Jessie Brennan, community photoshoot for Royal Docks public art commission. Photography: Alastair Fyfe.

UP Projects has commissioned London-based artist Jessie Brennan to develop four new, temporary public artworks that will pilot an exciting programme of public art exploring the nature of life and work in the Royal Docks.

The commission, which has been initiated by the Royal Docks Team, a joint initiative from the Mayor of London and Mayor of Newham, is the first in a series of creative interventions that will signal a significant period of change in the Royal Docks, celebrate the area’s heritage, and engage locals and visitors with their surroundings - encouraging them to explore the Royal Docks through art, play, sound, light and performance.

In the lead up to this commission, Jessie Brennan has engaged the communities around these four gateway sites in order to research, explore and understand the historic and economic factors that have impacted the area and shaped its identity. The result is a series of large-scale wall-based artworks that weave together text, newly generated images and archival material, and which have been developed through dialogue between the artist and people who live and work in the area.

This commission will inform a new approach to public art in the Royal Docks. Having already undertaken extensive work in Newham working with Sonia Boyce on the Trackside Wall Commission with Crossrail, UP Projects are pleased to be continuing to work in this unique part of London, which is currently undergoing significant change.

This commission has been initiated by the Royal Docks Team and curated and produced by UP Projects. The commission will launch later this year.

About Jessie Brennan

Jessie Brennan is a visual artist whose previous projects have examined public housing and the politics of regeneration. Her practice is research-led and situated, exploring relations between places and people.Brennan graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007. She has exhibited extensively in the UK and Europe, and her work is held in public and private collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In spring 2017, the South London Gallery (SLG) invited Brennan to collaborate with residents on a project titled YOUR WORDS as part of their inaugural Open Plan residency on Pelican Estate. Recent exhibitions include: Re: development – Inside The Green Backyard, Carroll/Fletcher Onscreen, London (2017); If This Were to Be Lost, dalla Rosa Gallery, London (2016); RESIDENT, City Gallery & Museum, Peterborough (2016); Progress, The Foundling Museum, London (2014); Talents Contemporains, François Schneider Foundation, France (2014); Coup de Ville, WARP, Belgium (2013). Her authored books include Regeneration! (2015) and Re: development (2016). 

About the Royal Docks

The Royal Docks has been a global centre for innovation and industry since the 1800s. Established as the largest enclosed port in the world, it facilitated the movement of hundreds of thousands of cargoes and passenger ships, spawning settlements such as Canning Town and North Woolwich. Despite heavy bombing during the Blitz, the Royal Docks remained open during The Second World War and kept Britain supplied with food. As its industry was transformed by the containerisation of cargo, the area fell into decline, resulting in high levels of unemployment and social deprivation. In recent years, public and private sector investment has led to new commercial and residential developments across the area. In June 2017, the Mayor of London and Mayor of Newham approved £314m of investment for the Royal Docks that will fund transport and public realm improvements, help to create a mixed business eco-system and support a range of cultural and community-led projects.

Royal Docks Team

The Royal Docks Team is a joint initiative from the Mayor of London and Mayor of Newham, delivering a £314 million investment programme in the area over the next five years. Together with stakeholders and the community, the team is championing positive change and good growth in the Royal Docks.