How do I get involved?

Our workshop 'Neon Knights' workshop, led by Architects WSMS Studio took place on 2nd September. A future workshop called 'Mapping the Shield' will take place as part of the Illusionarium workshop.

Dates & Locations will be confirmed. Tickets Free for Romford / Collier Row Residents!

Book will be Via Eventbrite soon:

Neon Knights Workshop

Help us create an artwork in Neon Lights for Romford's Illusoinarium Festival

'Neon Knights' will be installed in central Romford as part of the Illusionarium Light Festival this Autumn, and we need resident 'knights' of Romford and Collier Row to tell us stories of the area and help us design it.

This event took place on the 2nd of September and the artwork is now being manufactured. For more details about the process of co-creation keep reading...

An inclusive, co-created public artwork for Romford - in full colour and up in lights

The brief we set ourselves

About this Artwork

Neon Knights is a collaborative artwork that explores the relevance of urban symbols in the collective imagination. It has been produced by WSMS Studio, an architecture and urban design studio together with the help of members of the local community, via a process of urban design exploration.

The final artwork is a modern take on the historic coats of arms or crests worn by medieval knights  -  a concept which was inspired by Romford's historic roots as a medieval market town.

Whilst crests of old were badges of honour and status symbols passed down through a strict hierarchy, neon knights subverts this tradition to make a crest that aims to share status and invite collaboration in not only its creation but also with its interpretation.

The symbolic aspects of the artwork are not only accessible and intended to be interpreted personally by audiences, they are humorous and true to the nature of the creative process. No specialist knowledge is required to understand this artwork and residents will hopefully be able to identify and connect with many of the symbols, stories and places referred to in the artwork.

The process of creation itself is no less part of the artwork than the final light fitting. Residents were invited to become 'neon knights' to participate in the co-creation of the artwork. Through drawing, games and discussion, participants were asked to put forward their stories and perceptions of their town. Participation was entirely voluntary and throughout activities, residents were encouraged to engage with others in a way that was both sociable and creative. The process was structured, but ultimately experimental, to avoid the risk of a pre-determined outcome.

The artwork and the process of creation, crosses boundaries between performance art, visual art, community engagement and urban design. In doing so it tries to highlight to participants that creativity and participation in the development of the city environment is something that includes all of us. It asks both literally and figuratively: How is community created? and, How can the way we interact with our urban environments can change our lives and the way we connect with others? As with much of WSMS Studio's work, this project also questions the role of designers and planners in the way they engage with the community in meaningful ways

How do you co-create an artwork?

This artwork is as much about process as it is about the final artwork. We have designed a process that will allow members of the local community to input meaningfully into the process whether they consider themselves to be artists or not.

Below are the 4 main activities that will feed into the process of co-creation to the final artwork:

Photographic Journey

We asked a local participant to produce a photographic study of a journey between Romford town centre and Collier Row. The route was left to choice and we asked our resident artist to take pictures of any important landmarks, objects, or patterns that they felt helped them recognise and navigate their route. These photographs will be used as part of an artistic process to create a series of symbols representing the journey and will be turned into a game as part of the workshop.

Send us a Postcard of Ideas

We have sent out postcards to the community, asking them to sketch or describe the symbols and landmarks that make them think of Romford. These have been distributed in Romford and Collier Row and more are available to download below if you would like to participate.

Neighbourhood Narratives

Simply put, this is story-telling. We will be asking participants of the workshop to tell us their stories of the area. These might be historical, personal or about daily life in the area. By sharing stories, we can better sense of what is important and meaningful about the area.

Graphic Facilitation Workshop

This is how we turn words and ideas into images. Our workshop facilitators will translate ideas and discussions into graphic format and we will be encouraging participants to get drawing and collaging too.

Workshops and Process

The workshop activities investigated how to use the idea of ‘urban story-telling’ to co-create a unique and meaningful artwork as part of a local community group. See our gallery below for more images from the 'Light Cafe' evening of conversation, drawings and games.

We also invite residents to continue the conversation by sending in their drawings, poems, or suggestions ansering the following questions:

What gives your neighbourhood a sense of place, ie, what makes it unique?

How would you help a stranger find their way around in a way this was interesting and enjoyable?

What are the landmarks, rituals, memories and symbols that best represent the area? How can we start to translate these into a language of design?

Future 'conversations' will be uploaded to this website and will influence the design and content of future workshops.

Postcards From Romford

If you were unable to participate in our workshop, please show us your drawings or decribe your ideas on the back of a postcard. What are the symbols and landmarks we should be looking at? What are the local stories we need to know about? The boldest and best may also be used in the final designs!

Download postcard
Email finished postcard

Project Gallery