Thursday 3 Feb 2022
How the Hackney Downs mural came to life: a community joins together
- Region & Route:
- Eastern: Anglia
An inspirational new mural is greeting passers-by and passengers at Hackney Downs station, brought to life thanks to a joint effort by local young people, artists, Hackney Arts, Hackney Council, Network Rail and Arriva Rail London.
Completed at the end of last year, the mural was created by artist Hannah Dickins and musician Hak Baker in collaboration with young people from Hackney-based community organisation, Rise 365.
Its design emerged from weekly workshops with members of Rise 365, which involved the participants using creativity to explore their experiences and self-expression.
Founded by youth worker Joyclen Buffong, Rise 365 provides young people with services and opportunities to help them reach their goals. Its name stands for “reach, inspire, support and empower”.
The project was produced by arts organisation Hackney Arts and funded by Arts Council England.
Hackney Arts suggested the side of Network Rail’s bridge at Hackney Downs as an ideal site for the mural, and then worked with Hackney Council and railway colleagues to get the necessary permissions put in place.
Whenever companies, community groups or members of the public are carrying out activities on or near the railway, they have to contact a special team within Network Rail which helps to make sure that the works are delivered safely. The team reviews plans and supervises works to protect the people involved in the project, as well as passengers and railway staff.
Arriva Rail London, which manages Hackney Downs station and operates the London Overground trains that stop there on behalf of Transport for London, also lent their assistance by providing storage space for the materials used to paint the mural.
It follows the installation of a separate ground-breaking exhibition of photographs and stories under Hackney Central railway bridge last year, which was also supported by Network Rail, Transport for London and Hackney Council.
Musician Hak Baker, co-creator of the mural, said: “It’s important for young people to have people that look, act and feel like them as potential role models. Even though I hate that word! It warmed my heart to see how much it meant for them to be represented in their hometowns. I feel this is just the start.”
Artist Hannah Dickins, co-creator of the mural, said: “Hak and I designed a series of workshops for the young people of Rise 365, building key skills to amplify their voices through creative writing and design.
“For the final mural, Hak and I wanted to create a piece of public art that was relatable to all, but first and foremost a tribute to the amazing young people we had the privilege to work with. Their sense of community and openness has taught us both so much. I cannot wait to see what they all do next!”
Bhavik Parmar, station portfolio surveyor at Network Rail Anglia, said: “We are determined to support our local lineside communities wherever we can. We’ve loved seeing the imagination of the young people and artists come to life on our bridge wall and we know that it will brighten up journeys for our passengers too.”
Cllr Carole Williams, Hackney Council Cabinet lead for Equalities, said: “Thanks to a partnership between Hackney Council and Network Rail, we have another powerful example of how public art can be used to bring young people together and increase the representation of minoritised communities in public spaces. I'm sure this installation will make a real impression on the community and I’m glad we were once again able to work with the rail industry to enable this important piece of art.”
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