A collaboration between Peabody and Tate Modern sees the unveiling of the Thamesmead Codex by renowned artist Bob and Roberta Smith. A series of 24 paintings will capture local residents’ experience of life on one of Britain’s largest and most ambitious modernist towns.
Open to the public from 25 June for 10 weeks and produced by Illuminate Productions, the exhibition forms part of Peabody’s energetic cultural strategy for Thamesmead and Tate Modern’s wider community partnership programme. Interviewing a range of local residents over the past two years from some of Thamesmead’s first residents to shop keepers, musicians, religious leaders, healthcare professionals, local entrepreneurs, students and artists, Bob and Roberta Smith has recorded first-hand tales and experiences, which together weave a picture of how the area has transformed over the decades. These placard paintings reveal the often hidden stories behind a community: fascinating pasts, surprising presents and hopeful futures. Alongside illustrative transcripts of these conversations, Bob has painted images of the historic estate as it might appear in a dream, perhaps the one imagined by the first architects for Thamesmead.
“We can look at Thamesmead and create false assumptions about the area based on stories we may have heard or read about,” said Bob and Roberta Smith. “We could feel excited or oppressed by its utopian architecture, but by listening to the people who live on the estate or who are associated with it, who have diverse histories and stories to tell, we can get a clearer and more resonant impression of what the area is really like. That’s what we want to achieve with this exhibition.”
Adriana Marques, Peabody’s Head of Thamesmead Cultural Strategy: “Thamesmead has such a rich and diverse history and there’s no better way to capture that than through the people who call it home. It’s been a pleasure working with such a renowned artist – Bob and Roberta Smith – who continued to collaborate with local residents through the pandemic and has done an amazing job to capture this unusual moment. Held in partnership with Tate Modern, the exhibition is a fantastic opportunity right on Thamesmead’s doorstep. Delivering high-quality cultural experiences is part of our cultural mandate and is important for fostering and inspiring green-roots culture as well as putting Thamesmead on the map as a cultural hub.”
Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern: “As Tate Modern reopens its doors and welcomes visitors again, we’re thrilled to be reaching local communities, areas and audiences here in London. A project such as Thamesmead Codex, which sees transnational themes and personal stories mingling, seems all the more timely and vital given the experiences of the past year. We are delighted to have collaborated with Bob and Roberta Smith, strengthening a long-lasting relationship with the artist, as well as Peabody, contributing to Thamesmead’s rich cultural heritage. Connected as we are by the river, it’s wonderful to see great art flowing to audiences in Thamesmead.”
Alongside Thamesmead Codex, there will be running a series of interactive workshops related to the exhibition.
The Thamesmead Codex will be on display to the public: Friday 25th June – Sunday 5th September. Opening hours: Thursday-Saturday 1pm-7pm, Sunday 12-5pm.
Address: Cannons Retail Park, Twin Tumps Way, Thamesmead town centre, SE28 8RD