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a place bears the name

Functioning as a visual essay, A Place Bears the Name explores the social and psychological effects of the ruins found within Crystal Palace Park. Developed as a collaborative research project, Lydia Porter and Sam Wills created a body of work that investigates the spectre of an empire that is felt but not seen. This was exhibited at Tension Fine Art in June 2023 and was a part of the London Festival of Architecture.


At the top expanse of the park, nestled amongst the Sphinxes and headless statues ever falling slowly into disrepair, sits a small birdhouse made by Sam Wills in 2018. Within the trees overlooking the ruins of the Crystal Palace, the birdhouse nods to a more peripheral history attributed to The Great Exhibition and to our inadvertent interaction with a site both saturated-with, and detached from the past. Departing from the birdhouse as the project’s starting point, A Place Bears the Name explores the ruins within the park as a gateway into ideas of collective amnesia, colonial memory and national melancholia. Viewing the site as an invisible ruin, Lydia and Sam investigate the long-term effects of The Great Exhibition, focusing on the absence and negative space left by the palace. Drawing on Freud’s theory of Melancholia and Paul Gilroy’s subsequent theory of Post-Colonial Melancholia, the mostly immaterial ruins are read as ghosts haunting the contemporary site.


Employing video, print, text and collage, A Place Bears the Name layers research and fragmented material as a calling-to-being of the indeterminate loss embedded within the site.

To request access to the video essay please use the contact page.

Duration: 17m

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