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Focal Point Gallery

Symposium: International Modernism and the Worker Village: from Essex to Shanghai


19 March 2022

‘International Modernism and the Worker Village: from Essex to Shanghai’ is an online day long symposium assessing the importance of British Modernism in Essex, particularly its former working estates in adoption of the International Modernist style during the 1920s and 30s, in comparison to the worker villages of Shanghai in the 1950s and 60s. As well as the aesthetic design, the social structure and political context of Silver End, Bata East Tilbury, Becontree and Caoyang Yicun will be discussed, in relation to the evolution of factory life over the past 100 years.

The symposium is part of the public programme for Cui Jie’s solo exhibition at Focal Point Gallery ‘New Model Village’. Speakers include Gillian Darley, Cui Jie, Verity-Jane Keefe, David Knight, Wenny Teo and Zhou Jianjia. The full programme will be announced shortly.

To listen to the talks from the symposium see below:

Factory Worker Towns: Gillian Darley and Zhou Jianjia

In Conversation Cui Jie and Wenny Teo

Becontree and Public Art Interventions Verity-Jane Keefe

Life in Bata David Knight and Mike Tarbard

For more information about the symposium click here.

The symposium took place online on Saturday 19 March 2022.

Based in Southend-on-Sea on the Thames Estuary, Focal Point Gallery supports the production and presentation of new and recent contemporary art that challenges us to think and feel differently about locality, our sense of self and the importance of communities. The project Radical ESSEX, is a programme of commissions and conversations seeking to re-examine the county in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture. The project sheds light on the vibrant, pioneering thinking of the twentieth century and celebrates the crucial role Essex has played in the history of British Modernism.

This event is organised in collaboration with Becontree Forever, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and with the support of the Paul Mellon Centre. The event is part of FPG’s Radical ESSEX programme.