Employment Academy
Tuesday 17 September 2019
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Formerly homeless people help create aspirational sculpture

The Aspire sculpture at the Employment Academy
The Aspire sculpture at the Employment Academy

21 March 2013

14 formerly homeless people looking to get their lives back on track have helped internationally renowned artist Randy Klein to create a one-tonne metal sculpture in the courtyard of the new Thames Reach Employment Academy in Camberwell.

The 18 foot sculpture entitled Aspire – based around a 100 year-old spiral staircase which was an original feature of the restored Edwardian building which plays home to the academy – is being launched at a ceremony in March.

The Thames Reach Employment Academy is a new initiative run by the charity Thames Reach which will help thousands of long-term unemployed Londoners and formerly homeless people to get the support and training to find work.

The sculpture is intended as a focal point and object of inspiration for the people who use the academy’s services. The sculpture shows figures holding the tools they would use in the workplace ascending the spiral staircase, and represents people climbing towards success, a key aim of the Employment Academy.

The group of 14 formerly homeless people who use the services of Thames Reach all attended a series of workshops organised by the London Engineering Company which offered participants the chance to get hands-on work experience in steel fabrication and to assist in the creation of the sculpture.

Funding for the project came from the Peter Minet Trust and Oak Foundation.

Princess Dianmonique, who worked on the construction of the sculpture, said: “Getting the chance to work on this project was a real confidence booster – it had an inspirational effect on me and I’d recommend getting involved in this type of project to everyone.”

The artist Randy Klein, said: “The sculpture breathes life into this wonderful 100 year old staircase and it is symbolic of people improving themselves and taking the steps up towards a better life.”

Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach director, said: “Randy’s involvement of service users in the construction of this sculpture reflects our approach which is to help people see their strengths and develop them.”

The launch takes place from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday, March 21 at the Thames Reach Employment Academy at 29 Peckham Road, Camberwell, London SE5 8UA.

There will an accompanying exhibition of Randy Klein sketches and models of the Aspire sculpture. The artist will be giving a free talk at the Employment Academy on Wednesday, March 13 at 1pm. Both events are open to the public.

If you would like to attend either event, please contact the Employment Academy on 0203 617 6070.

For a film about the making of the ASPIRE sculpture, see:


More information can be found on Klein’s website: