“Tenants shall be as free as possible to order their lives in their own way, so that they may pursue their originality…” LCC Becontree Estate Tenants’ Handbook, 1921
In August 2016, Create worked with architects Apparata to transform The White House, a derelict 18th century farmhouse on Dagenham’s Becontree Estate, into a new public space for art and social activity. The White House invites artists to live at the house, to make new art and join people living locally to create the vision for this new public building.
Since opening it has been home to four artists and hosted a range of workshops, talks, dinners and events – so far resulting in a socialist pantomime and a mockumentary film.
Current artists are Christina Ford and Ève Chabanon whose residencies have responded to the experiences of people living in Barking & Dagenham, with a particular focus on women’s lives in the borough. In addition to their respective performances created on residency Christina and Ève have also begun to work together during their time in the house. They are currently in the research and planning stages of setting up a new social enterprise inspired by Ève’s initial project proposal to work with teenage girls and young women to create a nail bar / hack space. The shop will be a safe space for young women to train and spend time in, responding to the social space of beauty salons and the limited access young women have to tech. More information coming soon.
Alongside the artist residencies, the House hosts a Front Room Programme which includes coffee mornings, arts and craft groups facilitated by local people, poetry classes and film screenings. The Front Room Programme has been designed with the people that come to the house, and is often a legacy of the artists’ projects and their own interests. Chad McCail formed All Hands On Deck for the prop- and set-builders for his pantomime and they continue to meet weekly, and Gingerbread Group Dagenham (for lone parents) has been set up by current resident artist Christina Ford.
Supported by London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Heritage Lottery Fund, Genesis Foundation and the Foyle Foundation. Nicholas Lobo Brennan was born in London. He began collaborating with Astrid Smitham in 2011 forming a studio in 2014. Nicholas also founded the collective GRUPPE in Zurich in 2011. He edits the publication Models Ruins Power, founded in Zurich in 2014. He previously worked for Peter Zumthor in Switzerland, Architecture Research Unit in London, and UNA in Sao Paulo. He studied at Chelsea Collage of Arts, Cass Faculty of Architecture and The Royal College of Art. He taught with Tom Emerson at ETH helping establish the Studio Tom Emerson live build projects. He won the Swiss Art Award for Architecture in 2012 and with his collective he was 2013 finalist for the Debut Award at the Lisbon Triennale, and nominated for this years Iakov Chernikov prize. Astrid Smitham was born in Manchester. She studied Fine Art in the UK and Architecture at TU Berlin and ETH Zurich. She practised as a painter and screenwriter in Berlin. In 2015 she completed the construction of a house for an actor in Valais, Switzerland.