But is it smart?

Has Greater Brockley reached Peak Iconic Cat?

Demonstrating that there is life in the old media dog yet, The Guardian, The Standard and ITV News have all uncovered a hidden meaning in the sand cat sculpture that appeared this weekend on Coulgate Street. While we were all purring over the cat's artisanal curves, its creator, Zara Gaze, was making a point about gentrification consuming SE4. The Guardian reports:

Gaze, 38 and a single mother of one, used a spade and plasterer’s trowels to shape 40 tonnes of sand into a “fat cat” eating broccoli as a gesture of protest at soaring rents and the lack of affordable housing.

“The place used to be an old garage and somebody had daubed graffiti – ‘enjoy your quinoa’,” Gaze told the Guardian. “I think it’s going to become flats that cost a ridiculous amount of money. I was on my way to a friend’s house and thought it too good an opportunity to miss.”

After seeing the pile of sand on Saturday afternoon, Gaze returned to work on it from 10.30pm that night until 3.30am, when a foreman and security guard turned up. Questioned, Gaze said she had merely rearranged the sand that was already there. They let her take photos of her guerrilla art before she “toddled off” into the night.

“It was great vibes, people were coming out of the pub offering me rollies. They really did get it. It’s a stupid pun,” said Gaze who moved to the area about 15 years ago.

There are two points to be made:

Firstly, never underestimate the importance of "stupid puns". The media and PR industry that employs half the Greater Brockley population is at least 90% pun-based.

Secondly, if we must keep using the term gentrification to describe what is happening in Brockley, then at some point we need to define terms.

There are plenty of people, for example, who would consider artists as being at the vanguard of gentrification, and pop-up street art as being a contemptible obsession of the bourgeois. Simultaneously, there are people (artists, mostly), who think that artists departing an area is the unacceptable face of gentrification.

Name anything ever done by people and I will tell you how it's gentrification.

People offering you rollies? Students and hipsters. Gentrification.
People not offering you rollies? Nutribullet-obsessive health freaks. Gentrification.
Houses turned into flats? DINKIES and young professionals. Gentrification.
Flats being turned into houses. Yummy mummies and their nauseating offspring. Gentrification.
Supermarket replacing independent shops? Big business takeover. Gentrification.
Independent shops replacing supermarket? Quinoa-pushing vanity projects. Gentrification.

And so on.

The term gentrification has lost all coherence. Its only meaning is as code for "change brought about by people who are uncomfortably like me, with minor variations in tastes and preferences." The narcissism of small differences at best. Bigotry at worst.

It was a beautiful cat though.

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