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Dagenham artist's work displayed on Barking housing development's hoardings

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 August 2019

Artist Susanna Wallis by her artwork. Picture: Susanna Wallis

Artist Susanna Wallis by her artwork. Picture: Susanna Wallis

Susanna Wallis

Barking's past, present and future have been united in a new piece of artwork.

Artist's impression of the Abbey Quays development. Picture: Weston HomesArtist's impression of the Abbey Quays development. Picture: Weston Homes

Susanna Wallis' design, which reflects the borough's heritage, can be seen in Abbey Road after it was put on a hoarding surrounding the Abbey Quays site.

The development, by Weston Homes, has been given provisional planning permission and is set to feature more than 1,000 homes, a community hall and a gym.

"Last year I did a T-shirt for the Folk Festival," Susanna, who lives in Dagenham, explained.

"Weston Homes are the sponsors of the summer of festivals. I met them again a few months later and they said we want you to do a design for our hoarding."

The mural designed by Susanna Wallis. Picture: Susanna WallisThe mural designed by Susanna Wallis. Picture: Susanna Wallis

Susanna spent 10 days researching the history of the River Roding before taking a similar number of days to draw the artwork by hand.

It features landmarks including Barking Abbey and St Margaret's Church, as well as famous faces with links to the borough.

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"My research came from three areas," she explained.

"I had a lot of family stories about the area, I posted in a local history Facebook group and I spent four days at Valence House archives."

She then translated this into her design, which was drawn on two A1 sheets of paper before being scaled up by the Weston team.

She said the response to the hoarding design had been good, adding: "People have liked it. I was quite worried because I knew a lot of people are interested in the history of the local area."

Susanna grew up on the Gascoigne Estate and a lot of her illustrations are of Barking and Dagenham, including old buildings that no longer exist.

She said the Weston team liked both her designs and the fact that she was a local artist.

And the collaboration around the Abbey Quays site is set to continue.

"They want me to design something permanent that will be incorporated in the development," she said.

"It won't be temporary like the hoarding is, it'll be something that will be there for years."

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