SPACE’s sixth billboard commission is by local Redbridge artist Sabrina Tirvengadum and brings to light the fascinating historical links between the London Borough of Redbridge and the East India Company (EIC), which once dominated world trade. The tableau is a pastiche of a painting by William Hogarth, Assembly at Wanstead House (1728 – 1731) which depicts the ballroom of Wanstead House where the Child family has gathered for tea drinking and card playing. Sir Josiah Child, 1st Baronet, was Governor of the EIC, and purchased the Wanstead estate in the 1670s, using his vast wealth to carry out extensive landscape improvements and lay out palatial gardens. His son Richard commissioned a Palladian mansion, Wanstead House, to be built on the estate. Completed in 1722, the house was demolished less than a century later in 1825 and is now the site of Wanstead Golf Course and Wanstead Park. The EIC also housed many of its employees in Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford.
The artist has woven these narratives together in a dining scene. Four women with South Asian heritage sit around an opulent table, set against a window overlooking Wanstead House. Blending AI image manipulation, archival images and digital painting, the artist portrays herself and her friends who all grew up in Redbridge during their teenage years. Titled Afternoon Chai, the group are surrounded by the riches of their heritage: tea, spices, rugs, silk textiles and porcelain, all of which were imported by the EIC and have contributed to the wealth of the local area. The artwork encourages us to discover new facets of Redbridge’s history, recognising the global impact on the local environment.
Among the group sits a friend’s mother, symbolising generations of storytelling and experiences. By exploring the past, we gain insights into our present identities. Through shared history, we connect with the broader world. History isn’t just about looking back; it’s about interacting with it, moulding it, and bringing it into the present. This artwork melds past and present, East and West, truth and fiction. The scenes through the window remind us that history’s remnants are present in today’s landscape, waiting to be rediscovered.
Watch this fascinating film about Redbridge and the East India Company here.
Sabrina Tirvengadum (deaf British Mauritian, 1984) is an artist based at SPACE Studios, Ilford. Her art reflects a personal journey of self-discovery inspired by her family’s past. Using various mediums like photography, graphic design, collage, generative AI art and film, Sabrina’s work captures attention with beautiful narratives and colours.
Her art is deeply influenced by her Mauritian and British heritage, exploring themes of history and cultural roots. Her artistic vision is to connect people with their family histories, preserving legacies for future generations. She says, “In my creative practice, I breathe life into my ancestors’ stories and pay homage to their existence. Through my work, I hope to empower future generations to share and embrace their rich heritage.” Sabrina’s art celebrates the power of cultural heritage, inviting viewers to explore their own narratives.
2023: FVTVRE FOCUS / NEW TERRAIN, P A R A L L E L, DSQ
2023: If we were Marrier d’Unienville, Runner up, Visible Artist Award, House of St Barnabas and Audible Head office
2023: Lafami (Mauritius), NAE OPEN 2023, New Art Exchange
2023: If we were Marrier d’Unienville, Becoming Monumental, Autograph, Becoming Monumental at Old Street, outdoor display, As part of Autograph’s exhibition, YOU NAME IT by Sasha Huber
2023: My Fiancé – After he proposed, Small File Photo Festival, Photography Unthinking and The Photographers’ Gallery
2023: If we were Marrier d’Unienville, New Year Exhibition, The Print House Gallery
2022: The Other Intervention (Film), WAIWAV, Online campaign
2021: HomeMade Film screening with Leytonstone Loves Film + Barbican
2021: RyeHereRyeNow Poster Exhibition with London Design Festival
2021: Wiilma’s ‘Create and Connect Safely from Home’ Exhibition supported by Barbican’s Leytonstone Loves Film Festival
With special thanks to:
Saima Qureshi, Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre
Paula Wade, Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre
Gerard Greene, Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre
Premlata Mistry, SPACE