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Thamesmead basketball court undergoes colourful transformation

Local artists have transformed the entire floor and walls of the multi-use games area on Thamesmead’s Wolvercote Road – known locally as the Cage – into striking works of art.

Artist Joseph Ijoyemi, who grew up in the area, won a £12,000 art commission funded by Peabody in 2021 to breathe new life into the space by covering the entire floor with an artwork. He was supported by a series of local graffiti artists, led by Cieron Peel. This additional mural commission, worth £6,000, saw the existing artworks on the brick walls of games area undergo a refresh.

Joseph’s eye-catching design, ‘Believe and Achieve’, was chosen by the wider community and The Cage TM group, which is made up of local residents who were involved in the entire commissioning process. To create the artwork Joseph hosted a series of sports workshops at the Cage with support from The Cage TM group. He then used photographs from the sessions to create the silhouettes.

The floor mural took six days to complete with the help of professional painters Gavin McPhail and Gabriel Pitcher from creative consultancy Wood Street Walls. The walls of the Cage have also been covered with a series of new artworks thanks to a project titled ‘Made In The Manor’, led by Cieron Peel. The project involved some of the original artists who returned to recreate their artworks. They’re a welcome addition to a series of new murals that make up Thamesmead’s growing street art trail.

Joseph said: “The Cage is a place where I’ve been, it’s where I grew up,” he said. “Now after many years I’m back here trying to rebuild something positive for young people and give back to the community, which is very important to me.

“The artwork is called ‘Believe and achieve’. My aim for when you go into that colourful space is that you feel positive — like you can become a leader for tomorrow. That’s what the workshops prior to the design were about — bringing young people together, getting them to really enjoy themselves and stay away from negativity.”

Cieron said: “The ‘Made In The Manor’ mural means a lot to us, especially since it’s right here in the heart of Thamesmead, our hometown, the place that shaped us. This piece, crafted by genuine local graffiti artists well-known for their authenticity, is like a living history of Thamesmead’s graffiti scene. It’s a tribute to the art we live and breathe, representing our community’s passion, determination, resilience, and raw talent.”

Adriana Marques, Peabody’s Head of Cultural Strategy for Thamesmead, said: “This project is an incredible example of a community group taking the lead. The Cage TM Group has worked so hard and done a fantastic job in selecting Joseph and Cieron to bring bold and authentic artworks back to a much-loved community space. It’s an inspiring way of merging art and sport, and supporting local people's aspirations for their neighbourhood.”

Dominika Kieruzel, one of The Cage TM group members who judged the commission entries, said: “Based on my conversations with local kids, they’re really excited about the Cage. I think that part of the reason is the space feels much safer, all of the colours are really cheerful and the facilities are better.”

The artworks were carried out as part of Peabody’s £4.48m South Thamesmead Garden Estate (STGE) programme which is a collaboration between designers muf architecture/art, Peabody, The Mayor of London, Groundwork and a dedicated group of residents – the Community Design Collective (CDC).

Now that the Cage refurbishment is complete, the resident group is planning a programme of sports events and activities that will allow the space to be used in different ways. They also plan to screen Joseph’s documentary, which chronicles the project from inception to completion, at a location in Thamesmead next spring.

Find out more about Joseph’s work here and Cieron’s work here. Find out more about the South Thamesmead Garden Estate here.

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

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