A programme of art, culture and new infrastructure to reimagine the future of the UK’s biggest council housing estate
Visions of Paradise is a public artwork by Shezad Dawood on permanent display outside The White House on the Becontree Estate. The work made to mark the centenary of the Becontree Estate illuminates its surroundings through a digital animation, hosted in a sculptural display that borrows its form from ancient Neolithic standing stones, thus connecting a pre-industrial past with Becontree’s present-day sense of place.
The artwork's title alludes to a description of Becontree Estate at the time of its construction (1921–35) as a ‘working-class paradise’ and references the estate’s visionary architecture, its hey-day of shared communal activity and the symbols that have come to define its residents’ sense of place. The film and digital animation is populated by historic and contemporary icons of Becontree selected in dialogue with local residents, including images of a vintage Ford Capri and the Dagenham Idol. These are overlaid on the 8mm footage newly shot by the artist alongside clips contributed by the community and archival film. The work is accompanied by an especially commissioned musical score by patten.
The White House
884 Green Lane
Shezad Dawood works across the disciplines of painting, film, neon, sculpture, performance, virtual reality and other digital media to ask key questions of narrative, history and embodiment. Using the editing process as a method to explore both meanings and forms, his practice often involves collaboration and knowledge exchange, mapping across multiple audiences and communities. Through a fascination with the esoteric, otherness, the environment and architectures both material and virtual, Dawood interweaves stories, realities and symbolism to create richly layered artworks.