The best laid schemes, as Robert Burns once said, often go askew and in her exhibition Britannia 2013-1981, Dalston artist Laura Oldfield Ford, looks at how the highly structured environment of a new town adapts to the people that inhabit that space over time. So that however complete the infrastructure of the built environment, however rigid the plans, it is human nature to change, adapt and bend them to our will.

After dong her BA at Slade Art School, Laura went on to do her masters at The Royal College of Art, graduating in 2007.

Originally from Halifax, she has spent the past 15 years living in the area around the Lower Lea Valley.

“This project was generated by walks around London, creating emotional maps of the areas I have engagement with. This is central to my practise as an artist. I began by chronicling a disappearing London, a lot of which has been completely erased for the 2012 Olympics.”

Through the course of her work, Laura has extended outward from the East End to the new towns of Harlow, Hatfield and Stevenage, all designed spaces from the post-war era, to rehouse people displaced by the Blitz or through the slum clearance programme - a process which Laura calls “slightly suspect social cleansing.”

Using the urban riots of 1981 as a springboard, Laura creates a social map of each area by walking around and observing, taking pictures and then drawing what she sees to provide a mental as well as a physical impression of a community.

“I’m interested in new towns on so many levels. Social, political and architectural, especially nomadic architecture, traveller sites and other ad hoc additions that get tacked on to the highly planned grid of a town.”

Arranged in panels like window panes, Laura’s pen and ink and pencil sketches trace the forgotten areas of these concrete conurbations. A caravan on a piece of wasteland, a boarded up prefab pub ironically called called The Sun In Splendour, a deserted drive-thru fast food forecourt, a gang raining blows on a kid on the street, Laura picks out these desolate images and daubs them with day-glo grafitti, slogans such as No War But Class War or illuminates them against the acrid glow of street lights - these the only colourful elements in her vision of the post-industrial landscape.

It’s a grim legacy but Laura at once feels the need to catalogue these last outposts on the fringes of the British townscape before they are bulldozed into extinction and to make a statement against the rampant march of redevelopment.

“It’s a way to consider what the future of a city might be away from the endless neo-liberal luxury apartments and shopping malls for the rich while the poor are in displacement. The new towns represented a scheme for mass council housing and it should be happening now but it isn’t. Capitalism has been this way for the past ten years and it can’t go on indefinitely."

Britannia 2013-1981, runs from Friday to end January 2010 at the Art and Design Gallery, Hatfield. Details: