EVERYDAY FUTURES is a new project celebrating the work of borough photographer, Egbert Smart & the local area, connecting his archive to the contemporary landscape of Barking & Dagenham, led by artist Verity-Jane Keefe. Six new audio guides, maps & walks are being produced by Verity to cover all corners of the borough, as both alternative local tour guides & artworks, making visible the everyday brilliance of Barking & Dagenham.
The public programme, running between May and July 2018, includes test walks, oral histories, film screenings, fanzine making workshops & archive sessions. Join us for some, or all to, join in with the conversation and follow the processes as they unfold.
The work is being informed and shaped by key themes that both Egbert Smart and Verity-Jane Keefe touch upon in their respective photography, research and art practice: Public life, Public Sector, The Municipal, Libraries, Museums, Industry, Everyday, Politics, Housing; past, present, future: art, research & heritage.
EVERYDAY FUTURES is a Heritage Lottery Funded project led by artist Verity-Jane Keefe in partnership with Barking & Dagenham’s Archives & Local Studies Centre at Valence House.
We will be walking, photographing, collecting & talking across six areas within the borough. These areas have been chosen based upon their individual characters, existing work carried out with The Mobile Museum and Egbert E Smart’s photographs. The areas cover all corners of the borough, but the final walks and accompanying audio guides will only take in a slice of each. These are not Heritage walks and guides as you know them – they take heritage as being both 300 years ago and 300 minutes ago, taking in the formal, informal, folkloric, mythologised and local myths to construct a multi layered journey through the borough. Allowing residents the opportunity to become tourists in the place that they live, and visitors a unique glimmer of the everyday brilliance of this ever-changing corner of Outer London.
The work produced – Maps, Audio Guides and more – will be exhibited as part of a touring exhibition that will be an addition to The Mobile Museum’s expanding collection, and will be accessioned to the borough’s archives and will be distributed locally and made available online.
Three photo-books are being produced by Verity featuring photos from the Egbert E. Smart archive alongside those taken by Verity over the past 13 years of working in the borough. The Egbert E. Smart archive is held at the brilliant Valence House Local Archives & Study Centre. 10,000 negatives have been digitised as part of this project. Do visit and explore the archive and wider collections.
Egbert Smart, 1907 – 1999 worked at Dagenham Public Libraries, Branch Librarian at Wantz and then at Rectory. He helped establish Dagenham Libraries as pioneering cultural and communty hubs. A talented photographer and film-maker, he was involved in the Dagenham Co-operative Film Society. He was also, perhaps most importantly, the Borough Photographer from 1951. Documenting the everyday, events, streets, people and place, the photographs he took offer a vivid portrait of Barking and Dagenham over the last fifty plus years.
The Mobile Museum is a multi-strand art project conceived, developed and delivered by artist Verity-Jane Keefe (with a lot of help and support from various people along the way).
The Mobile Museum was originally housed in a 2001 Ford Iveco Mobile Library van, which had been converted into a living, mobile archive for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. (2014 – 2017)
Used as a vehicle for exploring methods of classification, through commonplace library, museum and archiving standards, The Mobile Museum has created a new museum collection for the borough – gathering information, collecting, cataloguing and making along the way and offering a new insight into contemporary Barking and Dagenham, and its place within London and the wider Thames Gateway.
In 2017 The Mobile Museum was vandalised whilst parked up at Valence House, twice over a couple of days and was subsequently written off. The project still continues in a number of ways, via the production of a small miniature trolley Mobile Museum, the ethos and more. Verity is currently looking forward, identifying ways in which the ethos and spirit can continue without a vehicle, finding a suitable final home for the interior and remaining collection and by critically reflecting on the processes of production and delivery, including the vandalism as part of the work itself – through writing, making, collecting and documenting this more recent chapter.
The Mobile Museum Journey
Touring 12 housing estates, the Mobile Museum drove around Barking and Dagenham, stopping off for a series of making workshops and events along the way, with invited makers and experts: archaeologists, archivists, writers, architects, artists, scientists, local tour guides and many more.
Starting out empty in Becontree which when built was the world’s largest purpose built housing estate, The Museum worked its way around the borough, gradually filling up with found, deposited, mythologised and made objects and ephemera.
The Mobile Museum visited Becontree, Whiting Avenue, Scrattons Farm, Keir Hardie Way, Thames View, Marks Gate, Gascoigne, Goresbrook Village (site of), Heath Park, Harts Lane, The Leys and Ibscott.
The Mobile Museum had a crowd-sourced lending library on board, with books and publications donated from across the world on specialist subjects such as: the city, London, Essex, Art, Architecture, regeneration, local history and much more. It is free to join and operates on a trust basis. Verity is currently finding a new home for the Lending Library.
The Mobille Museum was funded via an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts, with additional help from 343 Kickstarter backers and a grant from Awards for All as well as support from the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham’s Regeneration and Heritage departments.
Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist working predominantly in the public realm to explore the complex relationship between people and place.
She is interested in the role of the artist within urban regeneration and how experiential practice can touch upon and raise ambitions of existing and invisible communities.
Working with moving image, text, object, installation and people.