Nicola Muirhead

In Brutal Presence
Location: London, United Kingdom
Nationality: Bermudian
Biography: Nicola Muirhead is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller from the island of Bermuda, specializing in long-form projects and portraiture. Nicola’s practice is rooted in sharing the lived stories of individuals and communities as... read on
Public Story
In Brutal Presence
Copyright nicola muirhead 2021
Date of Work 06/14/17 - Ongoing
Updated 11/12/18
The tragedy of Grenfell Tower has awakened the London community to the issues surrounding social housing in the most violent way - and in a broader context - to the negative impacts of gentrification and "regeneration" projects on social inequality in London. The fire of June 14th that consumed almost 80% of the tower block should have been a self-contained incident within that 1970s brutalist structure. Instead, the flames turned into a fireball, helped by the newly fitted cladding placed on the building to "beautify" its appearance for the luxury apartments nearby.
The severity of this event has left a physical and emotional mark on the community of North Kensington - and many residents have been dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and flashbacks of that terrible day. These nine residents reflect on the event, as well as the many other threats that the council imposed on the community, just months before the fire of Grenfell. Regeneration plans were set in motion for the Silchester Estate and Lanacaster Estate of Latimer Road, to be torn down beginning of September 2018. It was the fire at Grenfell, which stopped those plans from happening - for now.
Many fear the threat of social cleansing is still in the cards for residents. For decades, these residents and their families have been fighting with the council, in an attempt to prevent their lives from being uprooted from the community. This is the reality of social housing in London's richest borough. The following quotes were collected between June 14th 2017, till present. It is a resident's insight into the complexities of housing in North Kensington. It is a story they have lived, and re-lived, for generations in the borough of North Kensington.
In Brutal Presence has been an on-going documentary project that began in 2016 and focuses on certain realities surrounding social housing in London, and the impacts of gentrification and "revitalisation" to urban communities through the borough of North Kensington. The neighbouring council estates and tower blocks of Grenfell have all shared the same history and are all part of the same story. They have witnessed the changes to their neighbourhoods over the years through the process of gentrification, and are growingly concerned about the impacts this will have on their future.
This documentary series seeks to highlight their thoughts and perspectives, using interviews and portraiture to narrate the story, as they reflect on living within the wealthiest borough of London. It is a chance for them to share their lived experiences; their hopes and fears in this ever-changing reality that is London.

 North Kensington