The White House is a public space for art and social activity on the Becontree Estate in Dagenham, a project of Create London. Artists are invited to live and work in the house, exploring new ways to collaborate with the local community, by becoming their neighbours.
As Assistant Curator, I supported a range of projects including their Becontree Forever and New Town Culture commissions ~ celebrating 100 years of the UK’s largest council estate, and connecting leading artists with young people in care.
New Town Culture (2020-21)
New Town Culture is a programme supporting artists to collaborate with young people accessing social care services, part of a pioneering project by London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
I led on the delivery of artist projects and commissions: A Place With A Heart: A Place To Grow by Elsa James; Assembly Mixtape Club by Joe Namy; New Town Voices by Belinda Zhawi; Lyric Cacophony by Emma Smith; Jam the House by Aislinn Evans; Creative Resilience by Blak Outside.
Through these projects, I worked with foster carers and looked after children, asylum~seeking minors, young adults transitioning out of care, as well as social workers and local council services. I facilitated creative activities ranging from poetry and zine~making, gardening and cooking, DJing and podcasting, DIY video gaming and exploring local archives.
New Town Voices
New Town Voices was a project I facilitated from conception to completion, with poet Belinda Zhawi. A series of writing workshops for care~experienced young women, Zhawi hosted a creative space to reflect on personal experiences and imagine alternative futures.
Developed through these sessions, I curated Zhawi's New Town Voices Toolkit, a resource for social workers, co~authored by participants and printed with local Rabbits Road Press.
Becontree Forever (2021)
Becontree Forever was a programme marking the centenary of the Becontree Estate, home of the White House and once the largest social housing estate in the world.
I designed and delivered the community consultation for a series of new Becontree Plaques by artist Leonor Antunes. This included an extensive estate~wide nominations process, seeking out a diverse range of residents that played an important role within their communities, in addition to more well~known figures from the area. The process empowered local people to choose who was commemorated, amplifying discussions around who is missing from formal archive records, whose histories we remember, and who gets to decide.
I worked with artist Sadia Ur~Rehman to conceive BeconTea, her project co~creating a new celebratory tea~blend with local residents, and Elsa James, on her Love Becontree Parade with local foster families, reimagining local histories inspired by Becontree archive photos.
Social Art at Social Distance
Throughout the Covid~19 pandemic, I supported the Curator to reconceptualise the role of the White House, re~shaping our programming into new forms of ‘social art at social distance’. I led on a range of Covid~responsive workshops, adapting projects for remote, digital or socially~distanced delivery, allowing us to maintain and nurture connections responsibly. This included Front Room to Front Room, a take on our Front Room Programme providing resources for those isolating at home, and a series of online, postal and outdoor activities for our after~school family clubs.