The latest in our series of ‘Meet the CLT Board’. Today, introducing artist Jeanne Van Heeswijk, who helped originate the CLT & who is still continuing to help us work towards #gettingtheterracedone.
“I was asked by the Liverpool Biennial way back in 2009 to work on a public project for their ongoing public commissions. Anfield at that point was in the midst of the devastating governmental regeneration scheme, ‘Housing Market Renewal’. I spent time going around and speaking and listening to people about what their hopes for the future of the area were: one of the people in the community actually said, the clue was in the name – the scheme was called Housing Market Renewal – it’s about markets, not about community. With this in mind I started working with young people in the area to understand what an alternative to the existing situation could look like and how we could work towards taking matters in community hands regarding the future of the area. We started thinking, ‘how could we maybe create homes again planning for the boarded-up houses and showing their worth and their potential?’ Marianne Heaslip from Urbed, who is the architect on the terrace scheme now, was working with me then already. I often had a tea and a bun at Mitchell’s bakery and then I heard that the bakery, which was one of the last remaining businesses on the High Street, had closed down. I negotiated with the Mitchell family that we could actually use their bakery building as our base camp, as our place to start meeting in and working from. In the beginning I was a ‘Biennial Artist’ – and a lot of people in Anfield were critical of the project maybe because of it being related to the arts and maybe because they felt this was just another person coming in from the outside. But when we worked from the bakery, people started coming through the door – and Angie, Sue, Lynn, Jess, Britt and Fred became founding members of Homebaked Bakery and CLT: with time we built up trust between each other and with more and more people around us, slowly building ourselves ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’. I stayed involved as a board member but more from my hometown of Rotterdam – and whenever I come to Liverpool, a pie and coffee is my first stop. To me, it is so exciting to see all the hard work so many people put into regenerating the area, by building the bakery back up and now transforming the dilapidated buildings next to the bakery (in order to offer eight affordable homes for rent and a couple of new business units) not by demolishing them, but doing a sustainable retrofit. And the best part is that it will be owned by the community. This is what Housing Community Renewal should be.”
Photo: Mark Loudon