Shape Newham was launched by Newham Council in 2019 to co-design and install 18 imaginative and original public space improvement projects. The projects are varied and include artist installations, upgraded street furniture, pocket parks, public realm enhancements and youth-led murals.
Shape Newham delivers on a commitment from the Council to invest in all parts of Newham, including places outside of major regeneration areas. The projects are spread across Beckton, East Ham, Forest Gate, Green Street, Little Ilford, Manor Park, Maryland and Plaistow. The locations of installations in each of these areas were selected based on the preferences expressed by local residents during Shape Newham Assemblies in Autumn 2019.
To select the artists for the projects, an open Call for Artists was launched. 65 artists applied to collaborate as part of Shape Newham and three interview panels took place to select the artists, with over half of the panel members being local residents.
To develop the project designs, local communities were invited to attend Shape Newham Assemblies to set the project priorities. Residents were then invited to join Design Committees to oversee the development of concept designs. Following completion of concept designs, technical work was undertaken in preparation for installation. The first project was installed in Spring 2021 and installations have continued throughout 2021 and 2022.
Additionally three of the projects have been directly led by groups of young people from Beckton Youth Zone, Lister School, Forest Gate Youth Zone and Right & Equalities in Newham. The youth groups selected the artist they wanted to work with, chose the project locations, designed the artwork through participatory workshops and joined in with the painting of the final installations. These three murals were all installed in 2021.