Concrete Dreams: Just Can’t Get Enough

Exhibitions: FREE

(No booking required)

Concrete Dreams: Just Can’t Get Enough

Saturday 20 April - Sunday 10 November 2024


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Jordan Cook, Day End, 2023

Thomas Holland, This Is Science Fiction, 2020-2021

How do urban transformations shape our identities?


Presented 75 years after Basildon in Essex was designated a New Town, ‘Concrete Dreams: Just Can’t Get Enough’ reflects on the influence of the Britain’s post-war new town movement on cultural identity, and the impact of policy decisions on individual lives.

Established after the Second World War to alleviate the nation’s housing shortage, 22 New Towns were developed across the UK during the late 1940s – 1950s.

To celebrate 10 years of the Firstsite Collectors’ Group Bursary Awards, the exhibition brings together East Anglian artists who received or applied for these awards and are also based or born in New Towns or housing developments on the borders of East London – to examine our relationship with this unique social engineering project.

Explore the experiences of those who moved to New Towns and the communities who were affected by these developments as busting city life of East London collided with quiet suburbia – creating a melting pot of ideas and cultures.   

Featuring paintings, photography, poetry and drawing, embark on a unique journey that takes you through stories around place and memory, migration, and belonging, to reveal the complexities of our relationships to class and housing planning.

Explore geographical paintings, including boundary lines of Basildon’s villages, visit Harlow New Town through auto-biographical series of charcoal drawings and discover portraits that offer intimate studies of cross generational family and friends.

Alongside the biographical paintings, investigate class experience and queer folklore from council estates in East London through visual poems and videos, and discover photography that disrupts the way media portrays Essex through collaborative costumes.


Artists featured in this exhibition:

Elsa James, George Morgan, Halla Groves-Raines, Lu Williams, Shaun Badham, Thomas Holland, Jordan Cook, Aislin Evans.


Firstsite Collector’s Group was established in 2014, and raises vital funds for Firstsite, through sponsoring exhibitions and artistic events to enhance the gallery’s programme. Find out more here.


* Please note RideLondon is taking place on this date in Colchester. The High Street and East Hill, between Queen Street and Brook Street, will be closed from 04:00 to 20:00. Please find out more information here.





10am - 5pm


10am - 5pm


10am - 10pm


10am - 10pm


10am - 10pm


10am - 5pm

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