25 Parliament Street – A Very Sick Building

From artist Will Curwen. This is also on the Independents Biennial Forum

Dear Reader

I am one of the artists who exhibited work in the MuseumMan show at 25 Parliament Street (aka – The Buddleia Building). The space we were allocated was essentially derelict before the keys were handed over to Adam Nankervis and Simon Bendi who did a sterling job of making a temporary exhibition space for our show.

Unfortunately, the 25 Parliament Street roof space area was/is a pigeon graveyard, and over the years it appears that the dust from pigeon droppings, and the faeces left by mites that feed upon flakes of pigeon skin – has infiltrated the entire building. Even though walls were given a rough coat of emulsion paint, there was a tremendous amount of dust and dirt thrown up by frantic activity to get the exhibition space up and running.

Sanitation was/is appalling with the whole building infested with flies – everywhere was flyblown. The building is a former warehouse and nobody seems to know with any real certainty what was originally stored in it.

Everyone I spoke to who spent any amount of time in the building all complained of either feeling under parr or quite ill. As an exhibiting artist, I would visit twice a week for two or three hours at a time for what turned to be nearly twelve weeks. That is approximately seventy hours of progressive exposure to a very sick building. Every visit made me feel ill afterwards. As a borderline asthmatic, this has eventually triggered fullblown asthma, and my health over the last four months has not been good.

My medical symptoms are:- a persistent dry hacking cough that convulses the whole body, breathlessness, nightsweats, physical lethargy and a lack of concentration. These symptoms are consistent with a known condition called ‘Pigeon Lung’. I am now on a course of very strong antihistamines and will have to use an asthmatic inhaler for at least another month. Thankfully, I am making a slow but consistent recovery.

By rights, all the walls, floors and ceilings of the building should have been sprayed with clear varnish to seal this disgusting muck in BEFORE the keys were handed over. This never happened, and I for for one are suffering
the consequences. This is an appalling lack of consideration for basic health and safety. The contrast between Greenland Street over the road, with its immaculately constructed and spotlessly clean toilets, could not have
been greater.

If anyone involved with 25 Parliament Street is reading this and are still experiencing any breathing difficulties, then I strongly advise you to go and see your doctor immediately.


William Curwen