On May 13 the Mayor of Barking & Dagenham, Councillor Eileen Keller, was present at the grand opening of an exhibition at Valence House to commemorate the achievement of the people of Dagenham. They have helped re-establish British-German relations after the Great War. In her opening address the Mayor spoke of how important good relations between nations are especially in these turbulent times.
The Mayor of Barking & Dagenham, Councillor Eileen Keller has been to Witten herself on several occasions and met the people who like herself want the world to be peaceful to ensure the next generations can lead a happy life.
The Young Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Miss Vaisaly Gnanapandithan then expressed her wish that like herself young people would visit the exhibition in the coming months.
The opening address was presented by Alan Gorsuch, Freeman of the City of London and a friend of mine for well over 50 years. He told the more than 30 invited guests about my background and how he and his wife Dorothy were hosts to young people from Germany for a fair number of years starting in 1963.
The exhibition shows paintings with picturesque landmarks of the twin towns of Dagenham and Witten. It also tells the history of the exchange which started with a Christmas dinner of German POWs in private homes in Dagenham back in 1946.
The Barking&Dagenham Witten Club have loaned some of their memorabilia to the exhibition. There is a plate with a picture of Witten, a plaque to remember the time capsule presented to the Club by the people of Witten, and a book to continue the Two Town Story written by Arthur Durrant who initiated the first contacts with German prisoners of war.
Limited edition prints of the Dagenham Civic Centre painting together with postcards and fridge magnets of some of he paintings as well as the originals can be purchased from the museum´s shop.
I am planning to take the exhibition over to Germany after it closes in July. It will then be shown together with works from Yemi Tubi an artist from Dagenham who has created moving paintings about the disturbing truths the world is facing today. Yemi´s subjects range from the refugee crisis to famine and the ills of wars.
In the run-up to the exhibition the local newspaper published a double sided online article about the event and a printed version. With kind permission by the author Phoebe Cooke the latter can be downloaded here. The exhibition will close Sat 29 July 2017.
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