Dagenham Art is back

The Dagenham Art I wrote about last year is back with this new piece, called ‘Picnic’. The original post is below…

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DAGENHAM ART

Dagenham Art No.1. ‘Juxtaposition’ Aug’14

This piece is reflective of the local culture – the importance of brand labels in an area with limited incomes. The packages are vulnerable and open to the elements, yet sheltered by leafy pillars either side. Each bush has its own paper Primark bag to protect. The Nike box, however, is more exposed. Perhaps, by being stronger and well established, it can afford to exist without such protection. But with its confident orange shell, it draws our attention to the unassuming brown bags which may otherwise have gone unnoticed, thereby exposing them further.

And what of the contents. Is it simply the old and rejected in the discarded wrappings of the new or something more sinister? We’ll never know. This installation was on show for a limited period and is no longer available.

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Dagenham Art No.2. ‘Anonymity’ Sep’14

These bags of gifts were left for the taking in early September. Despite claiming to be an anonymous piece, it’s all too brief appearance so early in the year doesn’t fool us. With that infamous red and white branding, this is clearly Santa’s work. We look forward to seeing more from him later in the year.

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Dagenham Art No.3. ‘Black and Blue’. Dec ’14

This work has both sobriety and energy. There is something reassuring about the solid black bags sitting so heavily beneath the tree, yet the loose piece breaking free from the 3rd sack suggests drama and an insecurity in its desire to escape. The blue bag on the left juts out uncomfortably. It doesn’t seem to fit at all but despite being smaller than the black bags, demands our attention. Then what of the discarded tin to the right? It is so far removed from the rest of the work, one might wonder if it is even part of it. This is probably intentional and is, in fact, a clever distraction device, placed just far enough away to create discomfort as our attention is torn. This artist’s popularity is declining locally and critics have slated this piece as unimaginative and lazy, but is it simply misunderstood?

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21 again

Here’s another little repair from my family archive.

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This is my mum, sat on my Dad’s lap at her 21st birthday party. I love this photo.

And just for fun, here’s me at college, in a Maidstone cocktail bar, celebrating my 21st birthday. I haven’t got any photos of my actual 21st birthday party but it was a riot! It was in my student house and I had a jelly and ice cream party (in contrast to the grown up cocktails night out!). My room was on the top floor. There were four other bedrooms between me and the bathroom and kitchen at the bottom. I had a bean bag which I carefully hid on top of a cupboard out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, somebody found it and poked their finger into a tiny little gap in one of the seams. The hole got bigger and a few polystyrene balls escaped. Then a few more. Before I knew it, a single mattress with a student on top was surfing down the stairs on a sea of polystyrene beads, all the way to the trifles at the bottom. The next day, after a mammoth clean up, we were spotting the little beads in the streets down in the town centre. Turns out somebody thought it would be fun to put the beads in all the pockets in the coats room too. A few days later, they did have a whip round though and bought me a replacement bag of beads to repair it. Can’t say fairer than that!

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For the bottom draw

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This is my mum and dad’s engagement party in 1959. In those days, as well as wedding presents, you got gifts on your engagement too, for your bottom draw (a place where valuables are stored, especially the linen, etc., that a ‘woman’ might store in preparation for her marriage). That’s a big drawer to hold all this booty!

These gifts were mostly household items and included towels, a toaster, glassware and an alarm clock. I know for a fact they still use the cutlery that’s behind them on the table and mum says they still have the glass coffee jug and some of the glasses. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2011.

I showed mum this photo to check some details. She said she loved the retouching but could I just make the tablecloth longer to cover the packaging stored underneath. I said no, but perhaps I will, another day! Here’s the original photo below.

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Photography cannot be any easier

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This photo is of my dad’s mum, ‘going to work on an egg’. She isn’t, actually. She’s visiting the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1962. This photo came in a little yellow wallet (below) and was a promotion for Polaroid (or acrobatic lions. Or eggs).

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“You have just seen how the remarkable Polaroid Land Camera works. This amazing camera shortens the entire photographic process to just 10 seconds. You click the shutter, count slowly up to 10 then remove a beautiful, finished black and white print. Photography cannot be any easier!
We are sure you will want to keep this picture of yourself for many years. That is why it was sealed under plastic with the Polaroid Print Coater. This Coater comes packed with every Picture Roll and with a few quick strokes it makes a Polaroid Land Picture a lasting print that will not discolour or fade.”

Unfortunately, some 50+ years later, the polaroid was looking a little dishevelled but I enjoyed restoring it.

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Jobs for all the family

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This is a photo of my grandad when he worked at Lesney (early ’60s we think). Lesney is most famous for its Matchbox toys. I read that Matchbox began when Mr Odell, one of Lesney’s partners, once designed a toy for his daughter because her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox.

I heard the name Lesney a lot as a child. As well as my grandad, my nan also worked there, as did my mum and her brothers. One of my uncles met his wife there.

Here is the original photo with its scratches and tears.

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Stuck with it

You know when someone shows you something and you can’t ever unsee it?

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Well, a friend pointed out that this ad background looks like a naked man with a big red penis! Now I can’t unsee it so it makes me laugh every time. Taste the feeling indeed! There were several locally but I havent seen it for a few days. Perhaps somebody else has noticed too!

Family day out

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Here’s another great photo from The Suitcase. This is my mum in the centre with her mum and dad to her right and my brother in front. I’m not around yet.

They were in Epping Forest, celebrating my brother’s first birthday. The dog belonged to her parents. The car was my grandad’s. What a beauty. He always had nice cars as I remember.

I wanted to retouch this one as it’s such a lovely shot with only my mum noticing the camera. As well as some scratches, it had some double exposure issues down the right hand side (below). The original was smaller than 6″x 4″ but I scanned it in at 1,200 dpi so I should be able to do her a nice 10″x 8″ print.

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