Turner Prize-nominated artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd commissioned to create a new children’s soft play space

Tuesday, 05 August 2014


We are pleased to announce that we have commissioned artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (b. 1973, London) to conceive a new 21,000m3 soft play centre and café as part of the development of the new Abbey Leisure Centre in Barking and Dagenham, the London borough with the highest number of children under five years old.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (previously known as Spartacus Chetwynd) is a British artist whose practice includes performance, sculpture, painting and video. Her performances draw on the traditions of folk plays, carnivals and street spectacles, encompassing both classical references and popular culture. They feature handmade props, costumes and scenery, which often constitute sculptures and installations in their own right. Chetwynd’s work sees her blend folk traditions with sci-fi, 1960s ‘happenings’ and contemporary moral issues. She has previously addressed subjects as diverse as John Milton, Dante, The Addams Family and Star Wars.

The soft play centre will be a significant new sculptural work but one that children and their parents can enter inside and climb over. Chetwynd will work within the vernacular of traditional soft play whilst pushing the possibilities of how its structures and narratives can challenge and inspire the growing minds of children.

This major new permanent work of art will engage over 700,000 young children and families from across east London in its first ten years.

The Soft Play project is one of several in Barking and Dagenham currently being delivered by Create in partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council, including This Used to Be Fields and Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks. Together these three projects form part of an initiative to develop dynamic, intelligent, and challenging cultural projects in one of the most deprived boroughs in London.

Soft Play is delivered in partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council with support from the Arts Council of England.