Reflections on visiting Marks Gate
On 14th April we hosted our first ‘Artist Takeover Day’ at the Creative Cafe on Marks Gate. Local residents worked with poet and writer Kayo Chingonyi to make a book of Marks Gate, a personal archive containing stories, memories, pictures and objects from Marks Gate. Read his experiences of the day.
Until very recently I lived in Dagenham, about fifteen to twenty minutes on the bus from Marks Gate. When I lived there, though, I was always conscious of a separation between the two places so I was pleased to be able to cross the A12 for this project and get to know a bit about the history of Marks Gate for myself.
I spoke with local residents about their experiences of the area, what had changed in the time they had lived there, their favourite things about Marks Gate. With the help of these residents I brought this all together in a handmade pamphlet: The Book of Marks Gate.
One resident I spoke to talked about how happy he was that the creative café exists and that the people of Marks Gate have a place to come and engage with their creativity (he is a photographer but I met upholsterers, poets, and storytellers during the day).
I also spoke to Mandeep Mahadeo who is a Locality Manager tasked with managing two local children’s centres and the community centre. What came across in our conversation is her commitment to the area. Mandeep spoke about the very particular sense of community in Marks Gate and it is something I was able to pick up on just from visiting on one day. Residents know each other and they keep in touch; it is a network of support. I hope the writings and images in the book of Marks Gate go some way to showing this.