A programme of art, architecture and infrastructure to mark the centenary of the UK’s biggest council housing estate

Shezad Dawood

Visions of Paradise

The White House

August 2021

Visions of Paradise will be a new permanent public artwork by Shezad Dawood. A site-responsive light installation outside The White House will illuminate its surroundings through a digital animation hosted in a sculptural display that borrows its forms from ancient Neolithic standing stones, connecting a pre-industrial past with present-day Dagenham.

The project takes its title from the ‘working-class paradise’ description of the Becontree Estate at the time of its construction, and references its visionary architecture and its history before and since the Ford Factory era (1931). The animation will include historical and contemporary icons of Becontree: images of the Dagenham Idol and a vintage Ford Capri will unite with symbols including a white stork, the national bird of Lithuania, and Amunututu, a Nigerian leafy green vegetable sold in local grocery shops. These symbols will shape the animation’s narrative and be selected through close collaboration between Shezad and members from the British, South Asian, Nigerian, Afro-Caribbean, Lithuanian, Romanian, Turkish, Chinese and other constituencies that make up contemporary Becontree.

The White House
884 Green Lane

Open in Maps

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.

Commissioned by Create London, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.