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LCF23: Chronicle of Battersea's notorious council housing estate with MA Fashion Journalism graduate Jodi Clarke

Image of Doddington and Rollo tower blocks at night
  • Written byLubna Hussain
  • Published date 10 February 2023
Image of Doddington and Rollo tower blocks at night
Image of Doddington and Rollo tower blocks at night | by Jodi Clarke - MA Fashion Journalism 2023

LCF Postgraduate Class of 2023 features work from our three world-leading design, communications and business schools to demonstrate how LCF students look beyond the traditional notions of fashion to imagine a new and exciting future. A bustling two-day exhibition will offer a unique perspective into LCF’s postgraduate work by immersing visitors in the future of fashion through displays of design, film, photography, VR and more from LCF’s boundary-breaking students at the infamous Truman Brewery in east London. In light of the celebrations, we're finding out more about work from this year's graduating cohort.

We got in touch with graduate Jodi Clarke from MA Fashion Journalism on her project ‘Battersea’s Doddy’ where she shares the stories of local residents of the tower block in Doddington and Rollo in Southwest London. Over a century ago the area was gifted to soldiers who made it back from the First World War. Though it’s now deemed ‘unglamorous’ by the media, her book explores the colourful, vibrant hearts of the community and the respectable dwellings from the government that has shaped culture in London for the working class in Battersea.

Childhood photograph in front of Battersea's Council estate
Childhood photograph in front of Battersea's Council estate | by Jodi Clarke - MA Fashion Journalism 2023
What is the meaning behind your final graduate project ‘Battersea’s Doddy’?

The title of my book is named “Battersea’s Doddy”, it explores the meaning of community through the eyes of past and present residents of the tower block in Doddington and Rollo estate in south-west London.

The title questions the element of ownership, though the Battersea occupants aren’t owners of the estate, it is seen as the people’s estate. Their home. Through my book I presented their voices and views around the place which they call their own.

Why did you decide to base it around Southwest London, what story are you trying to tell?

I am originally from south-west London; it brings a great number of experiences from diverse cultures to the political divide across the city. It was high time that someone built a voice for working-class people of London and gave them a chance to share their story. Since London is known as the upcoming city that never sleeps, throughout the year people are working overtime to make ends meet. People travel across the country to have experienced the fast lifestyle, towing shops, and British culture. But sometimes it is hard for tourists to look further past the headlines about the high crime in “urban” areas.

I designed a book for this very reason, it caters to the public on a widespread approach. I studied the local news in the Wandsworth borough to support my development and understanding. Communicating with those who live in the borough and on Doddington and Rollo estate, I found it to be an unsaid duty in representing the community with a conscious mind.

Two male workers behind the counter and a customer at Battersea Fish Bar
Battersea Fish Bar | by Jodi Clarke - MA Fashion Journalism 2023
How has the media represented Wandsworth in the past? How would you like to change the current connotations it is associated with?

The borough of Wandsworth is filled with strong labour following and holds many communities from working-class backgrounds. Wandsworth has been a target for negative media involving crime, police searches and anti-social behaviour. It has come the time to change the narrative, we are in an uncertain time of financial crisis, racial inequality and post-covid. My project is an opportunity for society to hear positive stories from communities and to develop voices of change.

What does community mean to you? Please mention about the working-class culture and what that brings to a neighbourhood.

Community means togetherness, culture, and safety. From a working-class background, I understand the trials faced but to break out of that creates a stronger mentality.

With the world becoming faster each year, it became difficult to speak to working people on and around the estate, a small neighbourhood had started to feel bigger than it is. The working- class culture has been renowned to not have many holidays or being able to afford the luxury of rest, but I was able to explore the lives behind everyone’s jobs. I began to witness the work ethic of individuals on the estate brought an element of order and routine which is another part of their identity.

What led you to explore the history of council architecture in the 60s/70s? How has it impacted the rise of gentrification?

The gentrifiers promoted an idea of the "urban village" which enabled the communities to be both part of the inner city and separate from it, close to its even ties but cut off from social issues. In the 60s and 70s, London began to be transformed and it moved and built areas with the people to be transformed into the city we know today.

Image of boxing ring, Carney's Community, Helping people to
Carney's Community, Helping people to "be the best they can be" Mick Carney MBE (1935-2011) | by Jodi Clarke - MA Fashion Journalism 2023
Old photograph in Battersea Estate
Old photograph in Battersea Estate | by Jodi Clarke - MA Fashion Journalism 2023
Two school kids boy arm wrapped around girl's shoulders
Two school kids | by Jodi Clarke - MA Fashion Journalism 2023
Did you encounter any challenges in your research during the production of your project?

The challenge I faced was building relationships with people on Doddington estate, generating a level of trust for me to step into their world.  The community taught me that there aren’t enough hours in the day at times, everyone is on the go or closed off from the hectic factors of London. Some of those who chose to seclude themselves away were difficult to speak to, society has formed a resistance. Many living in public housing do not want to identify with the current government or in Britain as they feel as they are perceived as “other”. So, I had to create other forms of conversation starters to build a rapport, a bond that is honourable in the community.

What led you to study MA Journalism at LCF? What would be your best words of advice for someone looking to join the course?

LCF is renowned as a top University for not only the arts but communication. MA Journalism is filled with some of the best tutors and offers many opportunities for development. My advice, use the college for all it can offer and never be afraid to ask questions.