The Creative Knowledge Project is a 12-month artist residency based at the new Lakeside Centre, Thamesmead. This year-long residency – with accommodation and studio space – is a rare and exciting opportunity for an artist to live and work on the water’s edge of one of the most iconic Brutalist estates of the 1960s, working with the community to explore the potential for their new library building.
A new state of the art library is being built in Thamesmead by Peabody and the London Borough of Bexley as part of London’s largest regeneration programme. The Creative Knowledge Project aims to empower the existing communities of Thamesmead to question what a library can be during the library’s building phase, shaping the future of the building through creative processes. The project will be led by the London Borough of Bexley and Peabody, and will involve two local cultural organisations: Bow Arts, who will commission an artist in residence to open up local discussions on the library; and fine art makers Rima & McCrae who specialise in custom interior and bespoke surfaces. The project is funded by Arts Council England through a grant to London Borough of Bexley.
The building of a new library space in the current climate is a feat worth celebrating, and the project opens up questions about how communities and public learning spaces interconnect today. The artist in residence will work for 12 months during the design and build of the library (due to open spring / summer 2021). The resident artist will be based at a residential flat at Bow Arts’ newly opened Lakeside Centre, which sits opposite the new library site across Thamesmead’s Southmere Lake. The Lakeside Centre will house artist studios as well as a café, training kitchens, nursery and roof terrace – which boasts an incredible panoramic view of the iconic Brutalist towers across the beautiful Southmere Lake.
The district of Thamesmead lies across the London boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich, built on former marshland on the south bank of the River Thames. The area has a rich history dating back to the Roman times, and most notably was used as a Royal Arsenal site from the 17th century until the 1950s (extending over 1,000 acres across Plumstead and Erith Marshes). The Crossness Pumping Station – a magnificent Victorian Grade 1 listed building built in the Italianate style – is just down the road from the Lakeside centre, an integral part of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s redesigning of London’s sewer system in the 1860s. Thamesmead’s iconic Brutalist housing opened in the late 1960s and its futuristic designs became well-known through photography and films such as A Clockwork Orange and Beautiful Thing. Built on former marshland, Thamesmead is incredibly biodiverse and boasts several nature reserves, including Southmere Park which flanks Southmere Lake.
Peabody now owns the majority of the Thamesmead’s housing and land, including over 200 acres of development space. The Greater London Authority are providing £47.5 million investment to deliver two housing zones as part of the Mayor of London’s Housing Zone programme, together with new transport infrastructure from Transport for London, including the new Elizabeth (Crossrail) line service at Abbey Wood station. With an incredibly diverse demographic, Thamesmead has a vibrant local community and has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Every year Thamesmead also celebrates its arts and culture through the annual Thamesmead Festival (14 June – 3 August 2019).
The Creative Knowledge Project will tackle the important conceptual question of what a library can be in the 21st century – exploring the impact libraries have made on so many in the past and the challenges libraries are today facing nationally. Bexley is investing where it can in new libraries, and the partnership with Peabody to develop a new landmark library is indicative of the importance placed on libraries in Bexley as vital community hubs.
The artist in residence will work with local residents to shape a public building that feels owned by and relevant to its future everyday users. The residency will also aim to create sustainable links between Thamesmead’s two new civic buildings – the newly opened Lakeside Centre and the coming library. With this in mind, the residency might act as a test bed for community driven activity that could find a permanent home in the future library building, taking advantage of its planned community spaces.
The project is a rare and exciting opportunity for an artist to be part of one of London’s biggest regeneration programmes, highlighting the importance of creativity, knowledge and culture within communities.
The residency will be community focused, with the aim of engaging local residents in the new library and its future-planned activity. The residency includes accommodation in the Lakeside Centre, studio space, an artist fee and materials budget (see full breakdown below). Bow Arts will manage and support the residency and the artist will also have the opportunity to work with the library architects and fine art makers Rima & McCrae.
The residency should include:
- Participatory workshops with local residents to form content for tangible outcomes.
- Ways of engaging local communities into thinking about what a library in the 21st Century means to them / what they want from their local library.
- Open studio events that invite residents into the resident artist’s space.
- A residency legacy / output (bearing in mind the spaces between the Lakeside Centre and new Library).
We are open to all media and approaches, though the residency should leave a lasting legacy that reflects local input.
The residency will provide:
- A live / work residential flat in the Lakeside centre for 12 months (equivalent to £9,920 to cover rent and utilities)
- Use of a dedicated studio space in the Lakeside Centre (equivalent to £8,958 to cover studio rent and utilities)
- £10,000 artist fee, to include all time across the 12 month period.
- £6,000 materials and equipment budget
- Up to £10,000 outcome budget, for all costs associated with any production, fabrication or tangible outcomes of the residency.
This contract is supported by Bow Arts, Peabody, London Borough of Bexley, with generous financial support from Arts Council England.
The residency length is 12 months and would preferably start with the Lakeside Centre launch in October 2019, though the start date could be flexible to accommodate the resident’s needs.
Part of this residency includes accommodation through a Live Work flat, with the intention that the artist make connections through living in the Thamesmead community. However, should this living situation not be practical for an applicant, the residency could be shared between an artistic partnership. For example, shared between two artists at different stages in their career – i.e. an artist living off-site (the mentor) and an artist living in the Live Work flat (the mentee). If you would like to explore a partnership of this kind, please outline how this might work in your application.
How to Apply
The application process will take place in two stages.
Stage 1 Expression of interest
To apply, please send your CV and a portfolio / link to relevant website for images, together with a cover letter of no more than 750 words, outlining:
- How your practice engages with this brief / your interest in this opportunity.
- How this residency supports your career development.
- Your relevant experience for this residency.
Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following subject line:
Deadline: Tuesday 27 August 2019
Stage 2 Invitation to interview & produce proposal
A shortlist of applicants will be invited to interview and produce a more extended proposal for the residency. You will be notified of this invitation by Tuesday 3 September, with interviews taking place the week commencing 16th September. A fee of £150 will be offered to all shortlisted applicants to produce a more extended proposal.
The proposal should expand on the themes in your work that engage with this residency and outline your strategies for community engagement. Proposals will be accepted in PDF / Powerpoint format and should be no more than 10 pages long with illustrations / images. It is encouraged that ideas for community engaging activity are included, together with any early thoughts of a project legacy (though we understand that these may not be fully formed).
It is suggested that applicants should have:
- A portfolio of work that demonstrates independent working, project work and / or work that responds to a budgeted brief.
- Experience of leading workshops / working with a community, or a proven desire to develop this experience with some evidence of steps taken to do so.
- A flexible approach to working that bears in mind the focus / direction of the residency alongside the development of the Library.
- Enthusiasm and ideas around exploring the potential for creative learning.
The selection process will be interview-led by the Bow Arts team, with colleagues from London Borough of Bexley and Peabody Trust.
Photo © Alberto Ramano