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Lewisham celebrates community heroes with large public artworks

Lewisham Legends are unveiled as the borough celebrates local icons, change-makers and activists with six giant murals.

Black woman, with short black afro hair, wearing a yellow top stands in front of a mural which has lots of bright coloursSix stunning murals of Lewisham Legends, created by local artists, have been revealed at Lewisham Shopping Centre as part of the We Are Lewisham legacy of the year as Sadiq Khan’s London Borough of Culture.

Lewisham’s people have always been proud to stand up for equality and social justice. At the heart of this are the change-makers – both past and present - who have had the courage to shake things up for the good of their communities.

Earlier this year, the Council asked residents to nominate which legends or local heroes they wanted to see celebrated with public artworks.

Hundreds of nominations were sent in - both online and via the mobile post-box – indicating the huge numbers of people in the borough going above and beyond to champion their communities. These are the figures whose legacies will be honoured through these public works of art.

Sybil Phoenix by Boudicca Collins

Sybil Phoenix MBE, OBE began her long history of social activism after moving with her husband Joe to Lewisham in 1963. As a champion of young, Black voices, she has helped transform thousands of lives in the borough and beyond.

Buckthorne Cutting Nature Reserve by Roshn

Anna Maria Cahalane and partner Nick were nominated for their phenomenal efforts in driving forward the Buckthorne Nature Reserve - to protect the rail-side habitat for wildlife and for residents.

Celebrating Lewisham Educators by Shauna Blanchfield

This interactive piece is dedicated to all the incredible educators and school staff who have such a positive impact on our children and young people. The artist invites you to pick a piece of chalk and add a tribute to the person who inspired your educational journey.

Ono Dafedjaiye by Molly Hankinson

Ono was nominated for her trailblazing work in making the creative arts more inclusive for other people with learning disabilities. She does this as part of the team at the charity Heart n Soul, in her show for Soho Radio and serving on the board at The Albany.

S-Factor Athletics Academy by Damian Simon

The team at S-Factor Athletics is based at Ladywell Arena. They received countless nominations for creating an inclusive sports environment where young people of varying abilities can come together to enjoy training and friendly competition.

Volunteers Across The Borough by Emma Barnie

This artwork is dedicated to all the incredible volunteers and organisations who give up their time to make a positive difference in the community. From food banks, to online support services, to befrienders and the list goes on.

London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said:
“The Lewisham Legends murals are a fantastic way to celebrate local people who have changed Lewisham and will be an enduring tribute to its time as the Mayor of London’s London Borough of Culture. Art has always played a pivotal role in social justice movements throughout history, so it’s a fitting way to be honouring the legacies of these change-makers.”

Cllr James J. Walsh, Cabinet Member for Culture, said:
“Social activism is in Lewisham’s DNA so it was important to honour that as part of our year as London Borough of Culture 2022. When we asked residents to nominate their Lewisham Legends we never dreamed we’d get such a huge response. It just goes to show how many community champions we have in the borough – they are all winners.

“We are so pleased to celebrate and share these six Lewisham Legends - some of the driving forces behind what makes this borough such a special place. Thank you so much to the artists – who are all local – and have done an incredible job creating these stunning murals which now stand tall around Lewisham Shopping Centre.”

Paul Redden, Lewisham Shopping Centre Director, Landsec:
“The shopping centre prides itself in being the heart of the community and we were honoured to be asked to host the Lewisham Legends murals as part of the London Borough of Culture 2022.

“They have added a warmth and vibrancy to our Centre. In addition, they are great conversational pieces and we have received fantastic feedback from our guests.”

Ono Dafedjaiye said:
“I’m so excited to be part of this amazing project. I love what I do. I’m passionate about making a difference to the lives of other people with learning-disabilities. So to be recognised for it is a huge honour. Thank you so much to everybody who nominated me. And to Molly Hankinson for creating this incredible piece of art. It’s so surreal walking into the shopping centre and seeing myself on the wall. I love it though.”

Molly Hankinson, artist, said:
“For my Lewisham Legends mural I have celebrated Ono Dafedjaiye, and by extension the work of Heart N Soul in Deptford. Ono was the first member of staff with a learning disability to join Heart N Soul in 2005, and has been a long-standing member of their team.

“I hope that this mural celebrates her unwavering passion and advocacy for her work, as well as representing fundamental ideas which are unapologetic in their stance, in a bright, bold and celebratory way.”

Lewisham Legends is a project funded by the London Borough of Culture 2022 in partnership with Landsec. For more information, visit wearelewisham.com/lewishamlegends

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