Below is an extract from the original introduction to the (one off) hardback book of prints produced in 1991:
"The following set of prints are the result of a self-initiated investigation into a housing estate in the West Midlands, typical in architectural style of many in Britain built during the 1960's. Typical also in the fact that has not stood the test of time and four of the ten tower blocks are due for demolition 1992, and these blocks, consequently, have few remaining tenants and have been progressively run down.
My primary aim was to convey to an audience the visual experience of what it might be like to live on such an estate. I was concerned with producing an accurate documentation of the conditions and environment in which people live, and in turn, allow the viewer to make up its own mind.
Despite the disadvantages in living standards that the residents of the estate endure, it is common for certain 'categories' of people to be grouped together. Many of the residents of Lion Farm Estate are relatively disadvantaged in 1990's Britain, many are unemployed, often with families to support. There are many young single parent families, and equally there are many pensioners relying on the state pension only. If this were not enough, active social engineering has taken place on the estate with all those in employment being moved into specific blocks, whilst those unemployed being allocated to other less well maintained blocks, soon to be demolished. Residents often spoke of how bad things had become in only the last two years.
In the Eighties the government passed laws to restrict the building of new council homes from the funds gained from the sale of council homes and land. A large expanse of land will soon be available to private developers after the demolition of several of the tower blocks. This will provide the council with a large sum of money, yet no new council housing may be built. Many residents are hoping to be relocated into new 'housing association' dwellings to be built on the land, but these are only allocated to the most needy on the council's waiting list. Nevertheless, one cannot help noticing a cycle of events of inadequate housing provision and it is not hard, therefore, to see that some residents of Lion Farm Estate will miss out once more in the competition for a home."
Robert Clayton, 1991.
Lion Farm Estate is a housing estate near Oldbury in the West Midlands Borough of Sandwell and Dudley. These images were produced by Rob Clayton between the Autumn of 1990 and Summer of 1991 whilst studying for a degree in photography at Wolverhampton Polytechnic between 1988 and 1991.
A selection of around twenty of the photographs were exhibited in 1991 in a group show under the banner of "Household Choices" at (the old) Walsall Art Gallery, Wednesbury Art Gallery and the Midland Arts Centre (MAC).
The images were not seen again until 2015 when Clayton published them in a book called "Estate" available to buy at www.stayfreepublishing.co.uk
Since 2015 the images have been exhibited widely in the UK and been published worldwide in many print and on line publications.
In 2018, Clayton was commissioned by Multistory to return to Lion Farm Estate and produce a new body of documentary photography. "Estate Return" will be published at a future date to be confirmed. Please see NEWS section for latest updates where this work is featured and exhibited.