An article appeared in my newsfeed yesterday, with an image of David Beckham in a flat cap in a field (he looked impeccable, of course), heralding the rise of ‘cottagecore’, a fashion and lifestyle aesthetic that includes baking, gardening and crochet. Keeping bees. Growing your own. I get it. Much of it coincides with my own interests, because of course it does. I like to grow things, in whatever space or container that is to hand. I’ve baked soda bread in lockdown (Jack Monroe recipe) rather than sourdough. I bought a make-your-own-crochet-rainbow from etsy, bouyed up by early success with a knitting doll, although sadly ‘learn to crochet and teach crochet simultaneously to my son’ hasn’t been my actioned on my lockdown to-do list. Yet.
I like pictures of meadows. And coasts. And watching Gardener’s World. However, in these strange times I have also become oddly interested in concrete. I have all the usual yearnings for the sea and for green landscapes, but also for concrete and cityscapes. On facebook I have become wildly enamoured with the photos of architecture on the Brutalism Appreciation Society and the Socialist Modernism groups. It took me a while to understand, but I think what I’m missing is population density. Not socialising. Even – or especially – emails are exhausting social interactions.
I am currently enjoying the photographs in the Zupagrafika book ‘Eastern Blocks: Concrete Landscapes of the Former Eastern Bloc’. They are largely empty images, with the occasional figure of a human or a dog emphasising the scale of the buildings. But the repeating patterns of windows or balconies in the architecture at least imply the possibility of teeming populations, of life. I keep thinking of that meme: ‘Introverts Unite! Separately, in your own homes.’