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Creative Knowledge Project: Dunya Kalantery

Dunya Kalantery is artist-in-residence at Thamesmead's Lakeside Centre. Her residency is part of the Creative Knowledge Project, which looks to question what a library can be in the 21st century ahead of the new Thamesmead Library being built on Southmere Lake.

**LATEST NEWS** The Missing Pieces to Society podcast now live

Tune in to at midday on Tuesdays to listen to The Missing Pieces to Society, a four part radio show produced by young people from Thamesmead and Thamesmead artist-in-residence Dunya Kalantery. The first show will air on 18 Jan, then on 26 Jan, 2 Feb and 9 Feb. 

Click here to listen to the podcasts

The Missing Pieces to Society is a 4-part podcast discussing issues of contemporary identity, produced by the Creative Researchers - a group of nine young people from Thamesmead.  You’ll be hearing opinions from all of us, with honest discussions and vigorous debate on topics from double standards to discrimination; what causes insecurity, men who wear suits, and the importance of  friendship.

Our podcast is the outcome of a 4 month Participation Action Research project run by artist Dunya Kalantery as part of the Creative Knowledge Project - working with residents of Thamesmead in the run up to the opening of a new library on Southmere Square. It brings together ideas and creative research that we have developed on public space, care and knowledge over three months; looking into our own lives and our environments, the issues that impact us, which we want to be heard on.

The creative researchers are Julia Huynh, Michelle Ndlovu, Sarah Hocine, Maruf Chowdhury, Bianka Woode, Janice Aribisala, Daniel Kamere, Thelma Obirai and Sibo Ngile.

The Creative Knowledge Project is a partnership between Bexley Council, Peabody Housing Association and Bow Arts, funded by Arts Council England and supported by Peabody Housing Association. 


Dunya is currently working with local applied artist Rima & McRae and 120 eight and nine year-old children from Harris Garrard and Willow Bank primary, towards a collectively created series of sculptures, colour names and a book.

It’s 2090, and the island of Thamesmead is separated by waste water from the land mass of London. The island is populated solely by children, who have lost all knowledge of their adult foremothers - all of whom were lost in 2020 when Thamesmead flooded, causing absolute destruction. . The children run their own council; they sleep by the warmth of a never-ending fire; gather berries and herbs for their food; understand the world through technicolour; and live in harmony. They play among the marshes and the ancient concrete, and their days are focussed by a singular task: to gather remnants of their foremothers and understand their lost culture.

They collect artefacts from across the island, and process these artefacts by extracting colour -  grinding, picking, pulverising. They then bring these colours to council and through a process of touch, smell, taste, meditation and poetry they understand the behaviours of their foremothers, their needs, what healed them, their essence.

Images courtesy Dunya Kalantery & Rima & McRae


The Creative Knowledge Research Project is a paid opportunity designed and organised by Dunya Kalantery for a group of nine young people in Thamesmead aged 18-25, run in collaboration with Youth Development Coordinator Nadia Kassab. 

Through a Participation Action Research process the participants have been asked to research, reflect and take action on the social issues that affect their own lives and the places in which they live; focussing on the wealth of their own experience, knowledge, and their personal relationships. The public space, care and knowledge group meets weekly over Zoom to share creative research (writing, films, audio recordings and visual presentations) and reflections they have made in the previous week around issues that impact their lives. Beginning by deepening their understanding of public space, care, and the knowledge that is intrinsic to care, the group has been encouraged to evaluate and appreciate their own relationships and their values, to reflect on social dynamics, group dynamics, and to use their understanding to deepen the field of their own collective work.

Image courtesy Mohammed Chowdhury

This process of research and reflection is to be channelled towards a moment of creative action and public engagement in December 2020. Using methods of community engagement, the action will be a moment of communication with the public as well as something to learn from. The learnings, dreams and recommendations of the group - how they would like to see public space in Thamesmead and in the new Thamesmead Library - will be documented and made public.

This process will culminate in a youth-led public programme in the new Thamesmead Library, opening in 2022. 
We work under the principles of Participation Action Research, which those with lived experience - "are not just incidental to the curiosity of the researcher but are the masters of inquiry into the underlying causes of the events in their world.”

Creative Knowledge Project Overview

Dunya’s work focuses on the library as a space for producing and protecting community knowledge. She will begin by researching methods of archiving communal struggles and joys, looking at how and what we learn as a community, and how to activate those archives to strengthen social bonds and reinforce community space.

Dunya invites local residents to collaborate with her by imagining how the library could be used to create and consolidate space for community relationships, thinking about how digital interventions can be used to create stronger links between individuals, community and knowledge.

Check this page for coming events or email to find out more.

About Dunya

Dunya Kalantery is a first generation Londoner, based in London, with a background in community organising and a participatory art practice. She collaborates with communities and young people using a variety of practices – from film making to food growing – to engage with what she sees as the critical space between health, environment and community. Most recently, Dunya’s work has been driven by the concept of the body as an archive, informed by epigenetic research, which shows that through genetic expression, our bodies are archives of environmental, historical, and familial experience.

The Creative Knowledge Project is supported by Arts Council England, the London Borough of Bexley and Peabody Trust.