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Five young Londoners are chosen to commission new public art as part of a groundbreaking initiative for Thamesmead

Following a broad call for applications for “clear communicators passionate about creativity, art and their local community,” five people aged 18 to 29 were selected to co-found a new creative studio for Thamesmead.


The successful candidates, all from Thamesmead, are Shalini Panchal, Comfort Adeneye, Gonzalo Fuentes, Qozeem Lawal, Shalini Panchal and Whitney Manassian (photo from left to right). Together, they will oversee Southmere’s first permanent public art commission, located in the newly built Cygnet Square in the heart of Southmere, which is currently undergoing a major renovation. It is part of Peabody’s long-term regeneration of Thamesmead that will see 20,000 homes built over thirty years, along with thousands of new jobs, recreational, cultural and business facilities.

“Art and culture are central to the transformation of Thamesmead, celebrating it as an iconic but often overlooked place that has inspired creatives for decades. A program of ongoing events and projects has started to reveal the incredible creativity of the people who live here. This new initiative takes that to the next level. The great young people who form Thamesmead’s premier creative studio will not only have the power to commission public art that is relevant and representative of their friends, family and neighbors, but they will be our ambassadors and a window to an ambitious future. for the city. .

Adriana Marques, Head of Cultural Strategy at Thamesmead

Hosted by Yinka Danmole, Vickie Hayward and Joseph Gray – a creative team with extensive experience in delivering public domain art – this long-term paid work experience opportunity includes weekly workshops and mentoring sessions that will have held in various public and community venues around Thamesmead. These sessions will prepare Thamesmead Creative Studio to lead the commissioning process for Cygnet Square’s first artwork, slated for unveiling in fall 2022. The studio’s co-founders will lead the direction of the piece, while learning the on-the-job project. management skills, from curating works of art to budgeting and time management.

Guest practitioners scheduled to meet with the cohort in the coming weeks include graphic designers Fraser Muggeridge studio, multidisciplinary architecture, design and art collective Assemble, artist Katie Schwab, contemporary art organization TACO! , Thamesmead-based multidisciplinary artist Divine Southgate, ceramic artist and architect Maria Gasparian, and cultural producer and curator Razia Jordan.

The aim of this initial phase of the project is to challenge standard practice around public art commissioning, centering the voices of young creatives and equipping them with the tools and skills necessary to develop and move the process forward. order in the future.

“This opportunity to commission new permanent artwork as a team is truly ambitious, and it gives us the unique chance to ensure that the work produced represents where we come from, who we are and what we are. Learning how to manage projects like this and what skills we will need to thrive in the creative industries in the future is a huge bonus. Our aim here is to show how art and culture can help to have a positive impact on Thamesmead. We’re committed to trying new things, inspiring others along the way, and creating work that really matters ”.

The five co-founders said:

Co-founding members

Shalini Panchal is an art lover and aspiring small business owner who has lived in the area since her birth. She says: “So far I have held various corporate positions where I have been able to develop my professional skills and I have made the decision to follow my creative passions by starting my own small business to produce art. graphics and typography, what i am. currently working on. I enjoy all art forms and draw inspiration from many different things including architecture, movies, fashion and music. I was interested in this project because it will be a great way for me to learn new skills, meet other creatives in the area and be part of something exciting for Thamesmead! “IG: @shaypanchal

Comfort Adeneye is 21 and has lived in Thamesmead since 2006. She is currently in her third year of a Film Degree at Nottingham Trent University. She says: “The theme of my personal study has always been social realism through the lens of an ambitious working-class youth who was inspired by my upbringing from Peckham to Thamesmead. The area of ​​cinema that interests me the most is narrative writing and the ability to tell stories through different mediums. My other interests include music, hair anthropology and a new appreciation for nature ”. IG: @_comfort

Gonzalo Fuentes obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Malaga (Spain) and a Masters of Art and Creation from the Complutense University of Madrid. His projects are based on the conception of painting as a game of composition through resources and references to architectural elements. Moving to London in January 2019 to work and study, he lives in one of the single-family homes that make up the residential area of ​​Thamesmead. Currently he works as an administrative assistant in a care agency in Woolwich and works on creative projects in his spare time. He is interested in ways in which the visual arts can have a social and educational impact. IG: @ gonzalofuentes3

Qozeem Lawal graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in fashion entrepreneurship and now runs a clothing line named Achilles. Its goal is to produce polarizing designs, something that will grab someone’s attention before they even notice who is wearing it. He said, “I believe that no dream is out of reach with enough time, planning and discipline in place. I also know that the sooner young people find such self-confidence, the better our communities and our planet will be ”. IG: @qozeem

Whitney manassian is an Italian artist whose work explores the concepts of beauty, longing and love. Originally from the fine arts, Whitney came to the UK inspired by her passion for illustration and cinematography to explore and experiment. She recently graduated from the Canterbury University of the Creative Arts Illustration and Animation Course. Whitney was involved in the production of the Thamesmead festival and a mentee on the play My teacher is a troll at the Théâtre des Ruines. IG: @ _magentamonkey99_

More information about the program and studio members is available on Thamesmead Now website.


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Marc Westall

Mark Westall is the founder and editor-in-chief of FAD magazine Founder and co-editor of Art of Conversation and founder of the @worldoffad platform

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