Emerging filmmakers Aislinn Evans and Jacob Schwar selected for two new moving-image commissions as part of ‘Breaking Waves’ programme

Tuesday, 31 October 2023

We are delighted to announce two new moving-image commissions by emerging filmmakers Aislinn Evans and Jacob Schwar

The new films form part of our Breaking Waves programme, supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, which explores the connection between the contemporary climate crisis and industrial heritage in Barking Riverside, East London. The new moving image works will delve into the area’s history and heritage.

Selected following an open call for early-career filmmakers with connections to Barking & Dagenham, Evans and Schwar have received a £5,000 commissioning fee to create a 5-minute film. As part of the process, they will also benefit from mentorship from film industry experts including BAFTA nominated director Shannon Murphy and writer and director for BBC Wales and Radio 4 Darragh Mortell. The works will be publicly presented at Eastbury Manor House from 4 November to 17 December 2023.

Aislinn Evans is a site-responsive artist looking at the urban and industrial sites they call home. “I grew up in the unclaimed ground between London and Essex, the A13 and the Estuary have led me to the sites that ground me; an estate in Poplar, a flyover in Rainham, barges on the Thames” they said. “Applying a queer phenomenology of the landscape, I peel back space; occupied, classed, cut up. Drawing from DIY and revolutionary film practices, my interactions with space span filmmaking, sonic intervention and writing. In my practice, the periphery takes centre stage.”

Jacob Schwar currently works as a freelancer in the Television and Film industries. He recently produced a short film exploring gentrification in East London, which went on to feature in Romford Film Festival 2022. “I like to explore themes relating to the human condition, changes in a community such as gentrification, cultural traditions and most importantly working-class heritage” he said. Schwar’s most recent work was included within a short documentary film series titled We All Belong which he helped to produce for Barking and Dagenham Council.

A House for Artists wins the Neave Brown Award 2023

Thursday, 19 October 2023

We are delighted to announce that Apparata has won the Neave Brown Award 2023 for A House for Artists. Named in honour of modernist architect Neave Brown (1929 – 2018), the award recognises the best new examples of affordable housing in the UK.

Image credit: Johan Dehlin.

Director of Create London, Marie Bak Mortensen, said:

Huge congratulations to Apparata for their Neave Brown Award 2023 win. ‘A House for Artists’ marks the third collaboration between Apparata and Create London. We are so pleased – but not surprised – that the outstanding design ingenuity of Apparata, their pragmatism and unwavering commitment to resolve urgent civic and cultural challenges are being recognised. Awarding the Neave Brown Award to an emerging practice shows immense hope for the future of British architecture. We know that great things lie ahead for Apparata while both the artist residents and the community of Barking & Dagenham will benefit from this unique project for decades to come.

The award was announced at RIBA’s Stirling Prize ceremony on Thursday 19 October 2023. 

Congratulations too to the impressive shortlist;

  • Agar Grove Phase 1b by Mæ
  • New Lodge Community by PRP
  • Taylor & Chatto Courts and Wilmott Court, Frampton Park Estate by Henley Halebrown

A House for Artists was co-commissioned by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) and Create London; delivered by BeFirst and supported by the Mayor of London. The public programme is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Rayne Foundation.

You can find out more about the rolling programme of activities at A House for Artists here

A House For Artists shortlisted for 2023 RIBA Stirling Prize

Thursday, 07 September 2023

The courtyard of A House for Artists in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Photo credit: Gili Merin. 

We are thrilled to share that A House for Artists is one of six buildings shortlisted for the 2023 RIBA Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture award.

This year’s Stirling Prize jury says:

Following a six-year effort by arts organisation Create London, the result is a flexible live-work space for 12 artists arranged across five floors. This is a thoughtful and assured piece of architecture that has been delivered with rigour and precision.

Designed by architectural studio APPARATA, A House for Artists is also nominated for the Neave Brown Award for affordable housing and the Stephen Lawrence Prize, which celebrates new talent by recognising projects led by early career architects.

A House for Artists has been shortlisted alongside projects by Adam Khan Architects, Witherford Watson Mann architects, Mæ, Sergison Bates Architects and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

The winner of the 2023 RIBA Stirling Prize and special awards will be announced live at the ceremony on Thursday 19 October 2023 at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. 

Marie Bak Mortensen, Director of Create London says:

We are delighted and honoured that A House for Artists has been shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. As the country grapples with the housing crisis and lack of support for the arts, we are proud that A House for Artist, designed with purpose and ingenuity by Apparata, is being recognised as an innovative model to address these important issues with the highest architectural quality. 

A House for Artists is an ambitious model for affordable and sustainable housing tied to long-term public engagement in Barking Town Centre. Commissioned by Create London, the project is funded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and the Mayor of London, and delivered by BeFirst (working on behalf of LBBD). The public programme is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Rayne Foundation.

Summer programme at The Living Room, A House for Artists

Wednesday, 09 August 2023

Photography: Julia Forsman.

We are thrilled to announce a series of free creative events taking place at The Living Room at A House for Artists; a dedicated space for public programming. Over the coming weeks, the fourteen artist residents will deliver a varied programme which has been shaped in dialogue with the local community.

The line-up includes drawing and painting classes, photography and sound workshops, knitting circles, parent and toddler groups, holiday art clubs and more. Find out full details of the series here

The programme is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Rayne Foundation. A House for Artists was co-commissioned by Create London and London Borough of Barking & Dagenham.

Create London announces a new moving-image commission titled ‘Flood Barrier’ by Turner Prize-nominee Catherine Yass, alongside a wider public programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Tuesday, 18 July 2023

Create London is pleased to announce Flood Barrier, a new moving image commission by British artist Catherine Yass (b. 1963) that will premiere at a free outdoor screening at Valence House Museum in Valence Park, Dagenham on Friday 22 September, followed by special screening events at the ICA on Tuesday 14 November and at Turner Contemporary on Saturday 18 November 2023. The film will be installed as part of The Princess Alice Disaster exhibition at Valence House Museum from 26 September – 21 October 2023, before touring to Eastbury Manor House, Barking in October 2023. Raising awareness of rising sea levels and urgent environmental changes, the work’s launch will coincide with the 70th anniversary of The Great Flood of 1953.

Preliminary image for Flood Barrier by Catherine Yass. Image courtesy of the artist.

The film will be centred around Barking Creek Flood Barrier, which straddles the River Roding where its estuary meets the River Thames. Engineered in 1983, the barrier was originally built to prevent devastating flooding expected to take place every thousand years. However, in the wake of rising sea levels and urgent environmental changes affecting East London, the barrier has taken on a new critical role. The huge guillotine-like structure poised above the water is likely to come down and cut off flooding routinely in coming years, as predicted in a recent environmental study by Climate Central (2021). The barrier stands in place of Creekmouth village, which suffered severe flood damage 70 years ago, erasing 55 Victorian houses, a school and a church built for chemical plant workers. 

Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002, London-based artist Yass is widely recognised for her distinctive photographic and film-based work. Her practice disrupts notions of power through the disorientation of the camera and the distortion of colour. With Flood Barrier Yass will use this visual language to allow viewers to see the structure and its surroundings from a new perspective, showing the urgency of the environmental and political issues it embodies. The artist’s films are frequently turned upside down or filmed from unusual perspectives, often from a camera mounted on the moving objects they depict. As the image begins to unravel so too do our assumptions about how we perceive the world, and new orientations and possibilities open.

Where Yass’ past work has been concerned with how environments are constructed and experienced by their inhabitants, this new moving image work will extend her practice by zooming in on the relationship between architecture and the natural world. Observing the bird paths around the barrier, Yass will document the interaction and relationship between the architecture and the birds. This will involve close-up filming of birds in flight, as well as filming from a drone to imitate their perspective, tracking their flight paths in lyrical movements which contrast with the steady vertical motion of the flood barrier. 

The footage of the birds will be coloured to reflect the fact that birds have one more colour-sensing cone than humans that recognises ultraviolet light. This will contrast with the monochrome severity of the concrete flood barrier going down, to reveal the limitations of vision, and that what humans see is only one possible vision amongst many others. The work seeks to challenge normative and anthropomorphic viewpoints, acknowledging that animals and humans all perceive colour in a wide range of ways. The colours will be achieved by letting light leak into the camera, making a further analogy with flooding. The film will be co-produced with Barking & Dagenham students with special educational needs, ensuring that those living close to the barrier are given a voice by the project.

A season of public events and activities supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund

2023 marks 70 years since the Great Flood of 1953, which led to widespread flooding in the East of England and is often considered the worst natural disaster Britain experienced during the 20th century. Flood Barrier by Catherine Yass forms part of a broader season of programming, entitled Breaking Waves, exploring and raising awareness of the link between our contemporary climate crisis and industrial heritage. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and curated and delivered by Create London, the programme will include commissioning opportunities for local filmmakers, after-school workshops and masterclasses, open air painting classes, bird watching and mudlarking sessions with the local community and more. In addition, disappearing histories of life in Thames Ward will be documented with oral histories experts, residents and creative practitioners, giving a voice to those traditionally excluded from historical records. Full details of the programme and how to get involved will be announced in the coming months.

Flood Barrier by Catherine Yass was commissioned by Create London, funded by Art Fund and Arts Council England, with additional support from The Elephant Trust.The associated engagement programme, Breaking Waves, was made possible with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional support from Arts Council England and Art Fund.

Create London announces two new projects across the Becontree Estate in Dagenham

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

Create London is delighted to launch two new projects for the Becontree Estate: a public square by nimtim architects, co-commissioned with RIBA, and a set of sculptural street furniture by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison, produced and curated by Create London. Both projects are supported by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and provide valuable spaces for the local community.

Marie Bak Mortensen, Director at Create London said, “We are thrilled to have commissioned these new public spaces for the Becontree Estate, which build on our ambitious programme of artist and architecture-led projects for the 2021 centenary celebrations. These architectural interventions make visible the council’s commitment to supporting its local community while continuing Create London’s mission to develop generous and bold infrastructure that responds to civic needs, local contexts and environmental concerns.”

A new public square by nimtim architects. Photography: Thierry Bal.

A new public square by nimtim architects

nimtim architects with artist Katie Schwab have reimagined four of Becontree’s existing corner plots, as a new public square for the community to meet, rest, play and grow. “Squaring the Corners” has been inspired by the geometries, colours and materials that already exist within the estate. The new square encourages residents to take ownership of these previously overlooked spaces and reframes them as spaces of exploration, growth and interaction. The square is the first space of its kind on the Becontree Estate, creating a part-wild, intimate public space; much smaller in scale than the large municipal parks and more social and public than the adjacent front gardens. The design includes re-wilded spaces where the intention is for the historic natural landscape to begin to emerge. The architects used as many found materials as possible, with some of the stones sourced from waste from the SuperSewer project, crankshafts donated from the former Ford factories to retain features of our industrial heritage and logs from felled trees on the estate following storm Eugene.

The designs were developed with local residents via onsite engagement days and workshops with children and young adults. These workshop  directly informed the proposals, for example, residents were keen to move away from formal play features which led to more informal, naturalistic features that children could engage with. The design also includes traffic calming measures in response to residents seeking a more restful and safer environment.

The installations on the site take inspiration from colours and forms found on the estate. “The rose trellis plays on the form of the ‘bow top’ fences found surrounding many of the corner plots on the estate” says Tim O’Callaghan, director and co-founder of nimtim architects. “The blue colour is part of a palette we developed for the project which used colours found on adapted homes throughout Becontree”.

The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham will use the project as a pilot for potential projects in the future.

 Heather Peak & Ivan Morison’s sculptural street furniture. Photography: Thierry Bal.

Sculptural street furniture by Heather Peak and Ivan Morison

Launching around the Becontree Estate in Dagenham is a series of new artworks, collectively titled “Two Cannibals Eating a Clown”, by British artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison.

The artworks are intended to celebrate and encourage a diversity of social behaviour and to create more welcoming spaces for people to rest. The furniture is installed across six locations on the Becontree Estate selected by the council and local residents. The pieces create new areas of habitable public space in previously overlooked or transitionary zones, offering places to sit and gather.

The furniture includes tables, benches and stools; they use the same palette of materials and a shared vocabulary of basic forms – the cone, the cylinder and the slab. “We were looking to make new spaces of subtle connection out of previously overlooked sites.” says artist Ivan Morison. “We wanted to create sculptural forms that also offer rest and contemplation. The forms are as simple as children’s wooden play blocks. We stack a cylinder on a cone and call it a table. We put a flat slab on a smaller slab and call it a bench. We put little hemispheres on top of these forms and call them coconuts. The title is the first line of a Tommy Cooper joke, it continues… ‘One turns to the other and asks, “Does this taste funny to you?”’ It’s an absurd joke, dark and funny. Is there a direct connection between this title, this work, and this place? I think there is, but it is mysterious.”

Heather Peak and Ivan Morison’s sculptural street furniture has been produced and curated by Create London, working with and supported by the London Borough and Barking and Dagenham.

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said: “It’s fantastic to see these projects come to life and it just goes to show how art can truly uplift and bring a new dynamic to some of the oldest corners of our borough.  “As the Becontree Centenary programme draws to a close, there’s still lots of exciting things to come as part of the council’s wider work around preserving and maintaining the estate for generations to come.”

These commissions form part of Create London’s ongoing programme of art, architecture and infrastructure celebrating the Becontree Estate and the diverse histories and lives of its residents. Each of the community centred infrastructure projects seek to enrich the local area and give positive value to behaviour in public spaces, supported by, and in partnership with, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Other projects in this series are the playgrounds The Flamboyance of Flamingos by Yinka Ilori and Parsloes Memphis by Eva Rothschild and commemorative plaques celebrating local heroes nominated by residents, by Leonor Antunes and A Practice for Everyday Life.

‘Squaring the Corners’ was co-commissioned by Create London and RIBA, working with and supported by the London Borough and Barking and Dagenham. ‘Two Cannibals Eating a Clown’ by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison was produced and curated by Create London, working with and supported by the London Borough and Barking and Dagenham.  

Create London Announces Kerry Bishop as Chair of the Board of Trustees

Monday, 03 July 2023

Image credit: Mariola Zoladz

Create London is delighted to announce the appointment of Kerry Bishop as Chair of the Board of Trustees. 

Bishop joins Create London at an important moment, following the completion of a series of acclaimed projects including the RIBA Award-winning A House for Artists by Apparata, new playgrounds with Eva Rothschild and Yinka Ilori and the Hackney Windrush commissions by Turner Prize-winner Veronica Ryan OBE and Thomas J Price. 

Bishop has two decades of creative leadership experience at the intersection of art, design and architecture. She is the Founder and Director of Know Your Place, a business consultancy established in 2022 that helps creative organisations evolve, improve and change. 

From 2019-2022 Bishop served as Managing Director and then Executive Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), leading the organisation through the COVID-19 crisis. 

Her time at the ICA followed six years as Chief Operating Officer at Frieze from 2013-2019. She oversaw all of the organisation’s activities, including the expansion into Los Angeles and Frieze Magazine’s shift to digital publishing with 

Before Frieze, Bishop held leadership positions within architectural studios for over a decade.

Bishop is an advisor to the Black British Initiative, which champions social mobility through progressive and ethical entrepreneurialism. She previously served five years as a Board Trustee for Peckham Platform, a creative and educational charity. 

Bishop’s own experience makes her a passionate advocate for Create London’s mission to commission bold and socially engaged art and architecture woven into the fabric of everyday life in areas with little cultural infrastructure.

Bishop will take up her new role immediately, chairing Create London’s Board of Trustees which comprises Councillor Saima Ashraf, Vivian Chan, Dr Rohit K Dasgupta FHEA, Councillor Rosalind Doré, Ilona Harris, Councillor Christopher Kennedy, Sarah Mann, Caroline McGinn, Claude Moraes OBE, Leslie Morphy OBE, Sannan Pervaiz and Carey Robinson.

Kerry Bishop says: 

“I’m delighted and honoured to join Create London as its Chair. Over the last 12 years, this extraordinary organisation has shown that art and culture can have a sustained and transformative impact, from award-winning projects to grass-roots level programming, commissioned and created in and with communities across East London. I look forward to supporting Marie Bak Mortensen, Sorrel Hershberg and the team as they – and we – build on Create London’s unique role at the forefront of commissioning new public work in our city”.

Marie Bak Mortensen, Director of Create London says:

“We are thrilled to welcome Kerry Bishop as our new Chair. We are at a pivotal moment as we embark on an ambitious five-year plan to evolve our creative programmes and deepen our engagement with communities in East London. Bishop brings a wealth of experience, natural leadership and an abundance of energy to the role, and we cannot wait to draw on her expertise to realise these ambitions. On behalf of the board and team, I also want to give thanks to Guy Nicholson for stepping in as Interim Chair while we recruited for the next chapter of Create London’s governance”. 

A House for Artists wins the 2023 London RIBA Award and Client of the Year

Friday, 12 May 2023

Image credit: Gili Merin

A House for Artists has won the 2023 London RIBA Award. Competing in a strong field of ninety-two shortlisted projects, Create London, alongside London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, were also recognised by receiving the Client of the Year Award, a special award that acknowledges the key role a good client plays in the commissioning and championing of outstanding architecture.

