Cosy Tea RoomFor the last decade I have observed the slow decline of a building in Dagenham with interest, until eventually I began to make sketches as I felt the need to celebrate this solid, unpretentious edifice. It has a certain dignity despite its abused and neglected state. I was particularly struck by ‘The Cosy Tea Room’ on the small apex of the building as the lettering became more obscure each time I passed by.
Not far away is the latest incarnation of the Ford Motor Factory, itself a ghost of what it used to be in the area. In its heyday during the 50s and 60s it employed around 50,000 workers and someone in every local family would have been employed there – the ‘Tea Room’ must have been a lively meeting place then. I don’t know whether the Ford women machinists met here in 1968 when they went on strike for pay equality, but one can always wonder.
There are no people in this work, but the marks and traces that they leave behind are everywhere. As surfaces are gradually eroded, time peels away the layers like wallpaper to reveal the patina beneath.
Title: The Cosy Tea Room Oil on canvas, unframed
Size: 76cm h x 101cm w