For our first CCS project we looked at souvenirs and ways we could create an alternative souvenir to tell an alternative story of London. I focussed on the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Clock Tower or Big Ben. After looking through the current souvenir options available, I finally settled on a ‘Build your own’ model.
The houses of parliament have been the seat of British government since 1295. The original Palace of Westminster, built in the middle ages, was destroyed in a fire in 1834. The gothic structure we see today was designed by Sir Charles Barry. “The Elizabeth Tower, which stands at the north end of the Houses of Parliament, was completed in 1859”
I chose to model my souvenir on Big Ben because of its connection to the Houses of Parliament. Both parts of the building were built by people who would never see its profit. This has always intrigued me, and if we analyze the majority of individuals within, we find that, especially the House of Lords, consist mainly of white upper class males. A far cry from the makeup of those who created it. This theme can be seen in many areas of London. The gentrification of previously run-down areas, paving the way for the rise of the middle-upper class and forcing the inhabitants to move elsewhere.
With these ideas in mind, I decided to manipulate the famous landmark of Big Ben and add my own twist. I added printed £50 notes and covered the entire exterior of the model to represent that the government and individuals within parliament, who hold an unequal amount of the wealth of Britain and control the distribution of funding throughout the country. The printed £50 notes I chose to use served a dual purpose.
Not only do they symbolise financial inequality but “Under section 18(1) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 it is a criminal offence for any person, without the prior consent in writing of the Bank of England, to reproduce on any substance whatsoever, and whether or not on the correct scale, any Bank of England banknote or any part of a Bank of England banknote.” By constructing my alternative souvenir my audience would be breaking the law, an act of rebellion in itself.