Designed by architectural studio APPARATA, A House for Artists is an ambitious model for affordable and sustainable housing tied to long-term public engagement in Barking Town Centre. The first of its kind in the UK, it provides flexible living and work space for fourteen artists and their families. In return for reduced rent, the artists have been delivering free creative programmes for the neighbourhood in the ground floor community hall, shaped in dialogue with the community.

Co-commissioned by Create London, A House for Artists was funded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and the Mayor of London, and delivered by BeFirst (working on behalf of LBBD). The public programme is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Rayne Foundation.

We are honoured that APPARATA, Create London and Barking & Dagenham Council were awarded such prestigious awards, highlighting how important it is – now more than ever – to provide affordable housing to artists while ensuring that local communities feel connected and inspired through arts participation. We hope that this project will be a replicable model for many other artists’ housing initiatives in the UK and beyond.

We are grateful to the 14 resident artists for their contribution and enthusiasm over the last year and to our funders and collaborators for making this ambitious project happen.

Veronica Ryan wins the 2022 Turner Prize

Monday, 12 December 2022

Veronica Ryan with her Hackney Windrush Art Commission, London, June 2022, photographed for Tate Etc. by Holly Falconer © Holly Falconer. With thanks to Labyrinth Photographic, London.

It is with pride and pleasure that we congratulate Veronica Ryan for winning the 2022 Turner Prize in recognition of her highly acclaimed Hackney Windrush Art Commission, co-commissioned by Create London and Hackney Council, and her solo exhibition ‘Along a Spectrum’ at Spike Island in Bristol.

For the Hackney Windrush Art Commission, Ryan adopted a deeply personal and original approach to a public artwork that commemorates and celebrates the contributions of Windrush Generations in the UK. Drawing from her memories of shopping at Ridley Road market as a child, we unveiled the marble and bronze three fruits sculptures Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit (Moraceae) and Soursop (Annonaceae) in October 2021.

Tate Britain Director and co-chair of the Turner Prize jury, Alex Faquharson, said that alongside her installation at Tate Liverpool, Ryan “has been judged on her sculptures in east London – the first ever to honour the Windrush generation. They alone make her a worthy winner.”

The prize marks the end of a successful year for Ryan following her recent win of the PSSA Marsh Awards for Public Sculpture. Ryan was nominated for the Turner Prize alongside Heather Phillipson, Ingrid Pollard and Sin Wai Kin, and the exhibition will continue at Tate Liverpool until 19 March 2023.

The permanent Hackney Windrush sculpture can be viewed at Narrow Way in Hackney. Please find out more here.  

Coming soon: A new permanent public sculpture by Grayson Perry

Thursday, 10 November 2022

The courtyard of A House for Artists in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, where the sculpture will be situated. Photo credit: Gili Merin. 

Join us for a special event to welcome Grayson Perry’s new lamp outside A House for Artists on Wednesday 30 November, 4-6pm. Please visit Eventbrite for tickets.

Launching on Wednesday 30 November 2022, Create London is proud to present a permanent public sculpture by Grayson Perry. Titled Inspiration Lives Here, the work will sit in the central courtyard of A House for Artists, in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. The new commission will be a two-metre wide lamp, which will act as a beacon to welcome visitors. 

Situated within a diverse, mixed-use quarter in Barking town centre, A House for Artists was launched in December 2021. It was designed to provide sustainable and affordable housing and workspaces for 12 artists and their families. Central to the project is for the resident artists to deliver free, creative activities to the public in the ground floor community space and the shared working yard, which can also be opened for public use.

Contemporary artist, writer and commentator Grayson Perry has been an ambassador for A House for Artists since its inception. Affordable housing for artists has always been a concern for Perry, particularly if it combines art, creativity and living. Inspiration Lives Here will be in the form of a row of semi-detached houses and takes the Becontree Estate in Dagenham as its point of departure. Becontree is the UK’s largest housing estate and was constructed between 1921 and 1935, during the mid-war housing crisis. It is a cottage estate – a type of social housing with roots in the Arts & Crafts tradition.

About the commission, Grayson Perry said “This lamp is a small monument to social housing. I spent half of my childhood living in such a house and most of my extended family lived out their lives in a council house. In a time of unaffordable housing here in the UK a council house seems like an unattainable dream. I wanted the lamp to have an air of nostalgia for a time when people tinkered in sheds and kids ran wild, when the Becontree Estate was the home of wartime heroes and Ford workers. The pale green Ford Anglia was my father’s first car.”

A nod to the history of car producing in Dagenham, Perry’s lamp is complete with a Ford car and transit van parked outside, with light spilling out through the house and vehicle windows. The design of the sculpture also serves as a reminder of the connection between Barking (where A House for Artists is situated) and Dagenham (former site of the Ford factory). This juxtaposition represents two halves of a borough which has suffered from civic disconnection in its recent past. The sculpture is made of Corten steel designed to weather over time, and hand-painted.

The launch of Inspiration Lives Here will include a special event for local residents and schools to engage with the lamp and marks the beginning of a programme of social and creative activity at A House for Artists, organised by the resident artists. This includes a series of ongoing free, drop-in coffee mornings and workshops.

Inspiration Lives Here by Grayson Perry has been commissioned by Create London and funded by Art Fund. It has been realised in collaboration with the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and the BEC (Barking Enterprise Centre).

Create London awarded Arts Council England National Portfolio funding

Friday, 04 November 2022

We are pleased to announce that Create London has been awarded 2023-26 National Portfolio Funding from Arts Council England.

Funding from Arts Council England makes a significant contribution to our core costs, enabling us to deliver imaginative and thought-provoking commissions and programmes in east London boroughs with low cultural infrastructure. Working closely with underrepresented communities, we are delighted that Art Council England has recognised our track record in and commitment to championing equity and diversity, addressing climate change and demonstrating artistic excellence. 

On the back of recent successful projects – including the Hackney Windrush Art Commissions and a House for Artists – we are now preparing for an ambitious future that continues our mission to bring world-class art and architecture to areas where it is least expected, providing inclusive moments for individuals to expand their imaginations, foster collective action and support thriving communities.

Arts Council England has been one of Create London’s most significant supporters since its establishment in 2012 and, since 2014, included in their National Portfolio. We will be awarded £152,760 per year for three years; this support represents around 10% of our annual income and is a keystone of our operating budget. 

We recognise that this is a challenging time for the sector and that Arts Council England were tasked with making difficult decisions, especially in reducing investment in London. We are especially grateful to Arts Council England for continuing to support Create London’s work and extend our best wishes to our peers waiting for positive outcomes today.

Create London announces the appointment of six new Trustees

Thursday, 25 August 2022

We are immensely proud of the high-quality applications from outstanding individuals we have received through an open call process. Join us in welcoming the newly appointed Trustees who will play a crucial role in shaping the future of Create London and driving our mission forward. 

Sannan Pervaiz

Climate Change & Security Advisor | NATO

About Sannan Pervaiz

Sannan is an experienced policy professional advising NATO on Climate Change & Security challenges impacting the Alliance.  Prior to this, Sannan was based at the Prime Minister’s Office & the Cabinet Office in Whitehall – leading on business engagement strategies and advising Ministers on how to bring government, business and civil society together to address some of the most prominent socio-economic issues impacting the country.

Sannan is passionate about policy, as well as economic and sustainability issues and has further led a flagship careers programme for a New York-based charity in the UK; providing educational support and career access to young people from underserved communities and lower socio-economic families.  

Sannan said:

‘I am excited to join the talented Board at Create London and continue to deliver on the organisation’s mission in connecting closely with our communities through purposeful and ambitious art.’

Sarah Mann

Arts and Culture Manager | HS2

About Sarah Mann

Sarah is an experienced commissioner and curator who specialises in building programmes and partnerships in the arts. She is currently working as part of the HS2 Arts and Culture Team to deliver major public art commissions and participatory programmes alongside the construction of Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

Previously, she was Head of Programmes at the Design Council and the Director of the Architecture, Design Fashion team at the British Council where she was the commissioner for the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and was responsible for the strategy and creative direction of a range of intercultural programmes and showcases. Sarah is also a board member at the University of the Underground and Design Cana campaign to diversify the design industry and is a Fellow of the RSA.

Sarah said:

‘I am really honoured to be joining the team as a Trustee, helping to shape Create’s future at such an exciting time for the organisation.  Create’s work is an exemplar of the positive impact that can be achieved by building partnerships between communities and artists in our towns and cities.’

Vivian Chan

Executive Director, CEO and Co-founder | SPARROW

About Vivian Chan

Currently the Executive Director, CEO & Co-founder of Sparrow (formerly Sparrho), Vivian has been selected and awarded a number of honours including being invited as a Keynote speaker at the Mobile World Congress, featured by The Guardian as one of the top “10 under 35 changing the world”, Top 35 under 35 by MIT Tech Review, invited twice by EU Commission to address ministers on the importance of Open Data for innovation (alongside Bill Gates), was also previously part of the Digital Economy Advisory Group for the UK government.

Vivian completed her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, after spending a year working in a venture fund in Australia. Deep experience in the startup/fundraising/investment world as a CEO, Board Director, founder and advisor for diverse startups.

Vivian said:

‘Very much looking forward to joining the Board at Create to further empower & benefit local communities through innovative art & architecture’

Carey Robinson

Head of Education |

About Carey Robinson

Carey Robinson is Head of Education at the South London Gallery, leading the strategic delivery of an expansive programme of creative learning opportunities for young people, schools and communities across the gallery’s three sites. Previously she has held curatorial and creative producer roles at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Tate, and The Courtauld. She is currently a trustee at A New Direction.

Carey said:

“Create London have long sought to catalyse new and dynamic relationships between artists, people and place in ways that invite us to collectively explore who we are, how we live, and the challenges of our times. Such a collaborative approach enables us to discover the interconnections between us which is very powerful. I’m honoured to be joining the board of trustees at this time.”

Ilona Harris

Head of Commercial |

Ilona has spent the majority of her professional life in the arts and culture sector. She has worked for organisations that have contributed hugely to the cultural landscape in the UK and abroad. She has been responsible for creating partnerships between the corporate and art world which she believes have created not only great art, but added precious value to the communities they serve.

Ilona originally studied Fine Art and French and knew that she wanted to work in the art world but not as a practising artist. When pushed, she told her dad on the eve of graduation that she wanted to be the Director of Tate. She didn’t, but back then jobs in the art world weren’t a known entity. Since then, Ilona has seen first-hand the passion and dedication that abounds in the arts sector, working for English National Opera, The Royal Opera House and Tate.

Currently, she is Head of Commercial for the Weald & Downland Living Museum in West Sussex, an educational charity that represents the history of rural communities of the past 1,000 years with a designated collection of historic buildings and artefacts at its heart.

Ilona lives in Arundel, West Sussex with her husband, Paul, and two small girls, Alba and Ivy.

Ilona said:

‘I’m delighted to be joining the board at Create. Bringing art out into the public space is really exciting and doing so in a way that works with and for communities is even more so. Create is a catalyst for dynamic, original and thought-provoking work and I look forward to playing a part in its future. ‘ 

Councillor Rosalind Doré


Rosalind said:

‘Create London have been at the forefront of some of the most exciting and innovative cultural developments in our Borough. I am very much looking forward to working with the Board to develop new ideas and projects which empower local communities’

Uriel Orlow gives us a glimpse into how Becontree’s Botanical Maps came to be

Thursday, 07 July 2022

During a visit to the National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, Uriel Orlow noticed that all the plants were labelled in English and Latin, even though there are eleven official languages in the country. The episode sparked a reflection and long-term project that sees plants as actors, agents and witnesses in history and politics. Plants have been often thought of as a backdrop, even though they are inextricably entangled with the human experience.

Uriel Orlow, Soil Affinities, Installation View Kunsthalle Mainz (Photo: Norbert Miguletz)

Becontree’s Botanical Maps started as a reflection on the relationship between social diversity and biodiversity, thinking of Becontree Estate being as culturally diverse as its botanical spectrum. Growing spaces have been central to the history of the area. Before Becontree was developed in the 1920s and 30s, most of the land was the market gardens of Dagenham Village. Between parks — which made up 10% of the estate and hundreds of smaller ‘amenity greens’ situated on street corners, you were never more than a short walk from a green space. Public spaces where the flora’s presence is tangible have been at the heart of Orlow’s research. The practical process involved a three-month-long survey with Denis Vickers, an ecologist consultant with extensive knowledge in botany who lives on the Estate. After a long editorial process, a 200-page report was distilled into three accessible maps telling stories of connections and migrations, the fascinating world of healing plants and the cultural significance of wildlife. 

Becontree’s Botanical Map by Uriel Orlow. Designer: In the shade of a tree studio

Orlow defined the making of the maps as a collaborative experience with graphic design studio In The Shade of a Tree. In particular, the layout of ‘Becontree’s Global Garden’ which features the world split into two globes, was heavily influenced by the research into old maps, giving us a glimpse of the evolution of cartography. Whereas the design ‘Becontree’s Plant Powers’ finds its inspiration in graphic representations of acupuncture to find ways to chart plants onto the human body. In fact, many plants growing wild or being cultivated on Becontree Estate are edible, some are said to treat ulcers, aid sleep or could easily form part of your skincare routine.

‘We are living in the middle of a medicine cabinet’


Each map is a cartographic mine of botanical discoveries. You might be surprised to find out that some plants found on Becontree Estate have been in Britain since the end of the last ice age, around 11,000 years ago, and wild daisies were used to heal wounds. Becontree’s plants tell us stories about traditional use: from mattress stuffing and musical instruments to baskets and dyes. Some plants symbolise fidelity or are associated with death, while others protect their neighbours from insects or provide shelter for animals. Looking closely, we can discover many forgotten narratives about human-plant entanglements and collaborations.

Uriel Orlow, The Fairest Heritage, 2016 — 2017

Veronica Ryan nominated for Turner Prize 2022

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Veronica Ryan OBE, ‘Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit (Moraceae), and Soursop (Annonaceae), 2021’ (detail). Courtesy the artist, Paula Cooper Gallery and Alison Jaques Gallery. Photo credit: Wayne Critchlow, 2021. 

We are delighted that Veronica Ryan (OBE) has been nominated for the Turner Prize 2022, in recognition of her exhibition Along a Spectrum at Spike Island and her Hackney Windrush Art Commission.

Ryan is best known for making sculpture that is evocative of objects and forms from the natural world and references themes of trauma, migration and memory. For the Hackney Windrush Art Commission, she created large-scale sculptures of fruits from the Caribbean, drawing on her memories of shopping at Ridley Road market as a child.

Ryan has been nominated alongside Heather Phillipson, Ingrid Pollard and Sin Wai Kin. An exhibition of their work will be held at Tate Liverpool from 20 October 2022 until 19 March 2023. The winner will be announced in December.

Veronica Ryan’s Hackney Windrush Art Commission is supported by Art Fund with additional funding from Alison Jacques Gallery, Paula Cooper Gallery and the Henry Moore Foundation. The public programme is supported by the Freelands Foundation.

Marie Bak Mortensen announced as new Director of Create London

Monday, 15 November 2021

photo: Andy Matthews

We are delighted to welcome Marie Bak Mortensen as our new Director.  Marie joins Create from The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), where she has been Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation for seven years. She brings with her extensive experience of working in the UK architecture and visual art sectors, and a wide network of national and international partners. 

Marie Bak Mortensen said, “I have observed Create London from afar, and worked closely with its fantastic team, always admiring its imaginative programme and unique position across the visual arts and architecture. Building on the legacy of Hadrian Garrard’s work, it is a privilege to join an organisation that continuously pushes the boundaries of institutional structures to deliver incomparable and inclusive connections between communities and artistic practice. “

The Trustees of Create said, “We are very excited that Marie Bak Mortensen is joining Create. She has an impressive track record that brings both great expertise and sensitivity to the context in which we work. We are confident that Marie will help us to continue to secure the role of art and architecture at the centre of community and civic life”.

At RIBA, Marie Bak Mortensen introduced new commissions in parallel to the exhibitions programme. These included Pablo Bronstein’s Conservatism, or the Long Reign of Pseudo Georgian Architecture (2017) and The Brutalist Playground (2015) by Assemble with Simon Terrill, alongside ambitious public realm commissions, such as A Hall for Hull with Chile-based architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Swiss artist Felice Varini (for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 in collaboration with the British Council). 

Under Marie’s stewardship, RIBA attracted younger and more diverse audiences, and she developed partnerships with a broad range of organisations both within and beyond the architectural context. Most recently, she has worked with Create on the Becontree centenary, overseeing Verity-Jane Keefe’s exhibition, Lived in Architecture – Becontree at 100 (2021), co-curated by both organisations.

Prior to joining RIBA, between 2009 and 2014, Marie managed Tate’s partnerships with museums and galleries across the UK, including the development and implementation of the Plus Tate network. Before relocating to the UK, she worked in Copenhagen for the Danish Design Centre and Architects’ Association. She is an alumni of the Clore Leadership programme and a trustee of Spike Island in Bristol.

Marie Bak Mortensen will lead Create’s strategy and programme, and share the Chief Executive role with Executive Director Sorrel Hershberg. She succeeds Create’s founding Director Hadrian Garrard who led the organisation from 2008 and took on a new role at Waltham Forest Council in August.

‘Lived In Architecture: Becontree at 100’

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Now open at RIBA is the exhibition Lived in Architecture: Becontree at 100. Created by artist Verity-Jane Keefe, the exhibition marks the centenary of the Becontree Estate in East London.

