Close and Remote

Close and Remote are artists Sophie Mellor and Simon Poulter. They were commissioned to make a series of films about Barking and Dagenham people and places, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the borough. They roamed across Barking and Dagenham in an old customised Ford Transit van, getting footage and facilitatied events such as Transit van skittles, sing along sessions, and a castle of trades. The final film, We Are What We Are, is a journey through five decades of working lives. Mixing first person narrative and archival images, ‘We Are What We Are’ tracks the impact of globalisation on the landscape and people of Barking and Dagenham.

Check out the first of their short films below. 

By the grace of God, we are what we are
— The Old Barking Coat of Arms

Sophie and Simon have taken their inspiration for the title of this commission from the old Barking coat of arms. They say "We think this title describes an attitude to life but also through the our proposal an invitation - ‘we are what we are...but we can be more’. That’s the idea in the project. Often people make their own breakthroughs in creative lives, unexpectedly it might be realising that you don’t need permission to do something, you can be a producer or a do-er and other people appreciate you in a different way. Creativity in this respect is a breakthrough."

If you'd like to find out more about this project please take a look at their website.