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Shortlist announced for inaugural £200k international art competition

Today, 23rd September, Peabody announced the five projects shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open, an ambitious, open call, international art competition.

Shortlisted for The Thamesmead Marc Rees and Crafted Space

The Thamesmead Open invites artists to react to the unique setting of Thamesmead, the iconic Brutalist new town in South East London, with proposals that directly respond to its location, distinctive landscape, history, future and diverse communities.

The commission is intended to make a bold statement for Thamesmead, putting the area on the map and raising cultural ambitions. It has a total budget of £200,000 over two years to cover artist and organisation fees, production costs and travel. The project will be delivered over two years and completed by October 2022.

The shortlisted artists are:

Skywalk_shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open_credit Lina Lapelyte with UP Projects_Thamesmead2
Skywalk shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open  Lina Lapelyte with Implant Architecture + UP Projects

Lina Lapelyte, in collaboration with Implant Architecture and UP Projects, proposes ‘Skywalk’: a series of nine participatory performances developed through an extensive engagement process with 100 local people from Thamesmead. The performances will be inspired by the narratives, cultures and rituals of the participants and will be choreographed and devised by Lina Lapelyte, based on a year-long residency in Thamesmead as part of the commission. An anamorphic sculptural intervention referencing the iconic Greater London Council architectural modules will be created alongside this, providing a playful public space for visitors to enjoy and acting as informal seating for the performances themselves.

Thamesmead[O]_shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open_credit Marc Rees_Flatpack to Habitat - an arrival
Shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open Marc Rees Flatpack to Habitat – an arrival

Marc Rees and Crafted Space propose a new multi-faceted, socially engaged artwork entitled ‘Thamesmead [O]’. The proposal takes its inspiration from the land from which the new town was cut and from which it rises, and builds on the metaphorical allusions of the meadow. Their vision creates a new artistic focal point for Thamesmead, co-created through mapping, weaving, building, making, mentoring and skill shares with local people. This process is realised as large scale sculptures that echo Thamesmead’s brutalist architecture in the form of lightweight sky gardens. These structures serve as climbing frames for plants to take hold, becoming extraordinary living artworks as Thamesmead is reclaimed by the meadow.

Fields of Everywhen shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open Neil Musson and Jono Retallick

Neil Musson and Jono Retallick propose an artwork which evolves in conjunction with residents and communities of Thamesmead over a two year period. ‘Fields of Everywhen’ will consist of residents and collaborators’ stories woven into a tapestry, capturing their stories in a contemporary version of the Bayeaux Tapestry. Once formed, the tapestries will be transformed into the form of a Montgolfier a hot air balloon, the first method used to look back down at the inhabited landscape. Launched and then tethered in flight above Thamesmead, the balloon is a celebration of the global roots of the people of the neighbourhood, their myriad stories and heritages, and social and cultural interaction.

The Clay Archive_Shorlisted for The Thamesmead Open_credit Something & Son_kiln above
The Clay Archive Shorlisted for The Thamesmead Open Something & Son_kiln

Artists Something & Son and ceramicist Freya Bramble Carter have collaborated to devise ‘The Clay Archive’ – a project intended to bring together Thamesmead’s diverse residents through a collective creative act. Focussed around that most ancient of mediums; clay, their proposal takes inspiration from traditional manufacturing processes, land art and the experimental art of the 1960s, as well as referencing the nearby site of the C17th Woolwich kiln – the oldest example of its kind in the UK. Something & Son will design a ceramic studio in Thamesmead, run by Bramble Carter for a year, providing training and employment initiatives in the local community. Subsequently, a large groundhog kiln will be designed and constructed, in which the collective output of the ceramics studio will be communally fired. This will be documented to form ‘The Clay Archive’, before being returned to their makers to take home.

Audio Visual Walking Tour_shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open_credit Unaji&Co._Audio Visual Sculpture Render, 2021
Audio Visual Walking Tour_shortlisted for The Thamesmead Open_credit Unaji&Co._Audio Visual Sculpture Render, 2021

Emanuel Unaji + Unaji&Co. propose ‘The Deconstructed Gallery Cube’, a temporary time capsule installation which explores the universal themes of race, class and co-existence. This multi-disciplinary immersive experience will treat Thamesmead itself as a gallery space, leading participants through existing areas through a series of happenings: an advertising campaign across local billboards; the construction of public sculptures; a community fashion show; and a ‘block party’. Unaji&Co. is an art and design company co-founded by Emanuel and Lemuel Unaji, both former Thamesmead residents who maintain strong links to its communities. Their work fuses fashion, advertising and a fine art practice, creating a dynamic relationship between contemporary art, branding and the heritage through which they will explore and celebrate the evolution of Thamesmead at this crucial turning point.

Adriana Marques, Head of Cultural Strategy for Thamesmead says:

“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. 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.”


Built in the late 60s with a utopian dream of a new model town, Thamesmead today has a community of 45,000 people, beautiful green spaces of extraordinary scale, iconic brutalist architecture, and a growing creative community. Peabody, London’s oldest and largest housing association, is leading the regeneration of Thamesmead and putting culture at the heart of its plans.

