Christmas on the Estate
Project info

This project documents houses at night, decorated for Christmas, around the council estate where I live in North Cambridge. Despite the added cost to their electricity bills, the families on the estate make a real effort during the festive season to light up their homes decoratively. When meeting residents from each of the homes depicted, the topics we discussed ranged from family love to culture and community. Such topics were reflected in these ornate, celebratory contributions. One elderly homeowner, whose house is featured, annually receives Christmas cards from the children on the estate, thanking him for his generous festive efforts. Whilst we may not typically interpret them as such, Ellen Dissanayake, a researcher whose enquiries approach the fields of art and culture within the context of anthropology, describes these types of decorative activities as participative art forms that aim to ‘make special’ of our communities whilst engaging with the people inhabiting them. Despite the critical references to consumerism in the context of this holiday, and in terms of the significance of such elaborate decorations, Dissanayake ‘proposes that making special is an inherited tendency as intrinsic to the human species as speech and toolmaking’ (University of Washington Press, 2016).