18th March 2019
The White House presents Nanny Goat Common, a group show of photography by current students on the undergraduate photography programme at Barking & Dagenham College, in partnership with the University of East London (UEL).
Made in the documentary tradition, the photo-based works on display in the rooms of the White House are a visual response to the Becontree Estate, in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. The students have responded to the brief in many diverse ways that include exploring family history, WW2 bomb-site locations, churches…and Elvis.
Commissioned by the London County Council (LCC) the Becontree Estate was constructed between 1921 and 1935 and was the world’s largest social housing estate. Built on 3,000 acres of green belt land, around 26,000 new homes provided accommodation for around 100,000 people, including returning war veterans and those bombed out of their East London homes. As the estate was built over a period of 14 years, its appearance consists of various styles of architecture. Over the history of the estate the appearance of the homes has altered, largely through Margaret Thatchers’ Right-To-Buy scheme in the 1980s where residents could now own their homes for the first time and made them to look like they were not council housing. Notable residents included an ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Venables, Dudley Moore, and Alf Ramsey. Visitors to the estate included Mahatma Ghandi.
What was once a white British community when completed, the area has since provided settlement, permanently and temporarily, for a wide cultural denomination including African, Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian, and citizens from other EU countries. With the uncertainty of Brexit and free-movement in the UK, the future demographic of the Becontree Estate remains uncertain.
The exhibition, Nanny Goat Common is named after the common name given by local residents for the green outside the Civic Centre, the now Grade 2 listed former municipal building in Becontree Heath.
The final works are exhibited in the rooms of the White House, a working house in the heart of the community. Students were asked to consider how their photography may be displayed in a non-white cube space which alters how images are received and read by an audience.
The show features the work of students: Mergime Berisha, Baylea Burgess-Michaels, Ruby Chapman, Olivia McLaughlin, Gloria Mezzanotte, Gavin Rotherham, Catherine Rothschild, Rezija Samoska, and Helen Taylor. It can be viewed at The White House from 3 April – 1 May 2019 (The White House, 884 Green Lane, Dagenham, Essex. RM8 1BX +44 (0)20 8220 1172 or firstname.lastname@example.org, www.whitehouseart.org).