of a country which is despite of 'New Britain' still ruled very "tough" by policy and economy.
Please spend a bit time and read...
back to Residential Area
I have been only once in St. Mary’s Estate.
On that sunny and friendly afternoon Wayne and I walk to the entrance of that block where we want to meet Dave. Dave - Wayne has described him as a very chaotic and paranoid guy - should own an old bomber-radio from the Worldwar II. That would be a perfect part for an art environment which i prepared at that time.
The letter-boxes in front of the elevator are obviously not used any more. Hundred times overpainted and entitled with gloomy appearing messages. In the elevator which appears to me like the inside of an empty tool-box with a concrete bottom it smells of disinfectants. Also here hundreds of writings and tags. The messages of the writers itself were tried to be removed. Obviously with too caustic substances. Everywhere on the walls in the elevator in the corridor i discover matt gleaming tracks of scrubbings...
...But there is no chance. Slowly comes layer on layer. Signs and words which cover everything.
On the corridor it is oddly silent. From time to time only dog-barking. But nobody is to see. From the gallery comes strong sunlight into the long corridor. Nevertheless here in the depth of the passage is everything illuminated with a shimmering green light. From where does it come? Like in a computer-game-maze.
Wayne and i are now in front of Dave’s door. Number 46. Only on this floor are approximately 60 apartments. Everywhere humans scantily locking up themselfes. No noise. Dave seems to be not at home. Through the letter-slot we can see a small cut-out from his living-cave. „Ey - look there, there is the bomberradio.“ So i look through the letter-slot. I see only anxiety. A tiny cut-out.