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Painted Becontree residents invited back to see art they are in and help with new work

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 March 2019

The residents in these paintings will also receive a copy of them. Picture: Wouter Osterholt.

The residents in these paintings will also receive a copy of them. Picture: Wouter Osterholt.

Wouter Osterholt

Residents from Becontree estate were painted by the Dutch artist Wouter Osterholt from November 2017 to March 2018 as they came and went across the area.

The people in the paintings are being invited to a March 30 event at the White House Gallery to see the work and help form stories about how the scenes came about. Picture: Wouter Osterholt.The people in the paintings are being invited to a March 30 event at the White House Gallery to see the work and help form stories about how the scenes came about. Picture: Wouter Osterholt.

A year on, they are now being invited back to the White House Gallery, where Osterholt did his residence.

At the event they will get to see the finished works, receive a copy and contribute to a new project.

“As an artist, I try to read the landscape and respond to the underlying and intrinsic values of a place,” said Mr Osterholt.

“The paintings mirror these hidden social structures, as I believe they are still part of the (social) landscape of today.

Picture: Wouter Osterholt painted Becontree residents as they walked past where he was painting on the estate. Picture: Wouter Osterholt.Picture: Wouter Osterholt painted Becontree residents as they walked past where he was painting on the estate. Picture: Wouter Osterholt.

“But I do hope I can do more than only reflecting on the given context. With the event on Saturday I hope to be able to meet most of the people I have portrayed.

“I will ask them to imagine a storyline that goes together with the painting.

“This short collaborative moment is what is most dear to me, because in our completely polarized societies (see Brexit), these moments have become increasingly rare but they are fundamental for good functioning democratic societies.”

The artist depicts trees on Walnut Tree Road, Valence Avenue and Warrington Road and used his time on the estate to speak to over 80 people living in Becontree about the area.

He portrays the people he spoke to in his paintings as gathering around the trees.

These stories that the residents work out with the artist will then be put on plaques featuring the paintings across the estate at the places where Osterholt painted.

The plaques will give multiple narratives of how the scenes came about and present residents’ visions of the future of Becontree estate.

During his residency at the White House Gallery Wouter Osterholt explored at new models of communal living within the estate.

He looked at the meaning of ‘Becontree’ as it is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book—an unprecedented survey of Britain by William the Conqueror.

The name unsurprisingly comes from the combination of the words ‘beacon’ and ‘tree’.

The original tree on the site marked the place where local area—or ‘hundred’—meetings took place.

The free event is from 3pm until 4pm Saturday, March 30 at the White House Gallery.

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