Silk River

Barking and Dagenham Interview Transcript

Alison Cormack and Khushnood Ahmed


Interview by Elizabeth Lynch
Production by Mike Johnston
Transcript by Jane Ford
Run time: 3:27


Alison Cormack

Hello, my name is Alison. I am a local resident in Barking and Dagenham. I am also a cultural connector for Creative Barking and Dagenham.

The first time we ran the Glow Festival was last year. What we wanted to do was bring a spectacle that had never been seen before. We all like lights and we are fascinated by light so the cultural connectors decided that we would like to have this Glow Festival and basically a festival of light.

The installations were chosen by the Cultural Connectors to fit in with Eastbury Manor House which is a Grade 1 listed building.

The most spectacular instillation was the Fire Garden by an artist called Paboom. Everybody just absolutely loved it. It was within the medieval walled garden. There was 5000 candles burning and all different designs and sculptures. It was just simply stunning.

We also commissioned some local people to do some installations for the event. Two of them that I can think of off the top of my head which were absolutely fantastic and simple but really effective was a load of flowers that all lit up the pathway. This was made by a local resident. She managed to engage all the schools and the local community to be able to make all of these.

Another lady made loads and loads of little houses and they were all based on the houses in the area and the little houses all lit up as well.

Glow brought a different dimension to the community. It brought a lot of the communities together. We invited other people from other boroughs. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Everyone saw a different side to the borough and a different side to the arts and a different side to what the borough can achieve and do and a what it has got to offer.

Khushnood Ahmed

Hello my name is Khushnood Ahmed and I am a community activist and an artist from Barking and Dagenham.

Housing is coming up over here very rapidly and there are a lot of people who are not only new to the area but most of the people are new to even this country as well and art is the best way to connect everybody because over there it doesn’t matter which religion, race, ethnicity you belong to – everybody comes in and enjoys it. That’s all, because of art, people come to know their hidden skills which they never discovered about and being myself, as an artist, it is a passion which you want to do something for yourself and others to enjoy.

Surprisingly, most of the people even didn’t know, that behind this upcoming development there is a river. By having this walk and researching this project we come to know most of the people oh we have a very nice walk along the river. Even though there is the River Roding, most of the people never knew about it. This is the way this project will really help everybody to come and explore, to see the new areas which have been hidden for a long time in our borough.


Thank you to Alison and Khushnood for taking the time to speak to us.

Special thanks go to Creative Barking and Dagenham, their staff and partners for the planning and facilitation of the Barking walk.

Creative Barking and Dagenham have worked with the following organisations for Silk River:


Dagenham is famous for the relocation of the Ford Motor factory in 1931 creating 40,000 jobs locally and becoming an industrial hub on the river. In 1866 Barking became the site for what grew into the UK’s large jute mill. The mill couldn’t compete with the cheaper labour that was found in West Bengal and shut in 1886.

Creative Barking and Dagenham (CBD) is a project for people living, working and socialising in Barking and Dagenham. CBD enable local people to create, commission and curate outstanding arts and creative activities in their areas, and to promote the borough as a place where exciting art – of all forms – is made and shown.

The creation of the Barking and Dagenham scroll uncovered many rich stories, old and new; from the past lives of fishing families, revealed in the carvings and stain glass windows at St. Margaret’s Church, to our modern-day river community who are bringing new life to the water through projects that explore the environment and how we interact with it.

The team at CBD have created a unique festival called Thamesfest which, for Silk River, will feature a colourful art walk through Barking and Dagenham marking the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence. Inspired by stories of the river and the local connections between old and new, the trail will come alive showcasing giant silk scrolls designed by local artists