Joseph Ijoyemi
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Local artist wins £12k art commission to design basketball court floor

A former Thamesmead resident has won a £12,000 art commission to design the floor of the iconic Cage basketball court in South Thamesmead.

The project is being supported by Peabody, who are leading the long-term regeneration of the neighbourhood.

Contemporary artist Joseph Ijoyemi’s artwork, ‘Believe and Achieve’ aims to bring in local people from the community, promote confidence, hope and unity within the Cage. It will feature vibrant colours and silhouettes of local people playing games, which Joseph will capture through workshops he will run there. His final art piece will be unveiled in Spring 2023.

Joseph’s design was chosen by The Cage TM group, made up of local residents, who have been involved in the entire commissioning process since 2019. Having shortlisted six artists from more than 30 applications, the group engaged young people and others in the community to choose their favourite artwork.

The Cage is an iconic space in South Thamesmead. Over the past 20 years it has housed multiple artworks, from colourful children’s stencils to commemorative graffiti. It is also a popular filming location for dancers and musicians, as well as photographers. The installation of Joseph’s artwork will be carried out as part of a wider refurbishment of the space, delivered by muf architecture/art. This will include new sporting equipment, lighting and seating – making it a vibrant, accessible and welcoming place for people to enjoy.

Speaking about what he hopes to achieve with his installation, Joseph said: “'I was raised in Thamesmead, so the Cage has huge sentimental value to me. I often met up with friends there to play basketball and football. Many of my memories stem from time spent at the Cage, some good, some not so good. I’d like to work with the people who use the Cage – whether it’s after school, during the weekend or over the summer – and work with them to make it brighter.

“For me, by making the space brighter it means your future is bright. It means that you’re able to achieve whatever you desire. And that’s what I want to achieve in this space. As a contemporary artist working in a collaborative way is key for me and to work with the community is precious.”

Dominika Kieruzel, one of the local residents who judged the commission entries, said: “When Joseph came to our first site visit at the Cage he told us that his vision was for it to be really colourful and joyful. He has experience with mentoring kids and I love that he wants to engage with lots of young people for the design as well as the actual painting part of the installation.

“My hope for the Cage is that the street culture that exists there will flourish and attract lots more people who will feel safe and welcome in the space. I hope it will make them feel important, like superstars, and I’m looking forward to more organised sports training for kids from the area.”

Adriana Marques, Peabody’s Head of Cultural Strategy for Thamesmead, said: “This commission is all about bringing the community together through art and sport, and doing it with a good dose of imagination. Local residents have led the whole commissioning process for the artwork, meaning it’s those who live in the community who get to decide what the court floor will look like.

“Joseph has done a fantastic job so far with his proposal and we can’t wait to see the finished product once his artwork is unveiled next Spring. It will be a perfect addition to the Cage refurbishment and will make the space brighter, more interesting and more inviting.”

Liza Fior, muf architecture/art said: "As well as sports provision the Cage is an important outside room for South Thamesmead. We have designed some new furnishings, from benches to lighting, so it's great that it's also getting a new 'carpet' from a local artist.”

You can read more about Thamesmead’s array of cultural activities, spaces, community groups and artists in the Thamesmead Culture Guide and Directory .

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