Thamesmead and ‘the culture of everyday life’
Five international artists have been chosen as the shortlist to create an artistic landmark and signpost to the future of the London surburban new town of Thamesmead.
“The Thamesmead Open represents our commitment to investing in culture part of everyday life, and creating inspirational moments that continue to bring our communities together” said Thamesmead’s head of cultural strategy Adriana Marques. “The chosen commission will be an ambitious step-change for culture in Thamesmead and integral to its development especially as, now more than ever, we recognise how important it is to love where we live.”
The Thamesmead Open, sponsored and organised by the housing association Peabody, has been devised to establish the area, straddling the boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley, as a cultural destination and is part of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan. The competition asked artists to consider how to engage with communities in innovative and responsive ways.
The five shortlisted are Lina Lapelyte with UP Projects; Marc Rees with Crafted Space; Musson + Retallick; Something & Son with Freya Bramble Carter; and Emanuel Unaji with Unaji&Co. They were chosen by a judging panel that includes Thamesmead community members, and the winner will be announced on October 15.
Lina Lapelyte and UP Projects is proposing Skywalk (above), a series of nine participatory performances developed through an extensive engagement process with 100 local people from Thamesmead, inspired by the narratives, cultures and rituals of the participants.
Marc Rees and Crafted Space want to build a multi-faceted, socially engaged artwork called Thamesmead [O] (main image) is a large-scale sculpture inspired by the place where the new town grew, echoing the town’s brutalist architecture.
Neil Musson’s and Jono Retallick’s Fields of Everywhen has evolved in conjunction with local residents and communities over two years, and represents their stories in a new version of the Bayeux Tapestry transformed into a hot air balloon (above).
The artists Something & Son have collaborated with the ceramicist Freya Bramble Carter to devise The Clay Archive (above), a collective creative act with a diverse group of residents which would involve the creation of a ceramic studio near the site of a 17th century kiln which will be run for a year.
Thamesmead resident Emanuel Unaji with his collective Unaji&Co propose The Deconstructed Gallery Cube (above), a temporary time capsule installation which explores the themes of race, class and co-existence with Thamesmead itself used as a gallery space with an advertising campaign across local billboards, public sculptures, a community fashion show and a “block party”.