The Becontree Mural by artist Chad McCail


CREATE London were awarded a landmark commission to create a new mural on an exterior wall at Valence House Museum’s visitor centre. The mural tells the stories of the iconic Becontree estate from 1921 to the present day.

CREATE worked with a panel of local residents and Cultural Connectors to choose an artist for the commission. The artist Chad McCail was selected and set up his studio in Valence House Library and Archives.

The design for the mural was developed onsite during summer 2014 with a range of local people informing both the content and supporting the physical process of scaling up drawings and painting the mural onto the wall. More local residents created 10,000 copies of a special edition newspaper about the project, including an interview with the artist.

Alongside the making of the mural, a digital archive of local memories has also been developed recording the stories of local people from the Becontree Estate. This is part of a bigger partnership project called “This Used to Be Fields” between the Barbican, Historypin and CREATE London.

The mural was launched with a public event at Valence House Museum in October 2014 and has been featured in the Guardian, Evening Standard, BBC Online, Creative Review and local press.

Thanks to Cultural Connectors Biniam Ghide, Matthew Benjamin, Khushnood Ahmed, Ravinder Atwal, Robin Dixon, Tracey Martin and Miro and Daniela Tomarkin for their support with this commission. Many thanks also to London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and to Valence House staff and volunteers. 

Links and things

Here's a list of useful links for this commission:

This Used to be Fields website.

Create London website.

Create London Facebook.

Create London Twitter.

Photographs © Emil Charlaff