Reflecting on the contemporary architectural reality of the estate, once the largest example of social housing in Europe, Keefe has created a new film and a series of spatial and decorative details found in the area, capturing the essence of Becontree and its residents today.

The new artwork by Keefe is presented alongside 33 objects from the RIBA Collections, with the juxtaposition highlighting how adaptions, extensions and home improvements by Becontree residents follow the same trajectory we see throughout history – that architecture is never finished, but ever-evolving and reflective of broader changes in society.

The exhibition runs until 12 February 2022 at RIBA’s London Building (Portland Place) and is free to visit. Lived in Architecture: Becontree at 100 is a co-commission between RIBA and Create and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Living Together, The Becontree Collection Billboards

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Installed in nine locations across Becontree Estate, Verity-Jane Keefe’s public realm exhibition during summer 2021 made visible some of the objects collected as part of her long-term project, Living Together. The work reflected the material of the place including building matter and archival political material.

Millions of bricks beneath every pebbledashed crazy paved or mock Tudor wall 9th August – 5th Sept, Becontree Station, Eastbound Platform

This archive – The Becontree Collection – brings together material from the last 100 years, collected from individuals, through a long period of public engagement and from Keefe’s long-term documentation of the estate. The billboard commission makes the collection visible across the estate in this its centenary year as a series of artworks with newly written poetic statements.

The Becontree Collection is about and for Becontree. Visually rich, the Collection intends to fill the gaps in formal historical archives, as trends in collecting and archiving have changed in this post municipal era; this project responds to shifts in social history, documentation and local trends from the 1970’s onwards. Its starting point was the archive of former Alderman Cllr Fred Jones, whose former home was the inaugural HQ for Living Together, the Councillor’s personal and political ephemera were saved and forms a key strand of the Becontree Collection.

Millions of bricks beneath every pebbledashed crazy paved or mock Tudor wall 9th August – 5th Sept, Becontree Station, Eastbound Platform
Kept in pristine condition in a brown paper envelope alongside other achievements from past political times 9th Aug – 5th September
Clay, sand, lime & more, pushed into moulds then mortar on houses and broken across the same place they were made 9th August – 5th Sept

Pocket-sized instructions kept safe as a bookmark whilst politics and place shifted over time 9th August – 5th Sept
Historic heat & fuel for these houses, with crumbs of material still blown down the chimneys across the living room floor like ghosts….

Aggregate like a semi-precious sculptural object found separated from the road surface it was once part of August 23rd – 5th September
Guidance for pruning with rules to live by and handy hints, bound and distributed by past authorities 23rd August – 5th September
Crazy or patio, footpath or garden feature, standard red decorative issue smashed and scuffed 23rd August – 5th September

For more information on the series and images visit:

A new public sculpture by Veronica Ryan OBE, honouring the Windrush Generation, has been unveiled in Hackney,

Saturday, 02 October 2021

Pictured: Veronica Ryan OBE, ‘Custard Apple (Annonaceae), Breadfruit (Moraceae), and Soursop (Annonaceae), 2021’ (detail). Courtesy the artist, Paula Cooper Gallery and Alison Jaques Gallery. Photo: Andy Keate, 2021

A new permanent public sculpture by celebrated artist Veronica Ryan OBE has been unveiled in east London. The series of three works – large marble and bronze sculptures, representing Caribbean fruit and vegetables – is situated near St. Augustine’s Tower, Hackney. The work references narratives of migration and movement and draws on the artist’s memories of visiting east London markets, including Hackney’s Ridley Road Market, as a child.

Ryan’s work, together with a new sculpture by artist Thomas J Price which will be unveiled on National Windrush Day in June 2022, is the first public artwork in the UK to celebrate and honour the Windrush Generation. 

Veronica Ryan OBE at the public unveiling of her works honouring the Windrush Generation

Ryan said: “With all the world crisis we are experiencing, this is a wonderful time to embrace positivity. Cultural visibility and representation evident in public spaces is crucial. I am very happy that my sculptures will be part of this recognition. Ridley Market here in Hackney remains a vibrant place of early excitement going shopping with my mother, I don’t often get along to the market now, but have been so happy to buy some lovely soursops and custard apples on recent visits. I like the fact that the community in Hackney will see some familiar fruit and vegetables represented in the sculptures, and always enjoy these connections.”

Commissioned by Hackney Council and produced and curated by Create London, the Hackney Windrush Art Commission is made possible with Art Fund support, with additional funding from the Henry Moore Foundation. The accompanying public programme is supported by the Freelands Foundation.

Future Hackney collective returns with more stories and photographs from Ridley Road

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

As part of the Hackney Windrush Commission Programme, the storytelling collective Future Hackney is back for the second part of its documentary exhibition Ridley Road Stories.

 The group, which focuses on co-authorship and developing young talent, spent three years embedded in the sights and sounds of the historic Ridley Road Market and nearby Gillett Square. The overriding mission was to chronicle and celebrate the area’s African and Caribbean communities.

Today the collective is back with Ridley Road Stories Part 2, which sees large-scale images pinned to the underside of Hackney Central bridge on Mare Street, freely available to the public.

Future Hackney’s Don Travis and Wayne Crichlow said: “Working at the intersections of photography and social engagement, we develop relationships with those involved, encourage them to express wider societal experiences such as mental health, exclusion, confinement and being non-binary as it relates to the African and Caribbean experience. In some cases we also guide those involved in taking their own photographs.”

The exhibition is a collaboration with Hackney’s Windrush initiative, commissioned by Create London in collaboration with Hackney Council. Ridley Road Stories Part 2 goes on display today at Hackney Central bridge, Mare Street, E8 1HYand will run for a year.

Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad – Work Leisure exhibition and book launch

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

From the whimsical to the functional, Work-Leisure (2019 – 2021) is a survey of objects made in leisure time by industrial workers in west London’s Park Royal. 

One of the largest industrial estates in Europe, Park Royal is home to more than 2,000 businesses and 40,000employees. Over several months, London-based designer BahbakHashemi-Nezhad visited hundreds of Park Royal businesses and met with workers to catalogue what was being made after-hours and in between tasks on the estate. 

The resulting visual archive contains a diverse range of personal, playful, and practical objects which, although made within an industrial context, fall outside of supply and demand. Each of these projects – from a tyre dealer’s rubber chair to a metal technician’s welded flowers to a glazier’s decorative mirrors to an office manager’s feminist embroidery – demonstrates alternative uses of materials, processes, and techniques within Park Royal’s workspaces.

Begun in 2019 and completed once the estate’s businesses reopened in 2021, Work-Leisureseeks to complicate our understanding of the dynamics between occupation and recreation. 

An exhibition of the photographs will be presented alongside the Work-Leisure publication at Hatton Metalcraft from 24 – 26 September as part of London Design Festival. The work also exists online at

Exhibition details: 

Friday 24 – Sunday 26 September 2021
Open 11am – 6pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11am – 4pm on Sunday
Book launch: Friday 24 September 2021, 5-7pm
Hatton Metalcraft, 
Unit 3, 12 Trading EstateRoad, 
Park Royal, NW10 7LU

Work-Leisure is a major art commission as part of Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation’s (OPDC) Great Place Scheme Programme and is produced by Create London. The Great Place Scheme has been supported by the Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Becontree Festival 2021

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined us in Parsloes Park for the Becontree Forever Weekender. This free event included music, dance, exhibitions, performances and more. See some pictures below from the day, including Elsa James’ procession, Sarina Mantle’s bunting and a performance by the One Room Collective. 

For more information on each of the artists and the Becontree Forever programme please see here

Sarina Mantle’s Bunting
Elsa James’ Procession
Elsa James’ Procession
Elsa James’ Procession
Yinka Ilori’s Basketball Design Competition 
Yinka Ilori’s Basketball Design Competition 
One Room Collective performance
One Room Collective performance

Shezad Dawood’s Visions of Paradise

Friday, 13 August 2021

Visions of Paradise is a site-responsive sculpture and light installation on permanent display outside The White House on Becontree Estate.

The work’s title alludes to a description of the estate during the Ford Factory era as a ‘working-class paradise’ (Reuters, 2019). During this period, many residents were employed at the Ford factory in Dagenham, and the estate was brought to life with summer parades and gardening competitions. It typified a quintessential form of British suburban life for the working classes.  

Artist Shezad Dawood at once references and departs from a dream-like, visionary paradise through a moving image work, which includes film and digital animation that illuminate the work’s surroundings. This filmic work is hosted in a sculpture that borrows its appearance from ancient Neolithic standing stones, referencing Dagenham as a site of archaeological interest, and connecting its pre-industrial past with its current residents’ sense of place. 

This happens through the digital animation, which is populated by historical and contemporary Becontree icons including the Ford Capri, the Dagenham Idol and pink flamingos that famously once inhabited one of the area’s parks. These sit alongside icons meaningful to the diverse communities that make up a more recent Becontree – such as the Lithuanian stork, or the Nigerian amunututu vegetable – and deeply personal symbols that range from drumsticks, to a hot sauce bottle and a toy bear, highlighted to Dawood in his conversations with local residents. 

The different objects coalesce and float across multiple film textures edited together using local archives, clips contributed by residents and new 8mm footage shot by the artist. Audiences are able to immerse themselves in an especially commissioned musical score by patten, which creates a sonic atmosphere that responds to the shifting imagery in the film. 

Dawood bridges the ancient and the contemporary through an oneiric journey, creating a symbolic space that encapsulates a sense of place beyond what is physically present in the here and now. In celebrating the lived experiences of Becontree’s residents past and present, the work gestures to new possibilities for community and a renewed sense of belonging.

Dawood has said about the work, ‘I was excited to work closely with residents and different stakeholders to develop a project that is felt to be truly representative of Becontree’s communities during the historic milestone of its centenary. It feels like a timely moment in a world after COVID-19 – and in light of renewed discussions around which legacies we choose to celebrate in public space – to think about how we inhabit the public realm collectively. It is an important space from which to resist isolation, and I see this as an inspiring opportunity to contribute to a sense of pride and place as Becontree’s future is imagined anew by its communities.’ 

‘We Don’t Know Where We Are In The Drama’ by Abbas Zahedi, Raised Voices & Michalis

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Painted Dagenham 2021 Idols on Kingsley Hall stage

We are pleased to be able to premier three exciting new film works that have been made to mark the centenary of the Becontree Estate this Sunday. The films include the premiere of ‘We Don’t Know Where We Are In The Drama’ by Abbas Zahedi, Raised Voices & Michalis, 2021

Abbas Zahedi worked with Arc Theatre’s young women’s group, Raised Voices to develop an on-going dialogue around the Dagenham idol that interconnects with the young women’s own lived experiences on the estate. The resulting conversations, recollections, anecdotes and statements act as contemporary myths and symbolically continue the story of the idol.

Dagenham Idols 2021 Drying Process

The resulting moving image archive also records the process of Michalis sculpting a series of copies of the Dagenham idols, a further protagonist in Zahedi’s project. Interspersed into the work’s visual lexicon is footage of artist and designer Madelon Vriesendorp’s wide-reaching collection of naive figurines; her universe of representations of figures resonates with the now visually differentiated newly formed Dagenham Idols. 

Credits: Nikolai Azariah – Assistant Editor; William Barylo – Assistant Photographer; Barry Gene-Murphy – Visual Support

All the films are courtesy the artists, commissioned by Create London and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. These works form part of Becontree Forever.

Becontree Festival – 14/15 August

Friday, 06 August 2021

Create will be in Parsloes Park next weekend as part of the Becontree Forever Weekender. The major arts and music festival is part of the Becontree Forever programme which celebrates the centenary of the Becontree Estate; the biggest housing estate in the UK.

This free event includes music, dance, exhibitions, performances and more. Come and see Create London – we will have a stall near the Sydney Russell School. Visit our stall to find out how we’ve been celebrating 100 years of our home – once the largest social housing estate in the world. 

Joy Labinjo’s mural Birthday Party on the Green (2021)
The mural can be found at the Blackborne Road entrance of Dagenham Heathway shopping centre.

Shezad Dawood’s Visions of Paradise (2021)
A major new public artwork on permanent display outside The White House.  The work illuminates its surroundings through a digital animation, hosted in a sculptural display.

Verity-Jane Keefe’s Becontree Collection Billboards (2021)
Installed in nine locations across the Becontree Estate, Verity-Jane Keefe’s new public realm exhibition makes visible some of the objects collected as part of her long-term project Living Together.

Blak Outside x White House Plant Stall 
Join in with growing activities and a Becontree herb sale from the multidisciplinary creative collective, Blak Outside

Art Club with Elsa James, 2020-21 The White House as part of New Town Culture. 

Procession with Elsa James and local families, 12pm
Celebrate the brilliant Becontree-inspired costumes made in our Family Art Club, with artist and activist Elsa James

One Room Collective performance, 4pm
Barking and Dagenham-based collective One Room have produced a new podcast series that imagines a future for the Becontree in sound. They will perform snippets of The New East Vignettes of the Future Past at 4pm at The Tea Room

Verity-Jane Keefe, Banjo on the Banjo (2021)

Create’s Short Film Programme
We are pleased to premier three exciting new film works that have been made to mark the centenary of the Becontree Estate. These will be screened in the Sydney Russell School’s screening room from midday until 4pm, on Saturday 14 August.

Free entry – No tickets are required and the event will take place subject to COVID-19 and following the current government guidelines. Read more about the festival here

Verity-Jane Keefe, Living Together: The Becontree Collection Billboards

Friday, 06 August 2021

Verity-Jane Keefe, Brick, green splatter, 2021

Installed in nine locations across the Becontree Estate, artist Verity-Jane Keefe’s new public realm exhibition makes visible some of the objects collected as part of her long-term project in Becontree, Living Together.

The work intends to reflect the material of the place including building matter and archival political material. This new archive – The Becontree Collection –  brings together material from the last 100 years, collected from individuals, through a long period of public engagement and from Keefe’s long-term documentation of the estate. The billboard commission makes the collection visible across the estate in this its centenary year as a series of artworks with newly written poetic statements.

Verity-Jane Keefe, Coal, 2021

The Becontree Collection is about and for Becontree; recording, responding and collected over 2021 as a slice of both time and place.  Visually rich, the Collection intends to fill the gaps in formal historical archives, as trends in collecting and archiving have changed in this post municipal era; this project responds to shifts in social history, documentation and local trends from the 1970’s onwards.

Its starting point was the archive of former Alderman Cllr Fred Jones, whose former home was the inaugural HQ for Living Together, the Councillor’s personal and political ephemera were saved and forms a key strand of the Becontree Collection. 

Share your photographs online using #LivingTogetherVJK 

For more information on the series and images visit:

Launching next week: Shezad Dawood’s Visions of Paradise

Friday, 06 August 2021

‘Visions of Paradise’ is a new public artwork by artist Shezad Dawood which will be on permanent display outside The White House on the Becontree Estate from 12 August 2021. 

The work, made to mark the centenary of the Becontree Estate illuminates its surroundings through a digital animation, hosted in a sculptural display that borrows its form from ancient Neolithic standing stones, connecting a pre-industrial past with Dagenham’s present-day sense of place.

The animation is populated by historic and contemporary icons of Becontree selected in dialogue with local residents, including images of a vintage Ford Capri and the Dagenham Idol. These are overlaid on the Super 8mm footage newly shot by the artist alongside clips contributed by the community and archival film. The work is accompanied by an especially commissioned musical score by patten. 

Its title alludes to a description of Becontree Estate at the time of its construction (1921–35) as a ‘working-class paradise’ and references the estate’s visionary architecture, its hey-day of shared communal activity and the symbols that have come to define its residents’ sense of place. 

A special screening of the animation will take place at Sydney Russell School’s screening room on 15 August 2021 to accompany the Becontree Festival and will run throughout the day. It will form part of a programme of films created especially for the estate’s centenary year. 

Shezad Dawood works across film, painting and sculpture to juxtapose discrete systems of image, language, site and narrative, using the editing process as a method to explore meanings and forms between film and painting. The artist currently has work on view at the Folkestone Triennial and Concert From Bangladesh, commissioned by UBIK Productions and the Samdani Art Foundation. 

Shezad Dawood, Visions of Paradise, 2021. Super 8 with HD video, 3D animation and vintage archive transferred to HD, 16’23”. Commissioned by Create London, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The work sits within Becontree Forever: a programme of art, architecture and infrastructure to mark the centenary of the estate. Courtesy of the artist and UBIK Productions.

Create presents an exciting new short film programme

Thursday, 05 August 2021

We are pleased to premier three exciting new film works that have been made to mark the centenary of the Becontree Estate. These will be screened in the Sydney Russell School‘s screening room from midday until 4pm, next Sunday 15 August

Shezad Dawood, Visions of Paradise (2021)

This new work illuminates its surroundings through a digital animation, hosted in a sculptural display that borrows its form from ancient Neolithic standing stones, connecting a pre-industrial past with Becontree’s present-day sense of place. 

Verity-Jane Keefe, Banjo on the Banjo (2021)

BANJO ON THE BANJO was a musical performance located in various banjos across the Becontree Estate culminating in Parsloes Park in August 2019 as part of Living Together. Twenty-one people learned to play the banjo with musician and teacher Ed Hicks and were then joined by a group of more experienced players to perform a new piece of music that responded to the banjos of Becontree and the estate itself. This new film shares the process and performance. 

