Sitting on the border of a post-Industrial east London and the shiny new excesses of the Olympic Park, White Post Lane in Hackney Wick is a street that is in the midst of a rebirth.
Thanks to the work of a local art collective called Bread and funding from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), ‘The Walls Have Ears’ mural has transformed what was six months ago an unremarkable road, into a symbol of the Olympic legacy.
Stretching 100 metres long, the piece of modern street art is made up of varying written designs, all references to Hackney Wicks’ industrial past.
Made up of four artists based in East London, the Bread collective engaged the local community to come up with a concept that represented the area and its people.
Victoria Walmsley, one of the artists involved, told ELL: “We got the community’s input by building a website, putting up posters, holding workshops with locals kids, interviewing people walking down the street and encouraging residents to email us their comments and thoughts.”
Each painting features words and phrases suggested by the local residents. Fridge Mountain, for example, is a reference to the area’s one time claim-to-fame – a 20ft high pile of home appliances – thought to be the highest in Europe.
Meanwhile Mint Cream is a reminder that Clarnico, one of Britian’s biggest confectionery companies, was located in Hackney Wick in the Post War era.
“The reason for focusing partly on the industrial history of the area is because this is what led to making it what it is today, in its geography, architecture and current community,” said Walmsley.
One of several street art projects to mark the Olympics, ‘The Walls Have Ears’ project falls under the LLDC’s charge to “promote and deliver physical, social, economic and environmental regeneration in the Olympic Park and surrounding area.”
Having transformed what was a road marked previously only by empty lots, the mural now serves as a showcase of the area’s creative heart. Part of a pilot scheme, Walmsley hopes the council will now consider making more spaces in the borough available to street art.
“Our main hope is that the council will now allow other local artists to take over streets in this way. It will make the local area more interesting,” she said.
Well received by locals, this mural is one example of how the Olympics has impacted the area. Walmsley believes, that with creatively at least, the Olympics has had a positive impact.