The People vs The Octopus

Satirical street games, installations and interruptions designed to galvanise debate about the housing sector. 

This is a new project in development. We have been experimenting with ideas this year, supported by Blueprint: Without Walls R&D Investment Fund and Pervasive Media Studio


In his 1928 book, England and the Octopus, Clough Williams-Ellis frames The Octopus as the encroaching arms of market forced building.

The book inspired Ferguson’s Gang, a group of young women who created a theatrical gang and vowed to ‘destroy the Octopus’. Giving themselves alter ego’s- Red Biddy, Bill Stickers and The Artichoke, they bought properties and significantly raised the profile fo the National Trust. Dubbed “benevolent Gangsters’ they ambushed the National Trust HQ wearing masks and cloaks with silver pineapples full of money.

We, in turn were inspired by Ferguson’s Gang- their passion, their eccentricity and the playfulness of their campaigning.

In the People vs the Octopus, we are reinventing Fergusons Gang  within our 21st Century housing crisis. Our gang will be made up of performers, artists and residents of each community we tour to. Each set of games will be site specific, – the pieces being adapted and tailored to the issues in each locality. We want to work with local authorise and residents groups to galvanise conversations about the issues they are living with on a daily basis. Participation is offered on a sliding scale, from interviews and research trips, to workshops, to a full scale creation period in each place. 

You can read more about the development of this project here.

The R&D for Ferguson’s Gang vs The Octopus is supported by Pervasive Media Studio and Blueprint: Without Walls R&D Investment Fund. Without Walls is the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor arts shows, taking inspiring new work to audiences all over the country and beyond. For more information on the work of Without Walls, please visit


We thought it might be useful to list links to campaign and support groups. This is the beginning of a long list of groups working to support housing and conservation rights. Please add in the comments box below.