Q&A: Artist Desiree Ntolo has been a Dagenham resident for almost 30 years.

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 September 2018


Artist and Dagenham resident for 30 years, Desiree Ntolo speaks about her passion for the borough, the need to look out for the less fortunate and fly-tipping

Desiree made headlines in the 1990s, when she erected a giant mud hut in the back garden of her house in the Becontree Estate. More recently, she’s held an exhibition of portraits at Barking Library.

What’s your connection with the borough?

I moved into my house in 1989 after having been on the housing list from Woodford Green. I met and married my second husband while living in my house, and when he died, I scattered his ashes in our garden which he loved so much, so my body my spirit and my soul are attached and connected to my house and to the borough.

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

So many changes have taken place in this borough since I arrived. My avenue is unrecognizable from what it was in the 1980s. There were a lot of derelict buildings, which have since then been demolished and replaced with lovely houses.

What one thing would you change?

For people who live on benefits and low incomes, many laws that were introduced have not always been to our advantage.

We also have a problem with fly-tipping and illegal disposal of household materials, furniture and kitchen machinery on roadsides in the dead of night.

Use three words to describe the area.

Multicultural, unsafe, rejuvenated.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

The old congregation of the Barking and Becontree Synagogue, while it was still open, and among them the late magistrate Cyrill Wolfe.

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

I’d abolish the bedroom tax and reinstate the free collection of household things.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

I’d try and put an emphasis on helping young people fulfill their potential. So many talented youths cannot achieve what they are capable of because of lack of adequate help and assistance, like free or low-cost facilities.

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