WHAT IS THE MOBILE MUSEUM
The Mobile Museum is a 2001 Ford Iveco Mobile Library van, now in the final stages of being converted into a living, mobile archive for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Used as a vehicle for exploring methods of classification, through commonplace library, museum and archiving standards, this Mobile Museum will, over the course of 5 months, create 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.
THE MOBILE MUSEUM JOURNEY
Driving around the borough’s purpose built council housing estates, the Mobile Museum will be following a carefully-devised route 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 on Becontree which when built was the world’s largest purpose built housing estate, The Museum will slowly work its way around the borough, gradually filling up with found, deposited, mythologised and made objects and ephemera. Contemporary cultural activity across the borough will be documented, mapped and deposited in the collection; from galleries, to photography clubs, reading groups, knitting circles and jigsaw making clubs. All will be classified alongside the formal cultural activity across the borough, such as Eastbury Manor House, Studio 3 Arts, Valence House Museum, creating a new cultural taxonomy and map of the area.
An accompanying series of fanzines will be produced and distributed, one for each estate.
The whole of the Mobile Museum’s 5-month-long journey wwill be documented in a new filmwork surveying the borough’s varied housing stock, the residents’ stories, and a slice of contemporary life that will represent a moment in the area’s rich housing and cultural history.
PROJECT BACKGROUND + WHY BARKING & DAGENHAM
I have worked on various art projects in Barking and Dagenham, on and off for the last eight years. My work looks closely at the role of the artist within urban regeneration and how this can affect those living or working through it. I have worked closely on a number of the borough’s estates over these years, scratching the surface to reveal the often invisible stories and narratives.
My current practice exists predominantly in the public realm, and is an amalgamation of moving image, site based research, print and object. I am interested in the role that The Museum can play in contemporary art practice and as a tool for engagement through real and imagined histories and futures.
Previously I have produced two separate large-scale film commissions in the borough: “Rooms With a View” (2008) about the now demolished Lintons Estate and those that lived there; and “Legoland” focusing on Goresbrook Village, three tower blocks that bordered the A13 and the Becontree Estate. The Mobile Museum film will take themes explored in both of these works as its starting point, with the narrative being informed by the process of touring.
THE MOBILE MUSEUM COMMISSION
I was originally commissioned to develop a project that looked at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham’s new role (then, in 2011) as an Olympic host borough, added somewhat late to the party. This project became The Mobile Museum.
A successful Arts Council England Grants for the Arts was awarded, on the strength of the partnership and pledged match cash contribution from the borough’s art department.
In November 2012 I was informed that the cash contribution from the borough was no longer available due to the much wider public sector cuts that occurred nationally. Although the financing stalled I made the decision to deliver the project anyway, trying to secure the funding from alternative sources. Since then I have successfully fundraised a portion of the £10,000 deficit via a supporting project commissioned by the borough Regeneration Department which focuses on one of The Mobile Museum’s estate’s as well as ongoing support from the Museums and Heritage department.
Fast forward, and after eighteen months of planning, lobbying, securing advocacy, passing LGV driving tests, building the interior of the vehicle and much, much more, The Mobile Museum now finds itself almost ready to get moving, arriving in London mid August.
WHY BARKING AND DAGENHAM NEEDS ITS MOBILE MUSEUM
London is changing at a rapid pace and all eyes are looking East as the city expands and evolves. Barking and Dagenham have been subject to rapid regeneration over the last decade, large scale housing estates have been or are in the midst of being demolished, new housing being built. Alongside this have been various waves of public art schemes, some have been more widely integrated into the existing physical and social landscape, some less so. This project aims to use making and conversation as a starting point to explore these strands, imaging a Barking and Dagenham of the future. From discussions with the Borough Archivist and information collected from previous work in the borough I know one of the biggest problems that the museum and heritage services have is getting people from the housing estates to come to LBBD’s archives, museums and galleries. Arts has similar issues which are exacerbated by fragmented facilities for cultural activity. The main aim of this activity is to promote and share existing cultural activity across LBBD through the creation of a new piece of contemporary artwork. The project will seek to reach and engage with residents from across the borough, not just those who already actively seek out cultural activities.