Creativity from Suburban Nowheres: Rethinking Cultural and Creative Practices
Published: July 2023© 2023
390 Pages, 6.13 x 9.25 x 1.00 in, 24 b&w illustrations, 9 b&w maps, 5 b&w figures, and 2 b&w tables
Looking at suburbs as places of creativity gives rise to novel and thought-provoking narratives that typically run counter to the idea that suburbs are sites of "ordinary," "mundane," and "everyday" practices. Far from being geographies of "nowhere" – dull, materialistic, and monotone – suburbs are unpacked as being heterogeneous and historically layered places of living, work, and creation. Situating creativity in place and time, Creativity from Suburban Nowheres displaces mainstream understandings of creativity and widespread stereotypes commonly associated with the suburbs.
Contributors explore the particular forms of creativity that suburbs elicit both in the process of their making, materialization, and community construction, and in the myriad ways in which suburbs are inhabited and experienced. They highlight accounts of suburbs as places that give people the space and latitude to shape individual and collective identities through creative practices at odds with mainstream culture, and often remote from the classic agglomeration "assets" associated with inner cities.
Anchored in historical and geographical research, this volume highlights how and in what forms creativity should be understood in the suburbs, why and when creativity can be found, and how the notion of suburban creativity overthrows ingrained and dominant normative viewpoints. Rather than seeing creativity arise despite its suburban location, Creativity from Suburban Nowheres illuminates the emancipatory potential of suburbs for creativity.
List of Illustrations and Tables
Part I: Openings
1. Rethinking Creative and Cultural Practices from the Outside in – An Interdisciplinary Exploration
Ilja Van Damme, Ruth McManus, and Michiel Dehaene
2. The Uncool Hunt: Searching for the Creative Suburb
Part II: The Suburban Home as Locus of Creativity
3. “Pictures, Plants, and Ornaments”: Jane Ellen Panton and Creative Practice in the British Victorian Suburbs
4. Battlegrounds of Taste and Distinction: Art and Antique Collectors in the Suburban Hinterland of Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Belgium
Ulrike Müller and Ilja Van Damme
5. The Art of Living in the Australian Suburb: Creative and Cultural Production at Home in Suburban Melbourne, 1910s–1960s
6. Ideal Homes and Haunted Houses: Twenty-First-Century Irish Suburban Art and Writing
Part III: The Suburban Creative Milieu
7. Halfway between Nature and Culture: Uccle Centre d’Art, a Colony of Artists in Brussels’s Suburbs in the Interwar Period
8. Exploring Creativity in Dublin’s Suburbs, 1900–2000: Insider, Outsider, Bourgeois, or Bohemian?
9. Recreating Locality: Community and Identity in Budapest Suburbs, 1995–2020
János B. Kocsis
10. Creativity in Contemporary Housing Estate Neighbourhoods: The Case of Kontula, Helsinki
11. The Fung Bros Rep the Ethnoburb
12. Grounding Suburban LGBTQ+ Vernacular Creativities in the Toronto City-Region
Alison L. Bain
Part IV: Creating Suburbia
13. From Artistry to Agency? Transactional Architecture for the Creative Fashioning of the Antwerp Suburbs in the Early Twentieth Century
Tom Broes and Michiel Dehaene
14. Creating Suburbs in North America: A Mutual Blind Spot
"This marvellous collection not only explodes the myth of suburban conformity but also makes us question what creativity means in the context of the ‘creative city.’ It is required reading for anyone interested in the past and future of the modern city."Simon Gunn, Emeritus Professor of Urban History, University of Leicester
"This collection effectively challenges assumptions underpinning the denigration of suburbs as cultural wastelands. Spacious, affordable, connected, and closer to nature, the suburbs of Antwerp, Brussels, Helsinki, Dublin, Budapest, London, Melbourne, Los Angeles, and Toronto offer grounded examples of home-based decoration, artistic activity, collecting, and innovative digital, architectural, and garden design. Detailing the suburban milieux of different times and places moves them from ‘nowheres’ to somewheres of creative endeavour."Louise Johnson, Honorary Professor, Deakin University and University of Melbourne, and author of Cultural Capitals: Revaluing the Arts, Remaking Urban Spaces