Caught by the River

The Mobile Museum

25th August 2014


A few years back, I ended up owning a twenty-two foot long Welsh mobile library van. The van – purchased soon after it had been retired after ten years hard service in the Valleys – provided the moveable stage for Roam, an art project I’d conceived that had won the Create Art Award. It’s remit was to trundle slowly around the future host boroughs of a pre-Olympics London. After we’d fitted the van out with a parquet floor, Roam rumbled along for three weeks during which time it staged talks, walks, gigs and events. Pictish Trail led a Fence Collective party in Haggerston Park and John Andrews talked about Docklands’ angling heritage; Ceri Levy led a flock of twitchers to the top of 1 Canary Wharf, Tunng busked a show in Hollow Ponds.

When the run came to an end – after a last hurrah trip out of town to the Do Lectures at Fforest in Cardigan – the van sat gathering dust on a farm in Glastonbury until a brilliant London based artist called Verity got in touch. As it happened, she needed a twenty-two foot long library van for The Mobile Museum, a phenomenal local history project in the East End of London. In her words: “Used as a vehicle for exploring methods of classification, through commonplace library, museum and archiving standards, this Mobile Museum will, over the course of 5 months, create a new museum collection for the borough – gathering information, collecting, cataloguing and making. along the way and offering a new insight into contemporary Barking and Dagenham, and its place within London and the wider Thames Gateway.” The museum will map the stories of eleven council estates to create a living archive for the future. It’s a brilliant idea.

With public funding for arts being slashed, Verity has started a Kickstarter campaign online in order to get the museum on the road. There’s a different offers for various pledges amounts; all the money goes directly into the Mobile Museum. Without crowdfunding contributions, it can’t happen, the amount needed is a very reasonable £7000.

Best thing of all, Verity’s learnt to drive the bloody thing too.

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