Charlotte C Mortensson

"Since 2006 I have been documenting the improvised architecture of Trench Town, Kingston, Jamaica. My work explores how artistry and strength is expressed in people’s self-constructed homes, and in the protective barriers within and surrounding communities.


Built in the 1940s by the then colonial government’s Central Housing Authority, Trench Town’s population has continued to grow and people have extended and adapted their houses into the shared courtyards and out into the streets, mainly using recycled materials. Communal kitchens have been converted into small homes, and many streets are now so narrow that only one person at a time can pass.


These adapted structures do not only shelter families, they are designed as protection for the community during times of sporadic political violence. Severe financial constraints dictate much of the building work and the materials used in Trench Town, but the creativity and ingenuity of the people who live there mean that many homes have become ever-evolving works in art in their own right.


Crosses, as in the selected image, Natural, are often painted on homes as a protective symbol and an expression of faith, as are Rastafarian symbols."