The Thamesmead Open is organised by Peabody, London’s oldest and largest housing association, and forms part of its ambitious cultural strategy for the area, which places culture alongside other infrastructure and housing investment as a central part of its mission to create great places to live. The competition forms part of Thamesmead’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan for Thamesmead, the first to be published in London. ‘A home for culture in London’s new town’ forms a key part of Peabody’s long-term cultural strategy, and will serve as a blueprint for creating the cultural facilities that Thamesmead must provide to create a culturally rich and vibrant new town for London, which will likely be home to over 100,000 residents by 2030 with 20,000 new homes.


About the artists

Lina Lapelyte with UP Projects

Lina Lapelyte? is a Lithuanian artist, musician and performer. Her performance-based practice is rooted in music and flirts with pop culture, gender stereotypes, aging and nostalgia. Her works engage trained and untrained performers often in an act of singing through a wide range of genres such as mainstream music and opera. The singing often takes the form of a collective and affective event that questions vulnerability and silencing. Lapelyte?’s works were presented at KIM? in Riga, London, Rupert in Vilnius (solo exhibition), gallery 1857 in Oslo, the Modern Art Museum in Malmo, MACBA in Barcelona, Serpentine and DRAF in London, Cartier Foundation in Paris, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Kunsthalle Praha, RIBOCA2 – Riga biennale. Her opera- performance Sun & Sea (Marina) made together with Rugile? Barzdz?iukaite? and Vaiva Grainyte? represented Lithuania at the 58th Contemporary Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, where it was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.

Lina is collaborating with architect Mantas Petraitis and his team at Implant Architecture and public art commissioning organisation, UP Projects, which was founded with a mission to support artists to make new work that has social relevance, encourages learning and enriches the public sphere.

Marc Rees with Crafted Space

Marc Rees is a Welsh interdisciplinary artist/curator/director with an established track record of creating ground breaking, provocative and risk-taking site-specific theatre projects around the globe. He describes his role as an archaeologist—exhuming a site’s multi-layered history and unearthing fossil fragments of fact or fiction. Examining these findings, he transforms them in collaboration with artists, performers and communities through deduction, interpretation and re-imagination. The result becomes a new composite portrait of a place, its people and its stories, to be encountered by an audience as an immersive, stimulating and unique experience.

Jenny Hall is the director of Crafted Space Ltd, a design studio making socially engaged art and architecture for cultural organisations in regeneration, social inclusion and the arts. She has 25 years’ experience working across the boundaries of construction, architecture, events, festivals, and theatre. She also facilitates community design and build projects. Since 2016, Marc Rees and Jenny Hall have collaborated projects combining theatre, dance, site specific installation and architecture.

Musson + Retallick

Neil Musson and Jono Retallick create large scale site-specific artwork for public spaces. Their projects have been reviewed as ‘groundbreaking’ by Arts Council England and received high profile critical acclaim including an International Civic Trust Award for ‘Light Lines’. The studio is a collaboration between artists Neil Musson and Jono Retallick who trained in textiles at the Royal College of Art and Winchester School of Art respectively. The duo share a desire to see artistic stories woven into architecture and public spaces to enhance a sense of community and belonging. Journeys through time, emotion and landscape are central themes behind the artworks while concepts begin with historical and social research to fully understand a site.

Something & Son with Freya Bramble Carter

Something & Son (Andy Merritt & Paul Smyth) explores social and environmental issues via everyday scenarios through permanent installations, functional sculptures and public performance that help build communities and new ecologies. They have exhibited at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, V&A Museum, Manchester International Festival, Gwangju Biennale, Artangel, Milan Design Week, Cultural Olympia, Somerset House, Folkestone Art Triennial, Design Museum, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, the Wellcome Collection, and Istanbul Biennial. Projects have been selected for the New York Times Design Honor List, London Olympics Gifts of the Games and The Guardians New Radicals.

Freya Bramble Carter is a London based ceramics artist using artisan glazes and handcrafting unique silhouettes. Freya works with her father and together run Freya’s Clay Club. Their project team also includes: Aldo Rinaldi, curator and producer; Robert Nilsson, associate at Price and Myers engineers; Nic Collins, master potter and kiln builder; and Kevin Millward, director of Clay College and consultant to The Great Pottery Throw Down.

Emanuel Unaji with Unaji&Co.

Emanuel Unaji is a British-born, Nigerian, multidisciplinary fine artist based in London, and is CEO of Unaji&Co. With strong and varied experience in High Fashion, modelling for Brands such as Gucci, British GQ and Adidas amongst others, Emmanuel understands the process of illustrious production, his work aesthetically deconstructing the luxury of visibility and dissecting the process of mass communication through branded campaigns. Unaji&Co. is a design company that expertly triangulates sustainable Fashion, Arts and Project Management to provide an exclusive consumer experience.

He will be working closely with a specialist core team made up of: Sarah Sepahi, Event Producer; Lemuel Unaji, Creative Director; and Udit Shankar, Sustainability Consultant.

About Peabody

Peabody has been creating opportunities for Londoners since 1862, when it was established by the American banker and philanthropist, George Peabody. We are the capital’s oldest housing association. We own and manage around 66,000 homes, providing affordable housing for over 111,000 people. This is set to grow through new housing developments across London.

As well as bricks and mortar, we provide a wide range of community programmes for our residents and neighbourhoods, including help with employment and training, health and wellbeing projects and family support programmes.



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