Abbas Zahedi, Raised Voices & Michalis, We Don’t Know Where We Are In The Drama (2021)

Abbas Zahedi worked with Arc Theatre’s young women’s group, Raised Voices to develop an on-going dialogue around the Dagenham idol that interconnects with the young women’s own lived experiences on the estate. The resulting conversations, recollections, anecdotes and statements act as contemporary myths and symbolically continue the story of the idol.  

Alongside these works, Create will also be screening Larry Achiampong’s The Expulsion (2019).  The Expulsion is a deeply personal work crafted from the imagination of the artist. The film highlights the rich interior world of an unnamed migrant with references to themes of race, class and gender. Achiampong, who spent time living in Dagenham, is producing a new sound work this autumn as part of our Becontree Centenary programming. 

All of the works are commissioned by Create London, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and sit within Becontree Forever: a programme of art, architecture and infrastructure to mark the centenary of the estate. Larry Achiampong’s work is courtesy of the artist with Copperfield, London & LUX London). 

Additional Credits
Abbas Zahedi: Nikolai Azariah – Assistant Editor; William Barylo – Assistant Photographer; Barry Gene-Murphy – Visual Support.

Shezad Dawood: Sculpture with cast resin lights and Super 8 with HD video, 3D animation and vintage archive transferred to HD, 16’23”. Courtesy of the artist and UBIK Productions. 

Verity-Jane Keefe:Additional cinematography by Leo Leigh and the banjo volunteers: Charlotte Klein, Lois Acton, Rupert Acton-Thompson, Jessica Agwa, Danny Baxter, Susan Shirley & the families of the banjo players. Additional sound recording by Louisa Steyaert 

Performing with Studio Wayne McGregor

Friday, 09 July 2021

We’re looking for performers, boys and young men aged 14-18, for movement and choreography workshops with Studio Wayne McGregor.

Studio Wayne McGregor is the creative engine for choreographer and director Wayne McGregor CBE, and the home of his life-long enquiry into thinking through and with the body. It is a nexus of partners who explore movement, artistry, thought and partnership. With Wayne at its centre, this collaborative network encompasses dancers, writers, composers, producers, software engineers, visual artists, scientists and more.

Tree of Codes, 2015, Studio Wayne McGregor

The workshops will create a choreography routine in response to the new public artwork ‘Parsloes Memphis’ by artist Eva Rothschild. This work – a public playground – will be made up of vibrantly coloured geometric cubes, embedded with opportunities to activate self-directed play.  “Sculpture as a playground should be activated through the body, through movement , irreverence,  imagination and joy.” – Eva Rothschild

‘My World and Your World’ a major public sculpture by Eva Rothschild in Lewis Cubitt Park, King’s Cross.

The programme will begin with a series of taster sessions to introduce participants to the themes and content of the work, followed by a week-long explorative movement and choreography workshop.

Taster Sessions
Tuesday 20 July, 4-6pm
Thursday 22 July, 7-9pm
Tuesday 27 July, 4-6pm
Thursday 29 July, 7-9pm

Main Programme will run from Monday 2 August – Saturday 7 August, 11am – 4pm.

The final piece will be filmed and then performed live at the Becontree 100 Festival on the 14th August in Parsloes Park. To register interest please email Mhairi McGhee:

Verity-Jane Keefe’s Virtual Walk #3

Friday, 25 June 2021

Walking with Rodrigo 1st July, 7 pm

Verity-Jane Keefe’s third virtual walk will be broadcast on Thursday 1st July on LT TV at 7pm. This time, the artist will be walking with Rodrigo, a member of The Becontree Group, a group of residents she set up in 2019 who have been meeting monthly in real life and by post over lockdown. Rodrigo will be walking through his Becontree, as a place to grow up, leave and return to. Join for a moment of it, or the full walk. In the spirit of slow television, a moving image. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it.

The walking route is available on the map section of the website for those local, and curious.

LT TV is your portal to Living Together and Becontree. Living Together TV. Events, walks, conversations, readings – everything that we can’t do in physical space together will be broadcast via this stream. It is a screening room, a gallery, a direct line to Becontree, and a way to feel close when we are remote.

Living Together is a major art commission by Verity-Jane Keefe which forms part of a wider programme with Create London celebrating the centenary of the Becontree estate in Barking and Dagenham and culminates Keefe’s many years of work in and about the estate. It will look at the past 100 years of social housing through the lens of Becontree, which was once the largest social housing estate in the world; looking at its past, the present and into the future. The project will run live through the year during an urgent period of economic, social and political change and the ever-evolving backdrop of Covid-19, which will be absorbed and responded to within the production of works.

Celebrating National Windrush Day

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Coinciding with National Windrush Day today, we are thrilled to announce the unveiling of a new artwork by artist Halina Edwards, Flags About Home. The work, which is now on view at Vogue Fabrics Dalston (VFD), navigates the meaning of home through preservation and memory, celebrating the idea of home, and showsHackney as a safe space for the creative and migrant community – namely, the Windrush Generation. 

Halina Edwards, Flags About Home, Vogue Fabrics Dalston

Flags About Home celebrates the home and commemorates Windrush Day – today marking the 73rdanniversary of SS Empire Windrush arriving at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948.

London-based fashion designer Martine Rose has created a gift to the Windrush Generation in Hackney: a limited-edition teatowel, designed using patterns taken from her AW19 collection. The prints pay homage to traditional Afro Caribbean kitchen-alia and feature a popular ackee and saltfish recipe. The tea-towels will be gifted to the members of the Windrush Generation, collaborators on the project, and the wider Hackney community. 

Martine established her eponymous label in London in 2007, which is inspired by her Jamaican-British heritage and deep interest and personal involvement in the music and melting-pot cultures of London. Martine Rose said: “It’s an absolute privilege to contribute in a very small way to honour the Windrush generation and show my sincerest gratitude for the sacrifices they made for us. Thank you, elders.”

Also launching today is a new website celebrating the Windrush community  – featuring events, stories, films and support for those affected by the Windrush scandal. will be the place to discover Windrush-themed events throughout the year including those hosted by the local community thanks to funding from Hackney Council’s Windrush microgrant scheme.

And if you’re in Hackney over the coming weeks, keep an eye out for The Real Selfie Project’s set of limited-edition artworks.

The Hackney Windrush Art Commission created in partnership with Hackney Council. It is supported by Art Fund with additional funding from the Henry Moore Foundation. The public programme is supported by the Freelands Foundation.

Hackney Windrush Art Commission on BBC One

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah speaks to artists Veronica Ryan and Thomas J Price on BBC’s The One Show about the Hackney Windrush Art Commission. 

Benjamin Zephaniah speaking BBC’s The One Show


Thomas J Price and Veronica Ryan have been commissioned by Hackney Council to create two new individual public artworks celebrating and honouring Hackney’s Windrush Generation, the first permanent public sculptures to do so in the UK.

Benjamin Zephaniah and Veronica Ryan in Ridley Road Market, Hackney

The artworks will be unveiled on 1 October 2021 (Veronica Ryan) and 22 June 2022 (Thomas J Price), and will be installed in two different locations at the heart of civic and community life in the borough, including outside Hackney Town Hall. The works will serve as a permanent expression of solidarity with the Windrush Generation, a recognition of the hugely significant contribution they have made to life in Hackney and the UK, and will symbolise the ongoing commitment from the borough to provide refuge and welcome to worldwide migrants. 

Artist Thomas J Price speaking to BBC’s The One Show

Read more about the Hackney Windrush Art Commission – created in partnership with Hackney Council here

The Hackney Windrush Art Commission is supported by Art Fund with additional funding from the Henry Moore Foundation. The public programme is supported by the Freelands Foundation.

Hackney Windrush Art Commission – new details announced

Friday, 11 June 2021

We’re excited to reveal details for the planned unveiling of new public sculptures by Veronica Ryan and Thomas J Price celebrating the Windrush Generation, alongside a major supporting public programme. New permanent public sculptures by celebrated artists Veronica Ryan and Thomas J Price will be unveiled in Hackney, east London, on 1 October 2021 and 22 June 2022 respectively.

Veronica Ryan’s series of large marble and bronze sculptures, representing Caribbean fruit and vegetables, will be unveiled on 1 October 2021, near St. Augustine’s Tower in Hackney. Ryan’s work references narratives of migration and movement and draws on the artist’s memories of visiting east London markets as a child.

Veronica Ryan at Spike Island. Image: Lisa Whiting

Thomas J Price’s artwork, sited in front of Hackney Town Hall, will be unveiled on National Windrush Day, 22 June 2022. Using photo archives, observations and digital 3D scans of Hackney residents, Price will create a large-scale bronze sculpture. This larger-than-life physical representation of people from the African Caribbean diaspora will be a bold celebration of the legacy and cultural influence of the Windrush Generation, while also seeking to address the disproportionate lack of statues representing black people in the UK.

Supporting these two works will be a major new public programme of creative commissions and community engagement. A new website,, designed by east London-based design agency Regular Practice and created by Hackney-based creative agency Blanguage – will launch on Windrush Day, 22 June 2021.

Halina Edwards, Flags About Home

The wider public programme will also launch on Windrush Day, with the unveiling of a new artwork at Vogue Fabrics Dalston (VFD) by artist Halina Edwards, and the gifting of a limited-edition tea towel by London-based fashion designer Martine Rose to Hackney’s Windrush Generation. Titled Flags About Home, Halina Edwards’ work celebrates the idea of home, and shows Hackney as a safe space for the creative and migrant community – namely, the Windrush Generation.

Martine Rose’s limited-edition tea towel pays homage to traditional Afro-Caribbean kitchen-alia and feature a popular ackee and saltfish recipe. The tea towels will be gifted to the members of the Windrush Generation, collaborators on the project, and the wider Hackney community.

In autumn 2021, Create London will collaborate on a series of community engagement workshops with partners including Autograph ABP Gallery; and an Early Years Resource, created by Laura Henry-Allain.

Ridley Road 2021 image @futurehackney

In September, Future Hackney – an artist-led collective who document social change in east London – will unveil a free exhibition of large format images in Hackney, focused on the Caribbean and African communities living in and around Ridley Road, an area of east London which was an inspiration for Veronica Ryan’s sculptures. A dynamic symposium will be held in October 2021.

This project is produced and curated by Create London in partnership withHackney Council and supported by Freelands Foundation. The Hackney Windrush Art Commission is supported by Art Fund with additional funding fro the Henry Moore Foundation. The public programme is supported by the Freelands Foundation.

Squaring the Corners in Becontree with nimtim architects

Wednesday, 09 June 2021

Over the last May Bank Holiday we visited Becontree with nimtim architects who will be transforming 11 neglected corner plots on the estate, to create three new green squares on residential streets as part of the centenary celebrations. The focus of the day was to invite local residents, councillors and neighbours to the three proposed sites to discuss the plans for the corner plots.

Residents met up at the junctions of Adomar and Aylmer Road, Fuller and Lindsey Road and the Gale Street roundabout to discuss their corner plots project which will be the first of their kind here, creating a space that is in part wild, intimate and social. The outline designs borrow from existing geometries, colours and materials within the estate, and are being shaped by resident input.

“There are lots of speeding vehicles that use this street to cut through, so traffic calming solutions would be good”

“I’m concerned about anti-social behaviour but I like the community aspect” – Samantha

At each site, nimtim brought interactive scale models for residents to properly explore the ways that wilding and activating these plots will enliven and enrich the neighborhood, providing new places for people to meet, rest, grow and play.

We had a great turnout on the day with valuable conversations. We collected residents’ ideas and hopes for their streets, as well as concerns and past experiences. Residents were interested in ways to encourage nature through planting and creating areas for pause and reflection. Traffic calming and safer streets was also a high priority. The project will use the information gathered to inform the design decisions for each site. Nimtim will continue to engage with local residents through workshops, and hope to involve local residents in planting in the autumn.

nimtim Architects: Squaring the Corners is co-commissioned by Create London and the Royal Institute of British Architects for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Progress on tackling structural racism and inequality

Friday, 04 June 2021

12 months ago, we published a pledge in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd. Like many arts organisations in the UK, we acknowledged then that we wanted to take steps to tackle structural racism in our own organisation and to embody greater equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of who we are and the work that we do.

Last summer we appointed David Bryan to work with us on this process. David has held key roles in the voluntary and public sectors for over 30 years and has been involved in anti-racist work throughout his career. His work with us continues and encompasses change management, a wide-ranging organisational review and leadership training; all centered around achieving greater equality and diversity. 

David has conducted confidential individual consultations with all staff and is attending board meetings.  In response to these consultations, David has supported us to identify and start to implement the changes we need to make.  His work has included reviewing:

  • our mission, values and practices in working with artists, partners and local communities
  • board and staff recruitment policies and practices
  • policies and practices around fundraising and development


So far, we have focussed on tackling structural racism in a holistic way across the organisation and our practice, in a process that has involved our full team and board.


  • We have created space for an organisation-wide discussion of diversity and inclusion within the mission, values and overall direction of Create. We have established working groups to develop new Codes of Practice for our work with artists and local communities that will help shape and steer the next phase of the organisation. These will guide us in ensuring better representation in decision-making, project initiation, evaluation, communication and in our approaches to working within diverse communities. 
  • Just as we are committed to working with artists from a diverse range of backgrounds in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, complex needs and socio-economic backgrounds, we are working to reshape our team and our board to reflect more closely the demographics and lived experience of the diverse communities we work with.
  • We are building on our investment in staff development and have made progress on recruitment in the last year. By the end of 2023, we aim to meet these targets:  50% of our team – including the senior team – to be people from Black, Asian or minoritised backgrounds. Building on this, we are developing targets around intersectionality to include the representation of people with a disability, impairment or long-term illness and for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  
  • We have grown our team over the past year and moved a number of staff members from freelance to salaried contracts to ensure greater job security. 
  • We have developed a new fundraising policy that will help us structure decision-making on project and organisational funding.
  • We have enhanced our induction process and introduced a buddy system to better support new members of our team.
  • We have implemented additional management training for all those with line-management responsibilities.
  • We have appointed Thanh Sinden and Helen Ball to train our team in designing evaluation processes for our programme in Dagenham; this will give us new tools to help us strengthen the way we evaluate our work as a whole.
  • We have begun a process of board renewal aimed at achieving better representation.  We are in the process of recruiting a new Chair and have two additional board places available, with a further two becoming vacant over this calendar year. We identified the need for human rights, local community, media and arts sector expertise and we have started the process of recruiting new trustees who will also bring greater cultural and racial diversity to the board.  Our aim is for our board to have 40% representation from Black, Asian or minoritised backgrounds by the end of this calendar year and 50% by 2023. 


Over the past year, our curatorial team have focussed the delivery of our programme around achieving greater diversity and inclusion. 

  • Programmes in Hackney, Brent and Barking and Dagenham have focussed on commissioning artists from diverse backgrounds and have set out to bring increased diversity in the public realm and in the process of re-interpreting local community histories. 
  • Whilst we have always worked with local partners, we are placing increased focus on creating opportunities for, and collaborations with, local organisations in Hackney and in Barking and Dagenham.


  • We are committed to building on this renewed way of working, and our progress will be incorporated into our annual reporting on an ongoing basis.
  • We will build on our current efforts to develop our board and leadership team to achieve greater diversity. 
  • We will take the opportunity to underline our commitment in our new five-year plan that we will develop this autumn, with a renewed leadership team and Board.

This work is not finished and is not intended to be a quick fix.  Our endeavour is to make the organisation the best it can be – more reflective of the diversity of London and for our work to embody a commitment to those who are marginalised and do not have a voice. 

There have been and will continue to be, difficult conversations for us to have and decisions for us to take. There is much more for us to learn, but we are committed to this process and we know it will lead us towards becoming a better and stronger organisation. 

An update from Create

Friday, 28 May 2021

Construction work on A House for Artists (Apparata architects). A project initiated by Hadrian Garrard in 2015, which will be completed later this year.

Today, we are announcing that Hadrian Garrard is to step down as Director of Create London.  Hadrian founded Create in 2012, along with 5 local authority partners, as a legacy of the work he led in east London during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Over the past ten years, he steered the organisation towards becoming a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England; an Associate Partner of the Barbican, and through his work at Create, supported a series of new independent organisations and enterprises to become established.  

 Says Hadrian “I feel lucky to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues, artists, trustees and partners over the past decade. There isn’t an organisation quite like Create, working in the public realm with artists, architects, and local communities in such ambitious and adventurous ways. One thing I’m especially proud of is that Create continues to evolve, to learn and, in many ways, to reinvent itself. I’m very happy to be making space now for new leadership that will enrich the organisation as it develops a new long-term vision.”

Hadrian will be starting a new role as Head of Creative Engagement at the London Borough of Waltham Forest later this summer. We will miss Hadrian and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours and thank him for his commitment and service to Create over many years. Our recruitment process will begin next month.

Help us create a new mural

Monday, 10 May 2021

We’re looking for photos to help artist, Joy Labinjo devise a new large-scale, permanent mural for Becontree Estate at Dagenham Heathway. As part of the Becontree Centenary 2021 we are collecting photographs of people, homes and celebrations taken on the estate between 1921 to 2021 to inspire a new mural design.

We would like to collect many images of photos from contemporary and past daily life showing residents of all ages, genders and ethnicities.

