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Grayson Perry: ‘This lamp is a small monument to social housing’

The artist’s two-metre-wide illuminated artwork of a row of semi-detached houses can be viewed at Barking’s A House for Artists

Charlotte Cripps
Wednesday 30 November 2022 13:24 GMT
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Grayson Perry’s new permanent sculpture ‘Inspiration Lives Here’
Grayson Perry’s new permanent sculpture ‘Inspiration Lives Here’ (Thierry Bal)

Grayson Perry is unveiling a moving new permanent public sculpture today (30 November) in Barking town centre.

Inspiration Lives Here is a two-metre-wide lamp in the shape of a row of semi-detached houses. It is inspired by the Becontree Estate in Dagenham – the UK’s largest housing estate built between 1921 and 1935, during the inter-war housing crisis, with roots in the Arts & Crafts tradition.

The artwork is located in the central courtyard of A House for Artists, which provides sustainable and affordable housing and workspaces for 12 artists and their families in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The illuminated hand-painted sculpture, made of Corten steel designed to weather over time, will act as a shining beacon of light to welcome visitors.

“This lamp is a small monument to social housing,” said Perry. “I spent half my childhood living in such a house and most of my extended family lived out their lives in a council house.”

He added: “In a time of unaffordable housing here in the UK a council house seems like an unattainable dream.

“I want the lamp to have an air of nostalgia for a time when people tinkered in sheds and kids ran wild, when the Becontree Estate was the home of wartime heroes and Ford workers. The pale green Ford Anglia was my father’s first car.”

To reflect the history of car production in Dagenham, Perry’s lamp also includes a Ford car and a transit van parked outside, with light pouring out through the windows of house and vehicle.

Grayson Perry’s sculpture includes a nod to the history of car production in Dagenham (Julia Forsman)

Perry’s new sculpture was commissioned by Create London and funded by Art Fund.

“’Inspiration Lives Here’ will stand tall as an illuminating symbol of creativity, marking Grayson Perry’s invaluable support and enthusiasm for A House for Artists,” said the director of Create London, Marie Bak Mortensen.

“Create London are thrilled to have commissioned this permanent artwork for the community around Barking Town Centre, which continues our mission to dissolve traditional hierarchies between the artworld and the everyday, bringing first-class art to areas where it is least expected.”

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