Literary mural brings love of books to Dalston square

PIC: Hackney Council

Local artists are asking Hackney residents to submit their favourite first sentences from books to be hand-painted by artists for a public art installation on hoardings next to Dalston CLR James Library.  

‘First Words in Dalston’, painted on hoardings beside the library, currently showcases over 50 sentences from beloved books in the library.

The artists hope the installation will encourage locals to visit the community library as it reopens after being shut for months due to numerous lockdowns. 

The artists behind the creative wall, Mike Abrahams and Francesca Guiliano said: “People feel really isolated during lockdown as so many of our cultural activities have been closed… Those who have participated in contributing the first sentences of books or poems they love are providing opportunity for essential human connection as well as helping everyone enjoy art outside of the traditional gallery context. 

“We also believe that engaging in art can encourage better mental health and we’re hoping First Words in Dalston will help people reconnect with art as the world starts opening up again. We hope it will create a sense of pride, help bring people together and brighten up the community.” 

Abrahams and Guiliano hope to reach 250 submissions from Hackney residents by summer, and to expand the artwork are looking to create a sonic soundscape which can be heard as you walk past. Dependent on funding between summer-autumn 2021 a series of occasional events by writers, poets and others are to be hosted beside the community art work.

The two artists approached Hackney council late 2020 with the art idea aiming to appreciate the importance of a library and be inclusive of the community. They were told about the 76-week program of recladding in the area next to the library which they saw with a creative eye as a 250m “blank canvas”.

Sue Comitti, Head of Hackney Libraries said: “This eye-catching project brings stories into the open air and after a year of lockdown and isolation, is a great way to bring people together again to share their love of reading. First Words In Dalston is also a great way to remind residents that the Libraries are re-opening and ready to welcome old and new faces back after a difficult year.”

Residents who want to take part simply chose their favourite first sentence from any book expected to be inside the Dalston CLR James library. Click here for more info and to be a part of the community art.

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