We’re particularly interested in any photos of:

-Becontree residents – past and present (groups & individuals)
-Family gatherings, parties and celebrations
-Residents dressed in Sunday best/or traditional dress
-Local events, shows and festivals on the estate
-Home interiors (especially showing furniture, wallpaper & carpet patterns)
-Residents at home and in their gardens

SUBMIT YOUR PHOTOS: Please scan or pic of your photo(s) and email them to: with your name and contact info.


Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of Becontree Forever

Verity-Jane Keefe: Living Together Virtual Walk #2

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Join artists Verity-Jane Keefe on a virtual walk ‘East to West’ on 29th April, 6.30pm. The walk will be streamed at this time on LT TV. Join for a moment of it, or the full walk. In the spirit of slow television, this is a moving image walk from east to west in real-time, across Becontree. The walking route is available on the map section of for those local, and curious.

LT TV is your portal to Living Together and Becontree. Living Together TV. Events, walks, conversations, readings – everything that we can’t do in physical space together will be broadcast via this stream. It is a screening room, a gallery, a direct line to Becontree and a way to feel close when we are remote.

Living Together is a major art commission by Verity-Jane Keefe which forms part of a wider programme with Create London celebrating the centenary of the Becontree estate in Barking and Dagenham and culminates Keefe’s many years of work in and about the estate. It will look at the past 100 years of social housing through the lens of Becontree, which was once the largest social housing estate in the world; looking at its past, the present and into the future. The project will run live through the year during an urgent period of economic, social and political change and the ever-evolving backdrop of Covid-19, which will be absorbed and responded to within the production of works.

Hackney Windrush Commission

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Help us make history by taking part in one of the first permanent artworks commemorating the Windrush Generation.

Thomas J Price is creating a larger-than-life bronze sculpture representing people from the African Caribbean diaspora and he needs people to inform the work. If you’re a Hackney resident, aged 18 or older with a connection to the Windrush generation, we’d love to hear from you.

Participants must be available on 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th May 2021. Please follow this link to complete the application form. Please note organisers will follow Covid safety guidelines. The deadline is 6pm, Monday 3 May.

Verity-Jane Keefe – Living Together

Friday, 01 January 2021

Living Together is a unique major art commission by Verity-Jane Keefe which forms part of a wider programme celebrating the centenary of the Becontree estate in Barking and Dagenham and culminates Keefe’s many years of work in and about the estate. It will look at the past 100 years of social housing through the lens of Becontree, which was once the largest social housing estate in the world; looking at its past, the present and into the future. The project will run live through the year during an urgent period of economic, social and political change and the ever-evolving backdrop of Covid-19, which will be absorbed and responded to within the production of works.

Using a broad range of artistic strategies this large-scale commission will produce a new collection as an artwork for the estate through site-specific engagement work. Keefe’s research-based multidisciplinary practice includes film, photography, objects and text which is often created in response to encounters with people and spaces. This approach will inform the production of the collection and will be made visible throughout the year in an ongoing public programme, an online viewing platform, LT TV, and an exhibition in the Architecture Gallery at The Royal Institute of British Architects. London.

Taking as its starting point the edges of formal archives, the work explores the complexities of life as it is today, through key issues such as industrialisation, de-industrialisation, immigration, east-end drift, trade unionism, work, workers’ rights, the left, the right, the far left, the far right, regeneration, neoliberalism and some hefty changes to housing policy and notably and visibly, The Right to Buy. It will reveal and give status to the often invisible lived experience of a place which includes wide-reaching subject matter, as well as reflecting upon the anecdotal, recording the local vernacular of people and the built environment which will involve creating a Becontree specific material palette. 

Living Together is not the conclusive or exclusive story of the Becontree Estate, nor a history lesson in social housing, these exist elsewhere. It is for, with, about, on and off the Estate. This project proposes the questions: Can a place ever be finished? What makes a town or estate complete? Who records and documents this completion and complexity? The building of Becontree was completed in 1935 when the red ribbon was cut, subsequently, the following years have seen an undoing and countless additions to this complete vision via occupation, living, changes to local and national policy, and the ever-changing and enduring presence of the individual.

Follow Living Together over the year at where all opportunities and happenings will be listed.

Happy-beginning-of-the-centenary-to-you Becontree. Living Together is being delivered with a large supporting cast of local residents, partners and community groups. Keefe has been working for the last two years to test, shape and develop social structures and activities as a way to inform the 2021 programme of activity. The programme will evolve and adapt over the year in response to the process. Working closely with Valence House Archives on the legacy of The Becontree Collection and archival training opportunities with local residents There will be a project HQ at The White House in Becontree which will be made public at points over the year, when safe to do so. 

A November Update

Friday, 27 November 2020

Dear Friends,

What a year this has been for us all! Working remotely has given us all many challenges throughout 2020 and, especially for an organisation like Create, where our programme and the practices of the artists we work with are inherently social, we’ve had to modify and adapt at every turn throughout this strange year.

Despite the challenges 2020 has thrown our way, we’re immensely proud of the work we’ve achieved. From breaking ground on A House for Artists, to realising two, new public murals in Brent, our work has continued to take us into the housing estates, parks, playgrounds, factories and libraries of London and beyond. Read more about our 2020 programme, including the Hackney Windrush Art Commissions and New Town Culture at The White House.

We hope you, your families, friends and colleagues are well and staying safe and we look forward to seeing everybody in person in 2021, with a range of exciting programming being realised in the new year. 

The Team at Create

Freelands Foundation to fund Windrush education and engagement programme

Friday, 13 November 2020

We are delighted to announce news of substantial new funding from Freelands Foundation.

Freelands Foundation today announces £1.27m in grants to Iniva, New Art Exchange in Nottingham and Create London, the first round of a total commitment of £3m and the first step in a bold new plan of action by the Foundation to address the issue of racial inequality in the visual arts. Additionally, the Foundation has pledged to commit 15% of all future grants to initiatives with specific targets to promote the involvement of Black and ethnic minorities in the visual arts.

Create London will receive £270k over two years to deliver an education and engagement programme celebrating and honouring the Windrush Generation with schools and community groups in close partnership with Hackney Council, to complement the borough’s two new major public artworks by Thomas J Price and Veronica Ryan. This programme will activate discussions around diaspora, identity and representation in public spaces with primary and secondary pupils and local residents. Projects will include photography and printing sessions, a public exhibition, symposium and a website providing access to newly developed learning resources and other activities. 

“This grant enables us to boost community inclusion on the Windrush ArtCommissions to include young people and residents across Hackney, which is paramount to the success of the project. Through an ambitious programme of educational resources and digital engagement, these new permanent public artworks and their message of solidarity will be able to reach not only residents in the London borough but the Windrush community across the UK.”  Lewis Gilbert, Curator, Create London

For more information see

Remember This House – New Video

Thursday, 12 November 2020

The first permanent public artwork by leading British-Filipino artist Pio Abad takes the form of two murals on Kilburn High Road (on Burton Road and Willesden Lane) that are inspired by vanitas still life paintings. The objects presented in the murals reveal an unexpected history of Kilburn High Road by bringing together artefacts from the Brent Museum Archives, ornaments of personal significance shared by local residents and items that Abad photographed on the high road.

In creating these contemporary vanitas murals, Abad commemorates how the complex, and often painful, history of colonialism has shaped the communities living on Kilburn High Road, while also celebrating the people from the area, whose stories are embedded within the objects. 

Progress on tackling structural racism and inequality

Friday, 30 October 2020

In early June, Create released a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In early July, we published a pledge outlining how we will deliver our own organisational change and promising to publish an update on progress in October.

Over the past three months there have been a number of changes.

We have appointed David Bryan, a consultant who has been working within the arts, voluntary and public sectors for over 30 years, to assist and guide us in this process. David has been involved in anti-racist work for many years and is committed to supporting and delivering real and measurable culture change. His work with us is wide ranging and includes change management, organisation reviews, leadership training, equality and diversity and much more.

David is beginning with individual confidential consultations with all staff.  In response to these sessions, David intends to design a specific programme for his work jointly with the team and to spend at least 12-18 months working with us. We will also invite other specialists to facilitate workshops and discussions.

After this initial consultation period David will make recommendations for actions to tackle structural racism and inequality pertaining to our organisation’s structure, recruitment and HR policies, the composition of Create’s Board of Trustees, our fundraising and partnership policies, our curatorial and project initiation processes and commissioning of artists, creative practitioners and working with grassroots organisations.

Sitting alongside this review, we are now actively recruiting for a new Chair of our Board of Trustees, with up to six new board members to be appointed over the next 12 months. 

We have prioritised time each week for discussion of our action plan with the whole team and introduced tackling structural racism as a standing agenda item for board meetings. We have also taken actions to bring our staff and board closer together, holding focused discussion sessions on the programme and organisational change with board and team members, to more adequately and openly reflect the changes to our organisation, and to specifically review our progress on anti-racism.

David’s review and recommendations will continue over the next months and we will provide another update on our progress in January. In the meantime, if you have any questions, reflections or feedback about this process, please contact us on

Pio Abad and Minerva Cuevas in Conversation

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Remember this House, is the first permanent public artwork by leading British-Filipino artist Pio Abad. It takes the form of two murals on Kilburn High Road that are inspired by vanitas still life paintings. Emerging as an art form in the 16th century, vanitas paintings intended to symbolise the fragility of human life through the depiction of objects, which were mainly goods and artefacts brought into Europe for the first time from colonised countries. Abad shares this interest in the lives and meaning of objects which he looks at as carriers of narratives, each one able to contain an entire collection of histories, geographies and emotional journeys.

Join Pio Abad in conversation with fellow artist Minerva Cuevas at 7pm, Thursday 29 October as they discuss their practices and Abad’s murals commission for the Brent Biennial. Find out more/register your spot here

Remember this House is co-commissioned by Create London and Brent Borough of Culture 2020.

Minerva Cuevas, born in 1975 in Mexico City, is one of the Latin-American artists renowned for her work based on context research and interventions integrated with subversive visual and socio-political messages. Her works often include participatory elements of endeavors in cultural, urban civic and virtual space exploring the ways in which the mass media is implicated in these activities as a powerful mediating element in society. She founded Better Life Corporation in 1998, became a member of, and recently founded the International Understanding Foundation in 2016. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: “No room to play” at the daadgalerie, Berlín and “Soft Power” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Upcoming projects will be shown as part of the Mediacity Biennial in Seul, Korea and Museo Jumex in Mexico City.

Pio Abad: Remember This House

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Remember this House, created as part of the Brent Biennale 2020, has now been unveiled. Located on the Kilburn High Road, these two murals reveal an unexpected history by bringing together artefacts from the Brent Museum Archives, ornaments of personal significance shared by local residents and items that Abad photographed on the high road. Among them, an ashtray from the Empire Windrush, a face mask made from African wax fabric, a hand-painted Romanian Easter egg, a traditional Somalian leather bag decorated with seashells and a wooden clock from Fiji in the shape of a turtle. 

These are the first permanent public artwork by Abad, a leading British-Filipino. Abad’s practice is concerned with the social and political signification of things. His work, in a range of media including textiles, drawing, installation and photography, and his strategies of appropriation reveal alternative or repressed historical events and draw out threads of complicity between incidents, ideologies and people. 

The Kilburn High Road murals are inspired by vanitas still life paintings. Emerging as an art form in the 16th century, vanitas paintings intended to symbolise the fragility of human life through the depiction of objects, which were mainly goods and artefacts that were coming into Europe from the colonies for the first time. Abad shares this interest in the lives and meaning of objects which he looks at as carriers of narratives, each one able to contain an entire collection of histories, geographies and emotional journeys. 

In creating these contemporary vanitas murals, Abad commemorates how the complex,  and often painful, history of colonialism has shaped the communities living on Kilburn High Road, while also celebrating the people from the area, whose stories are embedded within the objects.

The murals are available to view now and to discover more about Abad’s practice, please see here.  

A House for Artists – Breaking Ground

Tuesday, 08 September 2020

Piling work on the new House for Artists started in the heart of Barking last week. The development on Linton Road will be home to 16 artists in 12 homes and features ground floor studio spaces for the artists as well as a community-focused space. The project is part of Barking and Dagenham Council’s plans to support home-grown talent and to attract artists and creatives to the borough.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Deputy Mayor for London, Justine Simons, and Hadrian Garrard, Chief Executive of Create London, turned up to break ground. Of the project, Cllr Rodwell said: “The House for Artists is a truly exciting project, providing a home for artists who are prepared to involve local people in their creative work.

The House for Artists will be rented out at 65% of the market-rate, and artists will run workshops, programmes, and activities with local artists and the community to develop creative industries and creative works locally. The development will be built on behalf of the Council by Create London, Be First, and Murphy Group. Read more about the project here and discover the artists here

Pio Abad and the Kilburn High Road – submissions wanted

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Do you have a connection to the Kilburn High Road?
What ornament occupies a pride of place in your home?
What lives have these ornaments lived?
What stories do these ornaments tell?

As part of his upcoming mural commission as part of the Brent Biennale, leading British-Filipino artist Pio Abad is asking local residents to donate images and the stories of ornaments that have significance to their lives. Do you have an object in your home you would be willing to photograph as inspiration for the mural Abad is painting in September 2020 on the Kilburn High Road? Does it have a poignant meaning relating to family, history, place or memories that you are happy to share?

If you do and would like to participate, we would love to hear from you! For either more information on the project or to send an image of an object please email or send us a direct message on Instagram.

Images: Heirlooms from Casa Latina and the Patel Family, with their respective drawings

Artists announced for the first Brent Biennale

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture is presenting the first Brent Biennial taking place in public spaces, libraries, and streets across the Borough, from 19 September – 13 December 2020.

The programme includes 23 new commissions and projects that will be presented in locations across the Borough and features international and Brent based artists. The Create curatorial team are working with artists Pio Abad and Dawn Mellor to help realize two major works in the Kilburn High Street and the Kingsbury Library and High Road.

Pio Abad, Every Tool is a Weapon if You Hold it Right No.37, 2016, Unique acid dye print on silk twill, 100 x 100cm

Pio Abad
Pio Abad will launch his first permanent public artowkr as part of the Brent Biennale 2020. Abad will create a large-scale mural on Kilburn High Road that depicts personal, significant and idiosyncratic objects/ephemera collected from residents that live in the area. Kilburn’s rich history of migration as well as, today, being home to people from a number of countries including, Ireland, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Turkey will inform the work.

Abad is interested in the lives of objects. He looks at them as carriers of narratives, each one able to contain an entire collection of histories, geographies and emotional journeys. The value of an ornament is often reliant on the narrative that it holds: as a souvenir of a place, as an heirloom from an ancestor long gone, as a reminder of a milestone in someone’s life, even as a private joke shared between family members.

Dawn Mellor’s Studies of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley (1984-85).
Courtesy of the artist

Dawn Mellor
British artist Dawn Mellor has been commissioned to create their first permanent public artwork: a large-scale mural in Kingsbury, Brent, celebrating the life of singer-songwriter George Michael, who lived and went to school in the area. Co-commissioned by Studio Voltaire, Brent Borough of Culture 2020 and Create London, Mellor will create the nine-metre high artto be unveiled in September. A programme of free activities and learning programmes will take place with local schools that George Michael attended, as well as talks, walks and workshops.

Brent Borough of Culture
Brent is The Mayor’s London Borough of Culture for 2020. The programme explores the stories, art and emotions that hold life in Brent together, uncovering and celebrating the borough’s untold tales and unheard voices. To discover more about the Borough, please see the Brent 2020 website

Create London to seek a new Chair

Friday, 24 July 2020

Today we are announcing that John Studzinski CBE is to retire as Chair of Trustees this December. Create’s Trustees currently serve a maximum of nine years and our Chair reaches the end of his final term at the conclusion of 2020.

Our Board’s search for a new Chair, an open process, will be led by our Nominations Committee and we will be inviting applications through an open call. Details on the specification of the role and the application process will be released in the coming weeks.

We would like to take this moment to sincerely thank John for his dedicated service, leadership and his commitment to the organisation as our founding Chair.

Tony Elliott

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

We are deeply saddened by the news of Tony Elliott’s passing, last Thursday, 16 July following a long illness. Tony founded Time Out in 1968 and grew it into a major publishing firm covering events in cities around the world.

We were proud to have Tony as a trustee of Create London since 2012. In him, we found support, warmth, ambition, and boundless enthusiasm. Tony provided valuable insights for our work, equally interested in the game-changing big ideas and the tiny tweaks that made things work better. The last time we saw him was when he brought his dog to The White House garden party in August last year. He was a real friend and we will miss him terribly.

Time Out have announced that their first post-lockdown print magazine, on 11th August, will be a special issue dedicated to him. Read more about Tony’s remarkable life at Time Out and The Guardian

Our anti-racism pledge

Thursday, 02 July 2020

In early June, Create released a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the campaign to end systemic racism and inequality against Black people. We recognise that a statement of solidarity is not enough, and that as an organisation we need to act now in order to bring about significant and long-term change. 

Social justice and working for equality are central to our values and we are committed to being an anti-racist organisation. We recognise that we have much more work to do to challenge structural racism and to pursue greater diversity and equality in all we do. This means reflecting on who we are as an organisation, how we work, who we work with and the projects we deliver. We acknowledge it has taken the global Black Lives Matter protests to make ending structural racism a top priority and that we could, and should, have acted sooner.

