Dock Speak event premieres four new Royal Docks artist commissions

Art & Culture

Dock Speak event premieres four new Royal Docks artist commissions

The Royal Docks Team are proud to unveil four new digital artworks from exciting local artists, all made in and about the Royal Docks. Premiering at Dock Speak, a Newham Heritage Month event at Canning Town venue Social Convention, the pieces are all part of Our People and Stories, a series of artist commissions providing a platform to highlight the breadth of voices who have a home in the Royal Docks, and exploring its people and places.

The evening included a screening of The Chains of Change, made by young people from Beckton and Canning Town; as well as screenings from artists Djofray Makumbo, Salvatore Rubbino, Marilyn Fontaine.

The four works, now available online to experience in full, are:

Busy Roads to Wide Water & Big Skies by Salvatore Rubbino

Salvatore Rubbino is an illustrator and has made Newham his home. ‘I love to look’ he says, ‘and drawing helps me to notice my surroundings more carefully’. In March 2023, he was joined by fellow Newham resident Raffaella Ravaioli on a walk through Canning Town to explore how the present has been shaped by the past and experience the noisy energy of building projects all around as Canning Town races towards a new future. The route follows busy roads of industry and shops, then quieter residential streets and finally to the Royal Victoria Docks with its wide water reflecting a big sky. Salvatore drew the pictures for the project and the words are from the conversation and opinions he shared with Raffaella.

The animation and soundscape for the illustrations was created by filmmaker Emma Crouch.

Coming together by Marilyn Fontaine

Coming together explores the work and social culture of African Caribbean workers at Tate and Lyle sugar refinery on Royal Docks in Newham from 1977 to 2000.

The stories of four workers have been captured in an audio piece and visual art project, layering stories of migration, community, extended family and the economic stability created by the job opportunities in the factory.

Marilyn says “this project is inspired by my own experiences of seeing my mother, a Tate and Lyle employee, belong to a strong community of women. I saw my mother become economically independent and create a work ethic that I follow today and all the interviews have these themes in common work ethic, community spirit and a desire to do well for their families.”

Marilyn J Fontaine is an East London-based mixed-media artist who creates magical, intense and witty narratives with mystical overtones. The theme of her work documents the feminine aspects integral to her journey and are heavily influenced by the rituals and practices of Indigenous cultures and the connection of healing using storytelling and nature. Marilyn’s work is often intense, witty, bold, juxtaposed and ironic with strong cultural references and paradoxically an ethereal aesthetic as the artist feels strongly connected to nature, ritual, community, and the human experience.

Her work embodies esoteric and human cultural themes including human values and our connection and relationship to something greater. Marilyn’s work also has the ability to connect and engage the public, provoke discussion, and create an inward dialogue due to the personal nature of her work.

Memories by Djofray Makumbu

Djofray Makumbu is a British Congolese artist and animator based at Studio Voltaire. He has made several short films including award winning ‘Hello Mr Officer’. Memories is Djofray’s new documentary film, and is presented as a glimpse through the eyes of the artist, exploring the Congolese experience of two different generations. The film uses archival footage alongside location filming in Canning Town and newly filmed and recorded interviews. These scenes are joyful family gatherings and reflections from Djofray’s friends and family, who he often collaborates with.

Duration 42 minutes. Black and white film. 2023

The Chains of Change

The Chains of Change is a short film made by young people from Shipman Youth Zone and Beckton Youth Zone, based on their research into Newham Archives; facilitated by filmmaker Mmoloki Chrystie and poet Remi Graves.

The project was developed and delivered by Spread the Word. SPREAD THE WORD is London Literature Development agency and supports writers across the city. Its programmes include Deptford Literature Festival, London Writers Awards and Runaways London.