Elsa James, 2020
An after-school club with artist and activist Elsa James and foster families in Barking and Dagenham.
Based at social art space The White House Dagenham, whole foster families including carers, foster and birth children of all ages joined Essex-based artist and activist Elsa James for a weekly six month-long project.
The group met throughout the 2020 Covid lockdowns in online, in-person and postal sessions. Together they explored place, locality, home and identity and the past and present of the Becontree Estate in Dagenham. The Estate first started being built 1921 and came to be the largest council housing estate in Europe.
Using painting, collage and photography, they created a new flag which was unveiled on 14th August 2021 as a permanent beacon to The White House Dagenham. The flag was launched in a procession through the Estate with the whole group as part of Becontree Forever celebrating the Becontree Estate centenary in 2021.
Elsa James is an artist and activist. Her work intervenes in the overlapping discourses of race, gender, diaspora and belonging. Her solo works employ recollection and archives to examine the regionality of race and black subjectivity. Her social practice includes advocating for the inclusion of marginalised voices and communities in the arts sector. Her recent exhibitions and projects include WE STAND WITH YOU at Firstsite, 2020; Policy No. 1 Disrupt The Existing Narratives, Beecroft Art Gallery, 2020; Black Girl Essex, Here We Come, Look Me Here, Firstsite, 2020; Circle of Blackness, Furtherfield Gallery, 2019; Love in Social Practice, Going Places Festival, Cubitt and All Change, 2019 and Forgotten Black Essex, Metal Southend, 2018.