Serpentine and London Borough of Barking and Dagenham will work with an Artist in Residence to collaborate with local communities on a new radio station in Valence Library.
Since 2019 Serpentine has partnered with New Town Culture on Radio Ballads, a series of collaborative artist residencies and commissions in Barking and Dagenham that examine the future and histories of care and work. In summer 2021, Serpentine and an Artist in Residence employed by the borough, will be facilitating workshops with local communities to design and create the Becontree Broadcasting Station for Valence Library. This project is supported by Barking and Dagenham Council for Becontree Forever, a programme marking the centenary year of the UK’s largest social housing estate.
Becontree Broadcasting Station is being established as part of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion and the accompanying programme Listening to the City. Pavilion architect, Sumayya Vally, has placed fragments of the Pavilion at sites across London that influenced her design. The fragment that is sited in Barking and Dagenham, will support the daily operations of the Becontree Broadcasting Station, and create a place for gathering and sharing of stories. The fragment was constructed to be used flexibly, as a single piece or divided into smaller elements. It honours the histories of places and people in the neighbourhood with its design and programming that engages with the communities in the surrounding area.
Becontree Forever is a programme of art, architecture and new infrastructure to mark 100 years of the Becontree Estate in 2021. The Becontree Estate is the biggest council estate in the UK and the most ambitious of the country’s interwar housing estates. The first of 27,000 houses for returning war heroes and working families were built on the four square-mile estate in November 1921, with the ‘Garden City’ houses and iconic ‘Banjo’ closes recognised across the world.
The centenary is an opportunity to celebrate the estate’s ground-breaking and radical beginnings, but also to reimagine Becontree’s future. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is committing to rebuilding the estate for current residents and future generations, starting with major investment in retrofitting, parks and transport and in extending Kingsley Hall (the estate’s first community centre) and purchasing Dagenham Heathway (a 1.3 hectare Eighties-built shopping centre on the estate).
Becontree Forever is led by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, in collaboration with residents and local partners such as the schools on the estate, Arc Theatre, Barking & Dagenham Youth Dance, East End Women’s Museum, Girls Like Us, Green Shoes Arts, Love Music Hate Racism, Studio 3 Arts, Soul and Sound and The White House and national partners such as Create London, EFG London Jazz Festival, Focal Point Gallery, Serpentine Galleries and the Wellcome Trust.
New Town Culture Radio Ballads is part of New Town Culture, a pioneering programme of artistic and cultural activity taking place in adult and children’s social care across the entire borough. This is a Cultural Impact Award winning project, part of London Borough of Culture, a Mayor of London initiative. New Town Culture responds to the incredible stories, knowledge and skills of the residents of Barking and Dagenham, delivering a programme of workshops, exhibitions, radio broadcasts, live performances and courses targeted at people using social care services in our borough. Working closely with social care professionals and artists, the project hopes to unlock the value of art and culture for all our communities. Its ambition is to support social workers and carers to try out new ways of working to enhance the brilliant work they already do.