We will accelerate positive change on a structural level, and in this process, we include our board, our senior leadership team and our working and employment practices. We acknowledge the need to redress the underrepresentation of Black people as well as other minority ethnic groups across our staff,  leadership team and board.  We recognise this is not acceptable and we are now taking urgent action to improve representation across every aspect of our organisation.

By the end of July 2020, we will appoint an independent consultant to work with our staff and board to review our current practices and policies, as well as to highlight and respond to the specific barriers that Black people and other minority ethnic groups face in our sector. We recognise that we need support and expertise in making change and taking positive action against racism. With guidance and with the engagement of our board and team, we will develop and publish a detailed plan that will be based on a clear set of measurable actions, accountabilities and timescales against which we will be judged.

We are already implementing change and we will publish our plan after further examination of our structures, policies and practices. We will outline how we will undertake further work with our many community partners and stakeholders to build on this plan. We commit to reporting back on our progress in October 2020, and every six months thereafter.

This review will examine and agree recommendations that will include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  1. Establishing an anti-racism working group, spanning our staff and board.
  2. Anti-racism will be a standing agenda item for board and team meetings.  
  3. Changes to the make-up of our board and senior leadership team over the next 18 months. We recognise we need to transform as an organisation to reflect the communities we serve in terms of ethnicity.  
  4. Support for all staff and board to engage in anti-racist learning. For staff, this will be within working hours and resources and space for discussion will be provided. 
  5. Reviewing the nature and frequency of mandatory training in unconscious bias for staff and board.
  6. Strengthening and changing existing recruitment measures to improve representation, development and pathways for staff.
  7. Addressing how to build greater provision for Black-led and grass-roots organisations into future fundraising. 
  8. Formalising our curatorial policies in regard to providing more opportunities for Black and other minority ethnic artists and creative practices.
  9. Amplifying and expanding our project initiation process to ensure that our critical and ethical voice underpins all our work.
  10. Establishing a new fundraising and partnership policy that ensures we only work with funders and partner organisations who share our values and have a firm stance on anti-racism and anti-discrimination.

We recognise this pledge is only the beginning, and that we have significant work to do. Our pledge and intentions are part of a global systemic change in how we can achieve greater equality. We will ensure our work has meaningful impact as part of this movement. 

We welcome your questions or comments as part of this process. Please contact us on

Black Lives Matter – actions

Tuesday, 09 June 2020

Following from our statement last week, we want to talk about Create as an organisation, as well as some actions we are taking.

We are a relatively young charitable organisation. We have existed for nine years and during this time and going forward, we continually review our policies on equity and diversity across our programme and recruitment.  As well the artists we commission, we want to have a board and a team that reflect the communities with whom we work.  We recognise that we have much more to do to achieve this.

We are acutely aware that the arts workforce shows less socio-economic, ethnic and disability diversity than almost any other sector. Data from the Panic! report shows that only 2.7% of the workforce of museums, galleries and libraries are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. The numbers are not much better in the performing arts, visual arts, film, television and radio.

Our board currently has two vacant positions, for which we are seeking to recruit from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. We are now accelerating the process for filling these positions.  

At Create, around two thirds of our team are white, and we want to address this under-representation.  We take positive action on under-representation in our recruitment processes and will prioritise this in two new roles we are advertising this summer

We know this is just the start and see these actions as small but necessary steps towards improving who we are as an organisation.

Black Lives Matter

Thursday, 04 June 2020

We stand in solidarity with black communities in the UK and across the world, and with those protesting the murder of George Floyd. 

We stand against racism in all forms and accept that we have a duty to do more to actively support racial justice.

Structural racism continues to be embedded across our society and is prevalent in the creative industries, of which we are part.

We continue to asses our work, who we are as an organisation and as individuals and we seek new ways we can become more active in the fight against racism, and will be highlighting some of the concrete actions we are taking as an organisation in the coming weeks. 

But we know we need to do more and to do better. 

We encourage our partner organisations, our families, our friends and colleagues to spread awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement by donating, learning, listening and changing.

Resources: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six

April News

Thursday, 09 April 2020

Dear Friends,

What a time this is for us all.

Working away from each other has been such a change for everyone at Create. Our programme and the practices of the artists we work with are inherently social.We depend on togetherness and person-to-person connections – things which are all so suddenly absent.  For us, work usually takes place on housing estates, in parks, playgrounds, factories, former farmhouses, potteries, libraries and workshops. The impossibility of being able to come together is felt not just by our team and the artists we work with, but by the many community members we support and collaborate with.

We are, like everyone else, learning and adapting. For us, this means finding new ways of connecting with artists and communities, embedding participatory and collaborative approaches into remote and digital working, and finding ways to continue that seem relevant and make sense. However, we know it’s not as simple as carrying on as usual or moving everything online. We are committed to supporting and paying artists to make work in this period and we know that art can continue to bring a sense of possibility and comfort.

For now, we have closed The White House, Open Access at Rabbits Road Press is on hold, our programmes in Park Royal and Waltham Forest have paused and we’ve stopped making pots with young people at Hoxton Gardenware. 

The projects we’ve commissioned and supported over the years have their own challenges too. Baltic Street Adventure Playground is closed and we can’t help feeling sad for the many children and parents who have come to rely on that special place. Blackhorse Workshop is closed for now and the sounds of drilling, cutting and sanding have fallen silent. Associates at Open School East will see their year of learning in Margate extended and this year’s Walthamstow Garden Party won’t be happening.

We look to our collaborators and the wider Create community for inspiration. Company Drinks are doing an amazing job staying in touch with the many residents they work with in Barking and have produced great resources for safe outdoor activities. The commitment to overcome what we’re going through and to support people has been so clearly expressed by our communities, artists, partners, collaborators and other organisations, and makes us hopeful and proud to work with such imaginative, dedicated and resilient people.

For now, we’re focussed on staying in touch with the members of our local communities for whom many this is a particularly difficult and lonely time. Some don’t have access or experience of using computers, others live in especially difficult housing situations and we’re on the phone and using the postal service to stay connected, providing support where we can.

We are lucky to have projects and a programme that can continue during this time and we will be sharing more about these over the coming weeks. Next week, terracotta pots, fired just before lockdown and made by young people at Hoxton Gardenware will go on sale – the launch event and sales in local shops won’t happen for now, but we will be celebrating the achievements of these young people by selling online and delivering locally. Money made through the sale of the pots will go to all the talented people involved in this brilliant project.

Over the coming months, like so many others, we will be working reduced hours and adapting in order to survive. It is essential we protect our cultural and social infrastructure as much as possible through this crisis. It will be instrumental in bringing people and communities back together – to help rebuild on the other side of isolation.

We’ve got new programmes in Dagenham, Paisley, Brent and Park Royal planned for theAutumn and into next year and it’s this, and the certainty of being able to come together and make a positive contribution on the other side of this, that keeps us all going for now.

We hope you, your families, friends and colleagues are well and staying safe.

Hadrian Garrard, Director 

From Rebecca Davies, New Town Culture, 2019. Photo by Jimmy Lee. 

Create’s Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Create Team

Create has been closely monitoring national and international advice on the spread of coronavirus and has been taking steps to safeguard our participants, artists, partners and staff, especially the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Public-facing activities have been paused until further notice. These include The White House, Hoxton Gardenware, and our partners at Rabbits Road Press. The Create team are working from home and all meetings are being held digitally. We are all available by email –  please see the ‘About Us’ page on our website for contact details.

We are working on contingency planning for all our projects, continuing to plan and manage, postponing where necessary. Create’s work is rooted in collaboration and we are consulting with funders and partners on projects in Brent, Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Newham, Old Oak & Park Royal, Paisley and Waltham Forest to adjust timelines for delivery.  

Along with Arts Council England and colleagues in the sector, we aim to support the artists and freelancers we work with to continue their work on our projects as far as possible while keeping themselves and others safe, and will advocate for sector-wide approaches helping individuals and organisations in these particularly precarious and uncertain times.

Please see the helpful guidance from Arts Council England

The Making Of…You Are What You Eat 2

Friday, 14 February 2020

by Dunya Kalantery

In 2019 I devised and directed You Are What You Eat 2 with 40 eleven year olds from Earlsmead Primary School, Tottenham. Both seasons were the outcome of a 2-year project, built on learnings from Chicken Town – a childhood obesity intervention that ran from 2015-2017, and a particularly close relationship with the teachers and students of Earlsmead Primary School. 

The aim was to create a peer-to-peer health and wellbeing project, putting children’s voices at the heart of a discussion about their own health. Health which, from my perspective, encompasses physical, mental, and social wellbeing, security in identity, environment and community. 

While it is acknowledged widely that obesity is a complex issue, my experience of the cultural analysis of contributing factors were that they were frequently based on assumptions (for example, that children from deprived areas were unfamiliar with vegetables), muddling a public health crisis up with a fat-phobic culture, and making too little space for a deep understanding of the relationship between the political, social and individual decision making over an individual body. With an over-emphasis on ‘one’s own (individualised) body’, and a lack of nuance regarding who has the power to make genuine decisions about said body, and what empowers – or disempowers – those decisions. 

Over the years working within a childhood obesity intervention, I had been very frustrated with adult assumptions that they had the solutions for young people and childrens’ problems – solutions which were rooted in altering their behaviour, top down, without listening to their needs and desires and involving them in the design and decision making of interventions. To me, this at meant the interventions felt at best irrelevant to their target audience, and at worst disciplinarian, taking away the power from children that could be used to support confidence, determination and genuinely beneficial behavioural change. I don’t pretend to have any scientific answers for obesity, but I do know the importance of self belief and confidence when challenging adversity.

London communities and environments are going through precarious and difficult times, and children in places like Tottenham are feeling the brunt of it – both because of their histories and their present. If we want to create empowering, supportive environments for change in the face of this (seemingly unwavering) precarity, without having the power to transform the political and economic environment, we need to do so by recognising, de-stigmatising and reinforcing what the children do have – in their communities, families and environments – so that they can stand strong in accessing their personal material and their resilience as fuel to push themselves further than precarious environments might allow, to create change for themselves. 

It goes without saying  that children are hilarious and intelligent creatures that have an enormous capacity to learn, and comprehending how their behaviour has an effect on their own lives and environment is a vital part of their development and building resilience. And so, I decided to make two series of films with the children of Earlsmead Primary School, so that they could represent themselves, and see how much they contribute to their culture and environment. Expanding conversations with them about health beyond eating salad and excercising, to understanding how their culture, their environments, their communities and their bodies support them in being healthy.

Having seen the outcome – both on and off screen – of You Are What You Eat 1, I knew I was right about the self-affirming potential of the project. And so for this recent series I was determined for it to be a child-led process. In the first year, I set the overarching content and structure, with multiple spaces for the children to devise their own skits and stories. For the second series, I began the process by asking the children to interview each other on the issues that were most effecting them at the time. We then went on walks in the local area, taking photographs, collecting found objects and buying ingredients from the South Asian, Carribean, African, Latin American and Turkish shops surrounding the school. These images, objects and ingredients formed an archive, through which the children told stories about themselves. We related those stories back to the issues that were said to be most facing 11 year olds to create the form and content for the episodes, and then collaboratively devised, filmed and edited each episode with a team of storytellers, actors, set designers, producers and editors. 

The process was a dialogical one – with me creating structure, reacting and responding to the children’s ideas, and then feeding structure back to them. At times it worked better than others, and I was able to see clearly that my own ideas were creating structure for the children, rather than being imposed on them – a tricky line to tread when aiming towards a pre-conceived outcome.

I was working with far more children than before, with less of the incredible support I was used to available from the school – thanks to a three-form entry year and the inevitable strain this put on already stretched resources. This meant a lot of time managing groups and schedules, which very honestly led me to being too wired to build equal relationships with each of the children and to respond as well as I had to small nuggets of genius and humour. I felt very much what teachers struggle with constantly, and was even more admiring of them than ever. And what I learnt from this process was that, while I am – we all are – enabled by the community I am part, I am also limited by it, and I can’t expect to successfully break the boundaries of those limits, Guinness world record in hand, without being effected by them too. 

Watch the films here.

Unmasking hidden histories – by Shereen Lafhaj

Wednesday, 08 January 2020

If there is an unfortunate characteristic of Londoners, and believe me there aren’t many, it’s that we often don’t know much about the history of areas that aren’t our own. London’s North, South, East, West divide looms large enough that just going to another part of the city can seem like a mission let alone immersing yourself in its background. The polished blanket history of London is one we are all too happy to accept, as local stories of inequality and activism that still impact our lives today are left bubbling under the surface.

As a West Londoner I always took it for granted that the history of my area was relatively well known compared to others. Watching people make the effort every year to get to Carnival, reading the annual news articles on its origins and going to school in the richest borough in the country instilled within me a sense of comfort. I knew lots about my local history, my home and resultedly myself. So when I signed up for Activating Newham, and prepared to help produce an exhibition on its history of anti-racist activism, I did not have a real personal connection to the discomfort of such important local histories being hidden. 

The first Activating Newham session I attended was an arts workshop where we were tasked with making blue plaques to wheat paste onto boards. These plaques were to be based on an aspect of Newham’s history, information on which lay about the room. It was here that I first discovered the Newham 8, eight Asian youths who defended themselves against plainclothes policemen in 1982. Their story was one of a number that particularly resonated due to significant modern relevance. As I later learned of an anti-racist school strike in the borough, numerous articles I had seen questioning the validity of current youth activism came to mind. This hidden local history was proof that youths in London have long been subjected to varying forms of violence and rebelled against this. Ignorance of these stories had allowed a modern lack of understanding. 

The arts workshops became some of my favourite parts of the Activating Newham project, largely because the forms chosen were absolutely relevant to the themes being discussed. If you are outraged by essential histories being ignored, why not make versions of the most iconic memorials in London and learn how to stick them up around the city yourself? When you are feeling proud of the work done by activists who came before you, come and make badges to wear this pride. Not only did the workshops allow us to create beautiful pieces for our final exhibition, they were an important method of documenting an emotional response to the history being explored which at its core dealt with difficult everyday lives. 

The other main section of the project was a series of panels in which activists from the area, both historical and contemporary were invited to come and share their experiences of anti racist activism in the borough. These sessions provided an indispensable insight into the lived experience of NMP and how the issues the project addressed are still being tackled today. Many of the Newham Monitoring Project speakers who attended were still involved in similar work and were happy to talk about their experiences and answer our eager questions. I admit I did lament not getting to talk to more former NMP members, particularly those who had not since been involved in any activism. Unfortunately, with pre-organised speakers and events laid out there was no great scope for building relationships with less willing potential speakers. The panels we did have remained fascinating. As Dr. Adam Elliott-Cooper spoke of knife and gang injunctions currently affecting disadvantaged youths, it was one of many moments in which I was struck by how vital these discussions were for preventing stories from being buried.

My early incredulity during Activating Newham arose from the revelation that the history of a borough which had set precedents for the rest of the country (first to evict a family from council housing for racism et cetera) was not even known to someone from the other side of the city. I have since fixated on what we can do to end this. How do we ease the discomfort this erasure causes? It is my opinion that even on this dedicated project we have not had enough time to make a serious dent in the amount of uncovering and sharing necessary. A tight schedule meant that our curatorial steering group only had a few meetings to plan our final exhibition and the incredible final film was made separately with no real opportunity for our input. However, what we did produce with our final exhibition was an engaging and informative space in which important stories were given their due prominence. It has encouraged me to continue spreading Newham’s legacy and tackling the issues that strip London communities of their histories.

“A guard against apathy” – my experience of Activating Newham by Allissa Tai

Friday, 22 November 2019

(c) Kay Stephens

Over a period of 8 months, Create London hosted a series of talks and workshops centering on the history and work of anti-fascist activism in Newham. I was excited to learn more about this history, not only due to my own interest in social justice, but as a lifelong resident of Tower Hamlets. I was already vaguely aware of local movements against fascists, such as the Battle of Cable St in 1936. However, the extension of this history into the recent past was something I was still unaware of. 

At the first session, the participants discussed our desire to learn more about local histories. We were a group made up primarily of women of colour, with personal commitments to politics and society. We spoke of having a deeper and broader understanding of modern American history with regards to anti-racist activism, with figureheads such as Martin Luther King dominating the public imagination. This highlighted two issues – the failure of education within the United Kingdom, as well the US-centrism of race discourse. This is bolstered by the investment the UK and Europe have in externalising the ‘problem’ of racism, thus deflecting attention from domestic institutional racism. Our history lessons may cover Tudor monarchy, but the silence around an important part of British history was deafening. We knew of Rosa Parks, and we knew about Henry VIII’s wives – but what of those who were on the frontlines here, in our own backyards? How do we begin to rectify the erasure of those who fought for rights and protections? I saw this project as the beginning of an answer, and the lessons imparted as an ongoing dialogue between the present and our contested history. 

Newham has been home to Asian and African-Caribbean communities since the 1950s. Following the end of the Second World War and the break up of the British Empire, the UK saw an influx of migrants from former colonies. South Asian and Caribbean communities could be found throughout the country as the economy relied heavily upon their labour. Despite their importance to postwar recovery, Asian and African-Caribbean people were subject to racial discrimination in all spheres of life: housing, employment, education, social life and the streets. 

Discrimination was institutional, woven into the structures that provided the basic requirements for living. For example, in 1975, Newham councillor Bill Watts openly admitted that Newham council had changed their housing policy in order to avoid housing Asian families. In our first session, two members from the Newham Monitoring Project told us of the rampant violence that Asian and African-Caribbean people faced, all within the near vicinity of where we were gathered at Old Manor Park Library. We learned of how the police and judiciary system worked to deny that racism motivated the violent attacks and murders of people such as Akhtar Ali Baig, the Virk Brothers, or the 10-year-old Kennith Singh. Self-defence against racist violence received sentences harsher than convictions of racist murders. It was up to local communities to come together and effect change.

The murder of Akhtar Ali Baig sparked a huge community response. The Newham Youth Movement formed, and around 2,500 people marched in protest. A second march had 5,000 people in attendance. Eventually, the judge serving on the Ali Baig case finally admitted that racism motivated the attack. As part of the series, we had Unmesh Desai and Jasbir Singh, both of whom were involved with these movements to come in and talk to us. This was a reminder of how recently these events occurred. 

Jasbir Singh, Liz Fekete and Unmesh Desai at Activating Newham Event © Leyla Reynolds

But what of the role of women in local activism? Without an understanding of gender injustice, anti-racist movements will always be lacking. However, during this era of rampant activism, feminists fought to meet the specific needs of Asian and Black women. Gulshun Rehman, as part of Asian Women’s Project was instrumental in opening the first Asian women’s refuge in the country (Lambeth) before opening the second in Newham. She delivered a talk alongside Lola Olufemi, a member of Sisters Uncut. Sisters Uncut had taken over the visitors’ centre of the closed Holloway Prison in order to protest the land being sold for luxury homes. Sisters Uncut repurposed it as a community centre, which remains occupied today. This serves as a reminder both of the efficacy of direct action, but also the constant and ongoing fight for women’s rights, and how they’re connected to many other issues – domestic violence, the carceral state, homelessness, poor housing policy.

Throughout this series Daikon and OOMK ran workshops. As part of this, we made alternative blue plaques. This was a response to the blue plaques that can be found around London, denoting areas of historic significance. We also had the chance to learn how to making risograph collages from photocopies of ephemera provided by the Institute of Race Relations. These workshops provided a space for discussion and memory as we reflected together over the materials.

It is important to know the history of where we are – it helps guard against apathy and activist burn out. When remembering what has been achieved, it is a reminder of how powerful grassroots politics is and still can be.

-Allissa Tai (2019)

Activating Newham is a Create London project, in partnership with the Institute of Race Relations and Rabbits Road Press.  It has been supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“Do you want a cup of tea?” – Learning from The White House

Thursday, 18 July 2019

by Susanne Burns, Evaluation Support Consultant

Back in late 2017, when I was asked to work with Create London to develop and support their approach to evaluating The White House in Dagenham, I was intrigued. Here was a project that I had not heard of – an artists’ house on the Becontree Estate in Dagenham which was the largest social housing estate in Europe when it was built almost 100 years ago. This was different, exciting and appealed to my need to be constantly challenged.

(c) Emil Charlaff

My initial conversations with the team took place by Skype and I remember being blown away by their openness and determination to embed reflection and learning into the work they were doing in the House and to use it to inform the project as it moved forward. This approach resonated with my own approach and we began working together in early 2018.

Our learning is already rich and is informing the programme in an iterative way. It is being drawn from largely qualitative data gathering – which sounds technical but it really isn’t. It is a joy to visit the house every couple of months and catch up with Dave who is the caretaker, to meet with the poet Terry who is also one of the leading “Keepers” of the House, chat to 19-year-old Aislinn who tells me they have been accepted for University and to meet Paul, Colin and Melody who have been working in the garden.  Their stories tell us about the impact the house is having on the people who use it, who drink tea in its kitchen, who answer the doorbell and who will tend its community garden now it is completed. Alongside this, I have had the privilege of meeting with some exceptionally committed artists who have taken up residence for periods of time in the house’s studios and bedrooms. We have discussed socially engaged art, their own practices and approaches and the impact of working in a domestic environment on their art. 

The house is a domestic space – it has a living room, bedrooms, a garden and a kitchen. The community of people who engage with the space is growing, the programme of activity is being co-created with those that wish to access it and the team who run the house are seen as equals. Artists become temporary community members and traditional boundaries and hierarchies are challenged: “….. living and working with people in The White House makes the usual boundaries less distinct. I have visited a lot of people’s houses and have some understanding of the neighbourhood and the nature of the community as a result. I’ve made close friends with a lot of people.”

(c) Emil Charlaff

What is it that the house has that nowhere else has, that keeps them coming back? It is safe, open and inclusive, it provides a social space. In the words of one regular, “It is a home with a history. A house where artists live upstairs and where there is a kitchen and a programme of workshops for local people downstairs. A friendly atmosphere where the first thing you get asked as you come in ‘do you want a cup of tea?’ A garden with events. Not a gallery or an arts centre …. ”

(c) Emil Charlaff

Importantly, the long-term aim is to work towards a bespoke company model and governance structure that transfers decision making to the community. This will not be an easy journey but is already proving rewarding and is generating a great deal of learning. In the words of a local artist: “For too long, there had been projects here but they would end and there was no legacy. People took things with them. The White House can be a legacy in itself.”

In working towards The White House becoming a truly different kind of space which doesn’t emulate the traditional institutional practices of the art world, there are many challenges. Fairness and transparency, open communication and working in non-hierarchical ways whilst balancing governance and accountability, enabling different voices to be heard whilst working inter-generationally and inter-culturally all requires careful orchestration, careful questioning of ‘the way things are run’ and the traditional practices of running an arts space. 

The White House is different – it potentially represents a new kind of arts space in a community and this requires new approaches to both day to day and strategic management, project planning and facilitation and curation. It is challenging hierarchies, exploring approaches to co-creation and community driven provision and decision making and this requires an openness and honesty from the team as well as the organisation who are ultimately accountable for it. What is being achieved – and what can potentially be achieved – takes – and will take – time and trust and phased approaches to generating ownership and localized empowerment. This is no quick fix.

(c) Emil Charlaff

Getting to know the Create team and their ethos has been exciting and our learning journey has developed into a shared one. We are seeking to use the evaluation of The White House to inform the wider Create London programme, to explore approaches that might be transferable and to develop capacity across the organisation. We are also seeking to find ways to share our learning with the wider sector and to create opportunities where we might learn from others doing similar work.  Why keep it to ourselves? 

Read Susanne’s Interim Evaluation report here.

“How finding participants becomes a work of art”

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A report on the experiences of the artist in residence, Wouter Osterholt at The White House – Residency period November 2017 – April 2018

During my stay in Dagenham, I concentrated on the neighbourhood around The White House; the Becontree Estate, once the largest social housing estate in the world but today a large London suburb. My proposal dealt with the huge contrast between the utopian ideals from the time before the construction of the estate and its dystopian reality of today, as Dagenham is known, amongst other things, for its social isolation and low levels of civic participation. These issues seemed particularly important as the organisers of the residency were looking for an artist who could “create encounters with new constituencies” and who would be able to “meet local residents in Dagenham”. At first these objectives didn’t seem impossible but I soon discovered that in Dagenham these things are nothing less than an utopian undertaking in itself. 

As soon as I learned more about the history of the Becontree Estate, I found out that the lack of social cohesion is nothing new and even intrinsically linked to the planning of the neighbourhood itself, almost a hundred years ago. I would even go as far as to argue that one of the reasons for the construction of social housing estates like the Becontree, and there were undoubtedly many reasons, was social isolation. It’s not coincidental that the start of the construction of the Becontree Estate began only a year after the founding of the Communist Party in 1920. The majority of its voters were located in the overcrowded inner-city slums and the fear for a revolution was so big that these neighbourhoods had to be cleared. People from the slums had to find new accommodation and eventually got dispersed over to the new settlements in the periphery of the city. Social housing was part of a large-scale social engineering scheme that would reorganise society after the devastating impact of the first world war. I believe that this violent rupture can still be traced within the Becontree estate of today. 

From its beginning, the estate had to deal with the lack of social cohesion and the absence of proper community life. In an attempt to stimulate a controlled form of civic participation, the NECC: New Estate Community Committee was founded, which promoted a community association on every new estate. The Becontree Estate was made a priority. The NECC believed in education in citizenship and tried to stimulate involvement in local politics. The emphasis on local engagement was important, because there was a growing concern that new uniformity would lead to the coming of a dangerous ‘mass society’ in which the ‘undifferentiated’ mass would present a new political and social threat. Therefore, the NECC established several community centres throughout the estate in an attempt to ‘re-educate’ the working-class tenants. The committee saw themselves as enablers who would provide incentives so that the civic spirit would spring spontaneously from the hearts and minds of its citizens. They believed tenants would have enough leisure time and that they could spend time to work for the community but in reality, people were too busy commuting back and forth to their jobs in the city. Some even needed to work double shifts in order to be able to pay for the high rents. Due to a lack of success, all the community centres where eventually closed and the paternalistic attempt to ‘re-educate’ the residents failed miserably. 

As difficult as it might have been a hundred years ago, it might have become even more difficult during the last decades. Many traditional structures have been replaced by more impersonal relations and social lifehas been hugely influencedby social media. Nowadays, people show more trust in their Instagram followers, Facebook friends or Tinder partners, than in their own neighbours. This indifference to the public realm has opened a dangerous void, which ultimately has led to a political and social crisis as feared by the NECC. It’s not surprising that the borough of Barking and Dagenham was one of the five London boroughs (from the 32) that voted to leave during the Brexit referendum in 2016. But what can we learn from the mistakes made by the NECC and how can The White House offer a more inclusive approach? How can we reach out to new constituencies without becoming fanatic missionaries or paternalistic teachers? 

With these questions in mind I started my project ‘Beacon Tree’. The idea was to develop a participatory project in which I would work together with a group of students from a nearby art college in order to engage local residents in a more spontaneous manner. The plan was to make an illustrated ‘ideological travel guide’ to the Becontree Estate in order to rediscover the Utopian ideals that influenced the design of the estate, such as the idea of the ‘Garden City’, a revolutionary idea from Ebenezer Howard. The book’s aim was to re-imagine the benefits of establishing new sustainable and socially just communities. For the illustrations of the book, I proposed the format of an ‘en plein air’ workshop (the act of painting outdoors) that would take place in public space, so we would be able to meet residents and include their feedback on the design of our reimagined reality.

In the first week after my arrival in Dagenham I presented the idea for the workshop at the local art college and thought I had found a group of interested students. A week later we would come together at The White House to start the production. I had prepared everything in detail and looked forward to getting started, but the students never showed up. When I called they said they had simply forgotten about it. Disillusioned and stressed about losing too much time, I presented the proposal at a local community festival, called ‘Festival for EveryOne’, in the hope of finding participants for the workshop. Despite its promising name, only one person showed up. Frustrated with the situation I decided to skip the idea of setting up a collaborative workshop and I started working on my own. I took the easel and began painting outside on the street. 

I hadn’t painted for almost 20 years but luckily my painting skills were still convincing enough to attract the attention of passers-by. People would stop their cars in the middle of the road to see what I was painting. I had a young guy approach me while his car was left in the middle of the street, with a running engine and music still playing, others would just simply roll down their window to shout for how much I would sell the painting. Children would run towards me shouting “An artist, there is an artist!”. Or people would stand beside me silently, looking over my shoulder. Others would take selfies with me, post Instagram stories or offer me a cup of tea. I had a boy come up to me with a folder filled with his own drawings and an older lady who had gone back home to bring me a framed painting that her daughter had made before she had chosen not to become an artist and study medicine instead. I had a realtor approaching me if I could paint the houses he had sold or another person who asked if I could paint at his wedding ceremony. Everybody approached me for different reasons but they were all amazed to see somebody taking the time to make something authentic with concentration and dedication. Why did I choose to paint in Dagenham, they asked. Why in a neighbourhood that isn’t particularly famous for its beautiful scenery? 

I explained the concept to anyone who wanted to listen. I told them that I made those paintings in reference to the meaning of the name ‘Becontree’, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, an old manuscript record of the “Great Survey” completed by order of King William the Conqueror. Without giving too many historical details, I told them that the name ‘Becontree’ derives from the words ‘Beacon’ and ‘Tree’ and that Dagenham’s beacon tree is an example of what is called a ‘trysting tree’; trees that were meeting places for social, political and religious gatherings. The original tree, once located at what is now known as ‘Becontree Heath’, indicated the location where early hundred meetings took place. The name was then reused by the architect of the Estate, G. Topham Forrest in order to provide the new settlement with some historical continuity. The project proposed a re-enactment of this ancient tradition through a series of paintings of characteristic trees on the green corners in the Becontree estate. 

After each conversation, I asked the passers-by if they wanted to be included in the painting. If interested, I took their picture and added them to the paintings. I made a promise to come back in the next year to give them a copy of the finished painting. This way I collected many names and telephone numbers of people in the neighbourhood. A year after my residency had finished I called everyone and invited them for the final exhibition at The White House. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach everyone. Some numbers didn’t seem to exist anymore or were written down incorrectly. Out of a total of 80 participants, 20 people showed up for the opening. All received a printed copy and were able to meet the other residents. I asked everyone to sit together in the living room, effectively restaging the paintings that I had made. And finally, after a year and a half, I had managed to bring a new group of people together who had never been to The White House. Although it was a very inefficient way to find participants for a workshop, at least they had showed up and I could do my workshop. 

(c) Indre Neiberkaite

During a short presentation I explained about the phenomenon of trysting trees. One famous example is that of the Reformers’ Tree in Hyde Park in London, where an oak tree became the focus of protests in 1866 by the Reform League, a group campaigning to give all adult men the right to vote. After a few more examples I asked the participants to think of their own reasons why they could have gathered around the tree if the painting would have been real. For which ideal would they want to protest and gather? 

(c) Indre Neiberkaite

The people in the room gave several reasons. One said that they could form a ‘neighbourhood watch group, to “fight crime” or to set up a team of people to “clean up Dagenham, because we are proud of where we live”, after which a roar filled the room. Another person imagined the group to have gathered around the tree to save the trees that are in danger of being cut down. Another person wanted to come together in order to “save the vulnerable in the community”, whereas the person next to her said that she just wanted to organize a street party around the tree. One of the children agreed and wanted the people to dance around the tree. A man continued by saying that he had the wish to come together to “show unity despite our multicultural backgrounds” and “to show peace and harmony”. 

Furthermore, there were ideas to have people come together for an art class, “just to broaden your mind”, because all the people in the room already shared the fact that they were interested in the painting in the first place and thus already showed an interest in art. Then an older lady in the corner began to speak: “I’m probably the oldest person in this room who has lived here for over 60 years. There is a complete change of demographics nowadays. And it doesn’t pull people together, like how it used to be. There needs to be more activities that join people within the community.” She continues: “We have to rebuild the community, because we are losing it. And we need to understand each other more, I used to know my neighbours and now I haven’t got a clue”. I tell her that is one of the reasons we have gathered here today. 

(c) Indre Neiberkaite

Then I ask the last person that remained silent the whole time. I ask him: “Do you have a clue why you have gathered around the tree?” He answers: “It isn’t a great one but it looks like we are all waiting for something, we are waiting for something to happen, could be a concert or a speech, we are all looking in the same direction. Maybe we are looking at you for the answer”.

PODCAST: Space for the Self-Made

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Space for the Self-Made is a new podcast created by Issie Leigh and Jeng Au, members of our youth-led innovation lab, Interchange. The podcast addresses adversities felt by people of colour in the arts and creative industries through reframing the narrative focus from the negative and instead exploring the culture of resilience emerging among young London creatives.

The pilot episode gives a solid springboard as it traverses three major points of contention for young people of colour today; diversity and representation, the necessity of safe-spaces and economic uncertainty seen through the lens of young creatives who are “making their own creative space”.

Guests include musician and artist YaYa Bones, print publication for East and South-east Asian women and non-binary voices daikon* zine and audience members at The Cocoa Butter Club who showcase and celebrate performers of colour.

This work was supported by AHRC grant AH/P013155/1, ‘Who is missing from the picture? The problem of inequality in the creative economy and what we can do about it?’, funded as part of Panic! 2018.

City and Culture: Russia 2019

Thursday, 09 May 2019

In February 2019, our director Hadrian and head of architecture Diana spent three weeks in Russia, with Strelka Institute and the British Council, hosting workshops and lectures on City and Culture in 5 Russian regions, Vladivostok, a port city in the Far East; Perm, in Siberia; Voronezh, in the Urals; St Petersburg, the former capital and Baltic port; and Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave in Europe. 

Diana shares some of her highlights and lessons with us here:

We feel very lucky to have taken this journey across Russia. We’ve seen the sea at the east and west coasts of this vast country, met many inspiring people we hope to stay in touch with, and visited five very different cities. 

Hadrian adds:

For us this was an opportunity, on the 10th anniversary of our organisation, to share some of what we have learned in the UK and to learn from those that we met in Russia. We could reflect on our own practice and see it reflected back in over 20 pitches for projects and collaborations prepared by the participants. We feel that real projects will come out almost every workshop – in some cities we are hopeful that we may see up to three beginning as a direct result of the programme.

Participants in Perm, Siberia, developing a project pitch at Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (c) Olga Sorokina

They say that there’s a lot that they won’t be forgetting any time soon, and a lot that they learnt from the experience:

At the end of our lecture in Vladivostok, a Local Government official read out her mobile phone number to an audience of local artists, architects and activists and encouraged them to be in touch to explore collaborations. This was in response to an audience comment that the Authorities were hard to initiate dialogue with. We’ve spent so many years of our practice building up relationships with local authorities, and so to be able to start some of those relationships in Russia, that are so valuable to the work we do, was really special.

Vladivostok participants (c) Yuriy Smityuk

As is often the case, some of the participants most sceptical about the value of the workshop at the beginning became those who made particularly valuable contributions. An economics student in St Petersburg, a municipal officer in Kaliningrad, a poet in Perm, an architect in Voronezh and an activist in Vladivostok all come to mind as people who managed to really throw themselves into a programme which offered real freedom and challenged assumptions around what formal training can look like. 

One of the best things for us about the trip was how each workshop enabled us to achieve an insight into the cultural life of the city through a diverse and very interesting range of people. Looking at specific sites helped us to get a quick grasp of the specific issues facing each city; because people came at it from different disciplines this perspective felt rounded and was able to be discussed through the course of the workshops. It was a powerful and effective way of getting to know a place and its cultural sector – both for us and for many participants who remarked how surprised they were by the new conversations and issues raised by discussing and visiting sites. 

Voronezh seminar at the UAIG Cultural Centre (c) Kristina Brazhnikova

We learned that some things in Russia are not so different from the situation in the UK. Whether it was the frustrations around connecting with municipal authorities, the challenges around funding sustainable projects, connecting with new audiences in meaningful ways or the role culture has in shaping city development – thematic issues seem to carry from city to city and resonated with our own work in the UK. 

What is of course very different is the scale of the role of local Government and its relationship to the cultural sector. We struggle enormously with issues around cultural diversity in the UK context, whereas in all of the cities we visited participants identified two recurring challenges to launching new cultural projects or engaging with the current cultural offer: the lack of sufficient public transport and the lack of city-wide information about events or networks of cultural institutions. 

Participants in Voronezh working on a project proposal (c) Kristina Brazhnikova

These workshops were the first time we have condensed our methodology, based on ten years of work, into a short series of exercises. It gave us a chance to reflect on our own practice. Seeing it through the eyes of another place and other professionals is a good way of understanding our own methodology. We feel the experience has helped clarify and refine our own thinking, and we are grateful for this. 

We come away feeling thoughtful, humbled and inspired, and hope to pursue similar trips in future to share our portfolio of learnings from our 10 years of exploring the ways artists can contribute to city development. 

PRESS RELEASE: The White House, Dagenham announces its Spring Programme 2019

Thursday, 02 May 2019

The White House, a pioneering public space for art and social activity on the Becontree Estate in Dagenham, today announces its most ambitious Spring programme to date. As it continues to establish itself as a leading space for socially engaged artists to explore new ways of collaborating with suburban, predominantly working class communities, it welcomes a new cohort of artists in residence whilst continuing its busy Front Room Programme, curated for and by local residents.

In a major first for The White House, it will partner with the Serpentine Galleries and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham on Radio Ballads, which marks the anniversary of the 1970 Equal Pay Act and the momentum for change created by the Dagenham Ford sewing machinists Strike of 1968. The White House will support artist Rory Pilgrim’s residency, whose work is centred on emancipatory concerns, and aims to challenge the very nature of how we come together, speak, listen and strive for social change. This forms part of New Town Culture, a project that explores links between art and social care services, supported by the Mayor of London.

The White House welcomes Katie Schwab, who for the first time will collaborate with her father Ed Emery. They begin a one-month research residency this May, and develop a major project throughout the year, incorporating conversations, workshops and archival research to explore their shared interested in production, labour and family. Ed Emery has been documenting labour struggles in the motor industry since the early 1970s, and has an extensive archive which will be the starting point of the residency. Katie’s practice interweaves personal, social, and craft-based histories, often drawing from traditions of living, making and working collectively, exploring ways in which manual and social forms of production can develop within shared spaces.

Showdown Threat at Ford’s

International artist Wednesday Kim will carry out a one-month residency at The White House in May-June in partnership with Procreate Project & the Mothers Art Prize.  Kim is a multimedia artist whose work combines video, performance, installation, and sculpture. She hopes to connect with other artists and families who live and work in Barking & Dagenham to produce green screen performances and a new video work based on experiences and stories of birth and motherhood.

Verity-Jane Keefe, an artist who has worked in Barking and Dagenham for over ten years, will begin a year-long residency across the Becontree Estate through 2019 in partnership with Create London and The White House. Verity’s residency will produce a series of new artworks in collaboration with residents that will lead into a larger scale programme for 2021 to celebrate the Becontree Centenary, marking 100 years since building began on what was once the largest social housing estate in the world. 

(c) Verity-Jane Keefe

The White House also launches two new opportunities this spring to support creative development for artists based in and around Barking & Dagenham as part of its new Make Room programme. Make Roomis a new creative development programme designed to make room for new voices and ideas in its programme, supporting under-represented groups to have agency within the arts and their communities. 

A finally, bringing a busy Spring programme to a close will be the completion of The White House’s community garden, Beacon Garden, which artist collective They Are Here has been working on with local residents since 2017, launching on 21 June for the Summer solstice. Formerly a car park, it is being transformed into a community garden that provides a ‘residency’ space for multiple species, mirroring The White House as a residency site for artists.

(c) Indre Neiberkaite

The White House was opened in 2016 following a renovation led by Create London and architects Apparata, who worked with London Borough of Barking and Dagenham council to turn the unused former farm house which designer Hardy Amies once called home, into a space that would be shaped by and for the Becontree community. 

Over the last 3 years it has developed a reputation as being a place where international, national and local artists and residents meet and work together, a place for socially engaged artist residencies to explore new ways of working in communities, and somewhere for community to come and meet their neighbours – who just happen to be artists. Alongside a busy residency schedule, The White House offers weekly Front Room Programme with and for local residents, including poetry, arts and crafts, social events and co-working. 

The White House is supported by London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and City Bridge Trust.

The Gran Bretagna (or; The Definite Article)

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Congratulations to Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler who have been announced as leading on the British Pavillion for the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale.  We were pleased to be shortlisted this year. You can read our proposal here, which we worked on together with our friends at Apparata and the writer and editor Seb Emina. The proposal centres around our mutual interest in the culture and architectural significance of British Public Houses, from Wetherspoons to pubs as community centres. 

The British Council are commissioners of the British Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia 2020.

Centenary celebration of Dagenham’s Becontree Estate wins National Lottery support

Tuesday, 09 April 2019

(c) Verity-Jane Keefe

We are thrilled to announce we have been awarded initial *National Lottery support to develop a year-long project marking the centenary of Dagenham’s Becontree Estate, in partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council, local residents, heritage organisations and artist Verity-Jane Keefe. 2021 will mark 100 years since building began on what was once the largest social housing estate in the world.

Living Together will take a critical look at the past 100 years of social housing through the lens of this hugely significant Estate. The project will put the Becontree Estate firmly at the heart of national and international conversations about the past, the present and possible futures for social housing.  Led by the voices of past and present residents, the project will embrace and explore the complexities of this large form suburban estate, which is still home to over half the residents of this London Borough.  The project will provide a platform for the individual spirit that can be found in every corner of the four-square mile footprint of the Becontree.

This project has received development funding of £ 74,700 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help progress its plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £448,000 later in 2019. London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has also received £29,750 of project grant funding from Arts Council England, for a year-long artist’s residency by Verity-Jane Keefe, producing work that will enrich the wider programme in the lead-up to 2021.  The architecture and scale of the estate is well known, but it is the more recent history – how housing policy, such as Right to Buy, has impacted the way that Becontree looks and what it is like to live in, today and into the future.

Living Together will be the largest creative heritage-driven social engagement programme to take place on the Becontree Estate. 

For local residents, groups and organisations wanting to get involved, please contact Verity-Jane Keefe:

Create London appoints Losal Chiodak as its Genesis Young Curator, supporting emerging curators from underrepresented backgrounds

Monday, 25 February 2019

Welcome to our new Genesis Young Curator, Losal Chiodak

We are thrilled to announce that Losal Chiodak has joined the team as our new Genesis Young Curator, a role supported by the Genesis Foundation.  Offered in partnership with Tate Britain and Chisenhale Gallery, Losal will spend three days a week working with us and, for the first six months, will spend the equivalent of one day a week with the curatorial team at Tate Britain, working on all aspects of the exhibitions and displays programme. For the subsequent six months, Losal will spend one day a week at Chisenhale Gallery, working on the organisation’s Engagement Programme.

By working across the three institutions, Losal will gain practical insight into the process of curating and producing ambitious art and engagement projects in a range of settings, both within and outside of a gallery context.  The aim of the role is to support Losal to develop in his career, build his knowledge of contemporary art and surrounding discourse, and establish new professional connections, including other young curators from a range of backgrounds currently underrepresented in the arts.

This year-long position responds to the acute lack of representation in the visual arts in the UK of young curators from diverse backgrounds which was highlighted in our ground-breaking Panic! report, published in Spring 2018. The Panic! report highlighted that of people working in galleries, museums and libraries, only 2.7% are from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

We hope this position will also encourage other organisations to create new, entry level roles for those from underrepresented backgrounds, to ensure routes in to the creative industries become as open and varied as possible.

Losal will start on 25 February and joins us from Counterpoint Arts, an organisation that engages with refugee and migrant experiences and expression, where he was part of their communications team.

Losal Chiodak says:

“I’m extremely excited to be joining the Create team and to have the opportunity to learn from new colleagues across the three institutions involved in this venture. I plan to make the most of this role and bring everything I can to this opportunity. I hope that I will be able to take and expand on the innovative ways Create considers participatory arts, and find new ways to give back to our local communities.”

Create Artistic Director, Hadrian Garrard, says:

“We look forward to welcoming Losal to the team here at Create London. We were blown away by the amount of applications we received for this post – a sign of how few and far between such positions are. We also hope more organisations will consider learning from Panic! and introducing further roles which address the systemic issues embedded in our industries.”

Harriet Capaldi, Genesis Foundation Managing Director, says:

“When the Genesis Prize was awarded to Hadrian in 2016 it began a discussion between us about the need for a programme that addressed the lack of training opportunities for young arts professionals from minority backgrounds. Hadrian devoted his prize money to starting Create’s first Young Curator Award programme and everyone at the Genesis Foundation is delighted that this programme has now been extended and that they’re partnering with Tate and Chisenhale Gallery.”

Since the publication of the Panic! report, authored by Dave O’Brien, Orian Brook and Mark Taylor, we have continued to look at ourselves and put its findings at the heart of our projects. It’s informing all our work, from the way we recruit staff and artists, to the type of projects we take on, whilst consistently making sure we share our learnings at every opportunity. In the 10 months since publication, the Panic! report has inspired podcasts, conferences, press campaigns, MP inquiries and more. Read the report here.

Create London heads to Russia

Monday, 28 January 2019

This week, Hadrian and Diana are heading to Russia for three weeks to host 5 seminars in 5 different cities, hosted by the British Embassy and the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design. We were invited by the British Council to lead seminars around the theme of city and culture, in the context of our 10 year history of exploring how art and artists can be a vital and more integrated part of London. We are happy that our work is recognised in this way and are looking forward to working with and learning from a range of organisations, architects and urban planners in Vladivostok, Perm, Voronezh, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad.If anyone is in these cities or knows anyone who is, please get in touch and come to the lectures! Details here:


The White House welcomes a new curator

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

We are hugely pleased to announce that Charlie Gregory will join the team as the curator of The White House this summer. She will steer the project, which is now well-established in the heart of the Becontree Estate, towards becoming an independent organisation, and will work with the community in Dagenham to develop a collaborative vision and future for the house. This is a huge step for The White House, and one we are incredibly excited about.

She will start with a residency in the autumn with the Barbican and local Sydney Russell School, as well as oversee the completion of The White House’s Garden, led by collaborative practice They Are Here.

Charlie joins us from The Newbridge Project, where she has been Director since 2013 and led the project towards achieving Arts Council NPO status. She has previously worked with ISIS Arts, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, AV Festival and Wunderbar.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Create, an organisation I greatly admire and respect, to take up the role of Curator at The White House. The role will allow me to pursue my passion for supporting artists to explore different models of collaborative arts practice embedded within a community context. The White House is unique in providing a space where artists and communities can experiment, think, play and ultimately create new ways art can form part of our everyday lives. I look forward to working with the communities of Barking & Dagenham to help develop a collaborative vision for The White House, creating an artistic and community resource with real impact.”


(c) Kuba Ryniewicz

OPDC launches Open Call for Artists’ Expressions of Interest

Wednesday, 09 May 2018

Together with OPDC, we are looking for expressions of interest from artists to develop and deliver a major new socially-engaged artist led project which uncovers, celebrates and showcases the industrial heritage of Park Royal by connecting it to the lived experience of its contemporary communities and businesses.

The project can take any form and we are open to ideas which encourage us to think about the heritage of Park Royal in new ways and that can respond to local socio-political themes and the wider London and UK context.

Proposals should clearly demonstrate how they will embed and engage local communities, artists, workers, businesses and/or schools throughout the process. Proposals should also describe how the work will be presented in a way which is fully accessible to a wide and diverse audience, both locally and from across London.

Commissions should start in Autumn 2018 and finish by Spring 2019, lasting a maximum of nine months with at least one public output expected in 2018.

Up to £50,000 is available, which includes all artist fees and production costs. Deadline is 10 June 2018.

Please read the full Open Call Pack for further details on the project and on how to apply.

Find out more about OPDC and the Great Place Scheme here.

Wouter Osterholt finishes his winter residency at The White House in Dagenham whilst Alice Theobald makes a welcome return to the community

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Today Dutch artist Wouter Osterholt finishes his winter residency at The White House, Dagenham, which sits at the heart of the Becontree Estate. Selected in collaboration with the V&A Research Institute (VARI), the Berlin-based artist took up residency in November 2017 for five months developing his project ‘Beacon Tree’. During his residency, he has been exploring the utopian origins of the garden city movement so as to re-imagine new models of communal living within Dagenham’s Becontree Estate, the biggest municipal housing project in the world when it was built in the early 20th Century.

Following Osterholt’s residency, artist Alice Theobald will return to The White House, following her residency in summer 2017. Her show, We May Believe Or We May Never Know, will open at The White House on 27 April 2018. It will be open every weekend until 27 May, and will include a performance event featuring the poets and musicians she worked with during her first residency, as well as a two screen video installation.

Read on here.

Create London statement in response to Common Wealth

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A statement by Create London in response to Common Wealth’s statement on the similarities between their performance work ‘CLASS the elephant in the room’ and Create London’s commission of Ellie Harrison’s ‘The Elephant in the Room’, which is nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence.

It is clear that all parties care passionately about the growing inequalities which divide our society and have extensive track records in research and active engagement attempting to address these. We therefore enter into resolving this issue with the spirit of solidarity that is required for us to build a fairer world.

In October 2017, Create London selected Glasgow-based artist Ellie Harrison from a shortlist to make a new work as part of Panic! 2018 It’s an Arts Emergency. Her proposal, with a working title ‘Power & Privilege (The Elephant in the Room)’, was devised as a response to a major new research paper on inequality in the creative and cultural sectors written by academics from the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield (due for release on 26 March 2018). This research builds on the well-known survey Create London initiated in 2015, Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?

From October 2017 – March 2018, Harrison has been working to develop her work with Create London’s team, and, on Friday 9 March she launched an open call for people to take part in a Power & Privilege Workshop in London on 14 April 2018 as part of the project.

On Saturday 10 March, Harrison received an email from Rhiannon White of Common Wealth alerting her to the similarities of her project with their work ‘CLASS the elephant in the room’. In her reply on Saturday 10 March, Harrison explained the provenance of her idea:

“Thanks for your message and the link! Yes, I see there are some similarities in the aesthetic and themes of the work. I was not aware of your project until now and derived my concept from my experience of doing Power & Privilege Workshops… when on the Campaign Lab course in London in 2013-2014. The elephant costume idea came to me from my Desk Chair Parade/Disco which I did in… Newcastle in 2011 and via a quote from Loki writing about my The Glasgow Effect project in 2016.”


“…people are actually annoyed at the big floppy-haired elephant in the green room: they are annoyed at rising social inequality and how this expresses itself culturally.” ―Loki writing on The Glasgow Effect in 2016

Harrison has not yet had a reply from White and is very keen to meet and discuss possibilities for collaboration in tackling the important issues they are both passionate about addressing in their work.

We acknowledge more diligence could have been given to researching the title of the work before its launch, however, as Loki’s quote (above) suggests, this idiom is often used to refer to social class. We are aware of another event addressing social mobility in the arts held at the Royal College of Art in 2015, which was also called ‘The Elephant in the Room?

In order to resolve this issue and ensure there is no further confusion with Common Wealth’s work, Harrison has decided to change the title of her project to ‘Power & Privilege’. She will be working over the course of this week to remove online references to the previous title.

Create London would also like to stress our full support for Common Wealth’s work. Create London’s drive to commission and publish this research is to create conversation and action around social mobility in the arts and are therefore happy to see that Common Wealth quoted the 2015 Panic! research in their report. We support any other work created in the UK to promote these conversations and address the issues the creative and cultural sectors face. We encourage Common Wealth to continue their important work.