More than 100 young people took part in Trust Thamesmead's three-day graffiti art project in the ball court at Wolvercote Road on Monday 2 August, which saw the Mayor of the London Borough of Bexley, Councillor Val Clark attend to view the artwork and speak to the young people, saying: “This is fantastic work and a great project.”
The project was a real community effort, which began when Trust Thamesmead received an email from budding artist, 19 year old Darren Wells who travels to Thamesmead every day for work, with the idea of brightening up the area with a form of art.
Trust Thamesmead took the idea to Thamesmead Youth Voice, a group of 11-19 year olds who meet on a weekly basis and have previously helped the Trust to gain a £5m grant for a new community hub, The Link Thamesmead that will have an emphasis on young people, which opens next year.
The group liked the idea of brightening up the area and chose graffiti as the art form and were looking forward to getting involved and being creative.
Janice and Darren travelled around Thamesmead and chose the ball court in Wolvercote Road which is used by young people, as the site for the artwork. They took the idea to Gallions Housing Association who own the ball court and to the Thamesmead East Safer Neighbourhood Team who agreed to fund the project through the Police Property Act Fund; money that is raised from unclaimed items of lost or stolen property that goes to auction, which is then ploughed into local projects. The money was spent on overalls, face masks, gloves, spray paint and MDF as practice boards.
The walls were then sealed with sealant and then painted with white masonry paint by Community Packback, over three consecutive Wednesdays.
Project coordinator Darren Wells, who had never done anything on this scale before said: “This project has been a real learning curve for me. It was manic on the first day but by day two we got people working in teams and we could see the back wall taking shape. It was fantastic to see the progression in confidence and ability in the young people as the days went on.”
Fourteen year old participant and Thamesmead Youth Voice member Jerusha Frimpong, whose sister also attended said: “I enjoyed working with friends and others I had never met before in improving the look of the ball court for young people.” Her mother, Debbie Frimpong, who attended not only to view the artwork but also add some of her own, added: “It is great the Trust gave these young people the opportunity to choose what type of artwork they would like to see in Thamesmead. They listened to the young people and done something they wanted. They often feel their voice isn't heard but this proves it is and screams ‘When we can, we will.'”
Janice went on to say: “The three days were a great success, it not only gave young people new skills and experiences, it gave them the chance to take ownership of the ball court and will lead to forward planning with our partners in establishing a young persons programme including usage of the ball court.”