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Piecing together community: Hackney Mosaic Project

hackney downs playground

By Tiziana Murgo

When I first read a leaflet about a community group in my local park which focused on mosaics, I had just had my first baby and felt desperate to leave the house and do something meaningful other than looking after my new-born. To go out, but not too far. The mosaics group sounded ideal as they met in my local park, Hackney Downs, where I regularly walk.

I met the lovely people of the Hackney Mosaic Project in 2012, on a day they happen to be having a democratic vote on the options for their next project. I was immediately involved on the vote, after options and location were explained to me. The result of that process and the following months’ work is the great mosaic installed in the playground shelter of Hackney Downs Park.

I do really invite you to have a look at this mosaic, representing wild animals most of which can be found in Roman mosaics. A crocodile, a boar, a stork, a zebra, a camel etc, even an okapi (an African animal whose existence was only confirmed by the Europeans in 1901). The piece is grand, and it couldn’t be better located. It represents a great piece of culture for the community and a great learning opportunity for the kids.

You will not only be drawn in to have a close look at this beautiful art technique used here, but the kids will be intrigued by the animals and will want to know what their names are, while school children will be spelling out their names.

What was once a dilapidated shelter in the middle of the park is now a piece of educational art.

The project is not just about art and broken tiles, it is also about putting lives together, building a new community and sharing a vision.

So, who are the people behind this project? They are the Hackney Mosaic Project. A community project led by renowned mosaicist Tessa Hunkin who works with dedicated volunteers with the aim to help individuals with addiction and mental health problems but also to improve community relations.

They have received commissions by The London Zoo, Saint Ann Hospital, West Hackney Recreation Ground at St. Paul Church, Whipsnade Zoo, among others and their works are really appreciated across London. School children from Grasmere Primary School collaborated with the group to create a mosaic in Albion Parade, Stoke Newington.

It is a community project, so everyone can turn up and participate. Tessa and her group are always very welcoming and warm. They meet at the Hackney Downs Pavilion every Wednesday from 2pm to 5pm and every Thursday from 10.30am to 5pm and every other Saturday from 2pm to 5pm. Children over 10 are welcome if accompanied by an adult. 

They are always pleased to accept public and private commissions and currently running a Go Fund Me Campaign to raise money to cover the costs of renting the space and production materials. 

For more information, visit www.hackney-mosaic.co.uk

*Photos by Hackney Mosaic Project

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