SPACE Ilford’s billboard commission for 2022 has been co-created by the artist Djofray Makumbu with young people from Hainault Youth Centre (Redbridge Youth Services), and imagines a fun, alternative version of their borough.
The giant artwork can be seen outside the gallery at SPACE Ilford, at the rear of Redbridge Town Hall. Inspired by the local area of Redbridge, the young people have imagined a parallel universe, where unicorns fly, people grow butterfly wings and aliens have landed on the roof of the Town Hall. Their drawings represent the diversity of their neighbourhoods, and the billboard is an inclusive and joyful vision of life in Redbridge in the 21st century.
The artwork was created during a series of workshops held at Hainault Youth Centre with Djofray Makumbu. The youth centre participants created and illustrated the characters and provided the art direction for the work.
Djofray says: “I have been working on this billboard for a year. This was a new experience for me to work on this scale – it was such a great opportunity to work on a billboard. It was incredibly inspiring working with the kids at the youth centre, because I ended up hearing ideas and perspectives I had never thought of or seen before, and got the chance to incorporate these into the piece.
I showed an early draft of the design to the young people and they threw out all sorts of new ideas and suggestions, such as the character flying on a unicorn. I would never have thought of these things, so it was great to incorporate their ideas too. The young people drew pictures for me to go off and use as a reference, and I worked them into the final design. It was a really collaborative process – to hear their opinion and what they see and think the piece should look like. I think that really comes through in the final piece.”
About Djofray Makumbu
Djofray Makumbu is a British Congolese artist born and based in East London. He often works with friends and family when making his work which draws on his personal experiences and that of the people close to him. Recent works have focused on the shame and stigma of mental health difficulties, the pressures and violence of inner-city life from the perspective of young people and the joy of music and dancing. Djofray loves to mix up different techniques combining stop-motion animation, video footage, hand drawn and painted elements in moving image which are sometimes presented alongside live performances such as dance or scripted scenes. Each element in the work is carefully self-made, from hand built sets and hand stitched garments for Claymation characters to soundtracks that are developed closely with Djofray’s brother.
Djofray graduated from the BA Fine Art programme at Goldsmiths in 2018 and was awarded the Alumno/SPACE Studio Bursary as a result of his degree show exhibition. In 2020, Djofray won a Goldsmiths Exhibitions Hub commission, in partnership with the London Community Video Archive, to make Hello Mr Officer, a moving image work that sees young Black men from across London share their experiences of being harassed by the police. The work uses stop-motion, watercolour and rotoscope alongside archive material from The People’s Account (1987) by Ceddo Film Collective held in the LCVA archive. The work was exhibited at South London Gallery in 2021. In 2021, Djofray was awarded the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire award and also undertook a Guest Projects digital residency with the Yinka Shonibare Foundation.