Tile & Lighting Installation, Thamesmead, 2020

Tile mural: The Grantchester Pottery
Lighting: Light Follows Behaviour
Workshops and co-design produced in collaboration with Hawksmoor Youth Club and Woolwich Polytechnic School

Commissioned & funded by Peabody
Curation & project management: Sam Skinner
Tile printing & glazing: Surface Design Studio
Lighting fixtures: LEC
Installation contractor: Baylis Landscapes
Installation photography: Angus Mill

This commission responded to a relatively open brief by Peabody for an installation that rejuvenated a well-used, but neglected underpass in Thamesmead using co-design methods.

I was interested in how the combination of a tile and lighting installation could coalesce to transform the underpass, and work with the unique character of the site, in particular the reflective quality of the canal that runs through it. Additionally, the project had dialogue and skills sharing between commissioned artists, designers, and local young people at its heart.

I assembled a team that included artist duo The Grantchester Pottery working with young people at Woolwich Polytechnic, and lighting designers’ Light Follows Behaviour collaborating with Hawksmoor Youth Club.

Light Follows Behaviour led a night walk looking at street lighting around Granary Square and Regent’s Canal in Kings Cross, and conducted a follow-up workshop at Hawksmoor, developing lighting designs for the underpass site.

A lighting design was developed to replace the old lighting with a central fixture to project light onto the tile mural and architectural facades, creating a more welcoming and open space. The design also included coloured spotlights and firefly lights in the trees, connecting the underpass with the wider area and creating reflections in the water.

The Grantchester Pottery (TGP) conducted research across Thamesmead and delivered a series of workshops with young people at Woolwich Polytechnic School, including developing ideas using landscape photography, independent drawing, and collage techniques inspired by the work of Duncan Grant.

TGP made drawings of the reed beds at Tump 53 nature reserve and produced studies of Thamesmead’s architecture and infrastructure – from its communal stairwells to the circular settling tanks at nearby Crossness sewage treatment works. The final design mixed painterly effects developed in the workshops, free flowing line drawings of plants and water, with larger geometric forms echoing Thamesmead’s architecture.

Concept designs were presented to local residents at a consultation events in the underpass and at Jubilee Community Centre. The final design was installed spring 2020.

A booklet produced documenting the project was distributed free to collaborators and local residents. Download pdf version here.

Many thanks to The Grantchester Pottery, Light Follows Behaviour, Kate Batchelor at Peabody, Lisa Coombs-Roberts and students at Woolwich Polytechnic, Claire Hallinan and young people at Hawksmoor Youth Club, Mark Wood at Surface Design Studio, Baylis Landscapes, Tump 53, and Gogi’s Supermarket.