Mosaic designer Tessa Hunkin discusses The Hackney Mosaic Project and how they are transforming the narrative of community and public art.
The Hackney Mosaic Project was set up in 2011, initially as a 6 month project to create two wall mosaics to commemorate the London Olympics. The challenge was to try and rescue both ‘community art’ and ‘public art’ from their dismal reputation for ugliness and irrelevance.The idea was to design something that would harness the therapeutic power of making - what used to be called handiwork- to help a group of marginalised people and at the same time to make public works that could be genuinely enjoyed by everyone.
Nine years and many mosaics later the project hopes they have demonstrated that community art doesn’t have to be ugly and badly made. But finding a convincing language for public art that speaks to everyone in a diverse city remains a huge challenge.