Prosecco was opened, cheers were shared, and a ribbon was cut at the grand opening of Hackney-based artist Rose Hill’s mural in Tower Hamlets yesterday (October 12), wrapping up eight months’ worth of efforts that involved crowdfunding, arts classes, and the process of painting the mural itself when all the preparations came together.
The mural, 22 metres by eight metres on the borough’s Sundial Centre, took “14 days of teamwork” to complete according to Hill, in an endeavour that began as an effort to help inspire, improve mental health and facilitate creativity in the local residents and centre visitors.
“It’s incredible to see after week one just what a difference It’s made to the community,” Rose Hill told ELL. “The connections made, a sense of belonging, and the self-worth it’s given people. We didn’t only paint a massive wall mural and make Tower Hamlets/ Hackney a more cheerful and welcoming place to live, but brought people together.”
The Sundial Centre is both a day care centre and a community centre for older people. Plenty of the centre’s frequent visitors attended the arts workshops set up by Hill, and even helped to paint the mural over the span of two weeks.
The art workshops were part of Hill’s efforts to raise funds for the painting of the mural, and they largely involved lessons in colour theory and design.
Joy Godsell, a regular at the Sundial Centre who contributed to the project and attended the workshops, told Eastlondonlines: “Rose taught us some basic art, which was new to me.
“I’m not an artist at all, but she taught us a little about the theory of colour, and the theory of patterns, and other things that I thought ‘wow!’. She used the doodles that we locals made, just off the cuff.”
Godsell was responsible for the lace rope design, which was placed over the mural by the centre’s entrance and put together through a handcrafting technique known as tatting – turning lace into a series of knots and ropes.
Justina, another of the project’s participants, added: “We started doing the project with Rose, and it was for about six weeks.
“We had to choose shapes and colours to try and blend with the wall, and we all had different ideas. Today, I’m looking at the wall and it’s very beautiful, because I can see where I’ve done my stripes and my dots, and it looks really nice.”
Another of the projects major contributors told ELL: “It’s actually amazing to look at something and know you designed that, and that everyone’s going to see it and everyone loves it.”
The mural can be seen and visited by anyone at the Sundial Centre, on Shipton Street in Bethnal Green.
Hill told ELL: “It’s wonderful to see just what a difference it’s made to the community. The connections made, a sense of belonging, and the self-worth it’s given people. We brought people together and the workshops and massive mural created a focal point for a community, talking point, somewhere to gather, something that captures a sense of place for residents, workers and passers-by. It is a destination for others to visit and a place which people can be proud of.”
The ribbon was cut at 12pm, with many of the Sundial Centre’s regulars, as well as project participants gathered to witness the opening and help celebrate it with clinking glasses of prosecco and excited cheers, bringing the community together.
Hill reflected: “I started this fantastic project to help people and to add value to the community’s lives!
“It means more to me than you can ever know! I feel like everything I’ve done in my career has led me to this point; teaching at the V&A museum and creating murals around London and Japan have given me the skills and experience to make this a success and create a legacy for each of these communities we work with.”
This isn’t the end for Hill’s local community projects, as she has similar ambitions lined up in the pipeline, set to continue painting at youth centres, estates and local schools in Lewisham, Southwark, Stoke Newington, Aourir Morocco and Stamford Hill.
For more details about Rose Hill’s previous projects, you can learn more on her website.