Plotlands of Shepperton
Newspaper Review by Glyn Robbins:
Expert review by Ken Worpole:
Most insightful review? by Steve Hanson in 'Manchester Review of Books'
Most perceptive review! by Jon Grindrod in 'Caught by the River'.
Insider review from architect and self-builder Jon Wallsgrove (March 2021)
"This is a fascinating study and photographic essay examining what the photographer and author Eric de Maré celebrated in 1950 as “a kind of modern folk art, the crude but spontaneous origins of a culture nurtured by limited time next to the leisurely river”. Stefan Szczelkun admires the surviving chalets from the end of the 1st World War up to the 1948 Planning Act, but also loves the ongoing process of change, the tweaking, ornamenting and rebuilding from the last 70 years. He considers the plotland houses to be “a form of working class cultural expression – an art of architectural improvisation”. Though he acknowledges that “although essentially a landscape of the poor, this very fact in turn attracted to such areas its own bohemian clientele…. actors, actresses, artists and writers…… which contributed to the libertarian atmosphere of such places”. As someone who lives and has self-built in plotlands, I can confirm that to this day it still attracts architects, designers, musicians and other creatives, who live the non-conforming relaxing life of “the river shanty people with their houses on stilts and a rowing boat at the ready”.