Comedian Russell Brand revealed how community spirit can transform urban spaces when he unveiled the result of nine month’s hard work by a local charity in Hackney Downs yesterday.
A “curious structure” in Hackney Park was transformed into an impressive piece of artwork by The Hackney Mosaic Project, a scheme founded by artist Tessa Huskin to improve public spaces.
Volunteers were recruited from the community as well as from the charity Lifeline, which aids the recovery of those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction problems.
Speaking at the official unveiling, Brand said: “This is a symbol of what we can achieve when we come together and work together. It’s something the community can be proud of.”
Local councillor Jonathan McShane, who was with Brand at the ceremony, added: “The volunteers have worked with extraordinary dedication and care, coming together to create a really beautiful work that will be enjoyed by local people for years to come.”
Huskin, who’s project was inspired by the “great heritage of Roman mosaics”, is “delighted” with the finished product, admitting that when she started she was not sure how much the team would be able to accomplish. She said: “People worked so hard and far faster than I imagined. It was amazing what we managed to achieve.”
“It is really touching to see children going up to the mosaic and stroking the animals whilst getting to learn their names.’
She added: “As a local celebrity, Russell was the perfect person to unveil the project as he is sympathetic to people with addiction problems – he’s been there himself. He’s a great way of breaking the stigma of addiction. He’s a great ambassador for successful recovery.”