Shangri-la, Cotterrell’s affectionate ode to his childhood home, is a timebased
photographic montage depicting 80 of the hundreds of identical
semi-detached houses built in Gants Hill in the1930’s. The piece, named
for Ray Davies’ suburban idyll, was commissioned for exhibition at the
Museum of Garden History, London.
Within a glass case, an LCD screen morphs digitised images, enabling one
identical house to gently flow into the next. The camera’s relentless study
of the architecture invites us to recognise differences between seemingly
similar buildings. We see the facade of each house has been altered,
autographed by its inhabitants: one is covered with a veneer of stone
cladding, another decorated with gnomes, but all share the desire to stand
out. Residents have gone to startling lengths to create uniqueness out of
sameness. An ambient soundtrack of sprinklers and birdsong, composed
by Jim Copperthwaite, accompanies the work via headphones.
Exposing the choice involved in placing the car outside the house when
ample street parking exists, Cotterrell celebrates the spaces where the
Fiesta is placed in higher esteem than the freesia and asks his audience to
consider the inherent prejudice involved in aesthetic judgement.
Housed within the vitrine, the piece queries the amnesiac history offered by
the museum - an institution in which the aristocratic gardens of Lancelot
Capability Brown are held in higher esteem than the DIY gardens of
working and middle class England.