Ferguson’s Gang and

the octopus

image from R&D in 2018 photo credit Adam Hillier

image from R&D in 2018 photo credit Adam Hillier

image from R&D in 2018 photo credit Adam Hillier

image from R&D in 2018 photo credit Adam Hillier

Background:

In his 1928 book, England and the Octopus, Clough Williams-Ellis frames the Octopus as the encroaching arms of market-forced building. The book inspired the formation of Ferguson’s Gang, a group of young women who vowed to ‘destroy the Octopus.’ They saved wild landscapes, bought heritage properties and significantly raised the profile of the National Trust, and other conservation campaigns. Dubbed ‘Benevolent Gangsters’ they wore masks and cloaks, held gang rituals and led stunts like ambushing the National Trust HQ with silver pineapples full of money.

 

Idea:

Inspired by Ferguson’s Gang, their passion, eccentricity, and use of comedy to heighten the profile of serious issues, we founded our own ‘gang’ to engage a wider audience in these debates.

We wanted to open up conversation about the housing sector using our superpowers: playfulness, creativity and satire. In 2018 we conscripted a diverse group of artists, activists, consultants, researchers and local residents to prototype a range of public interventions. The result is a collection of games, installations and interruptions that provoke public debate about housing, galvanising conversations on the high street.

Moving forwards we will use this format to work with local stakeholders. We will use play to facilitate alternative- and hopefully better conversations about one of the most pressing subjects of today - housing. We want to support a move towards planning participation that is transformative, inclusive and beneficial to all parties.


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Future Development:

In 2019 we are further developing Ferguson’s Gang and the Octopus, in partnership with Hatfair, Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts and Lakes Alive.

Support & Funding:

Supported by Arts Council England through Glastonbury Circus and Theatre Commissions, Pervasive Media Studio, Hatfair and Lakes Alive.

The R&D for The People Versus the Octopus was supported by Blueprint: Without Walls R&D Investment Fund.
Without Walls is the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond. For more information on the work of Without Walls, please visit www.withoutwalls.uk.com

image from R&D in 2018 photo credit Adam Hillier

image from R&D in 2018 photo credit Adam Hillier

image from R&D in 2018

image from R&D in 2018

“The satire is spot on, sharp and of the moment”- Andrew Loretto, Director- Hatfair

 
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