was fortunate, in Summer 2014 to be selected to design a mural for the
champfered corner of a new apartment block under construction in Wenlock
Road, Shoreditch, N1. The mural was to be just under 14 metres high
by three metres wide.
I tend to think in stories. It's not easy to design for a vertical surface,
and so for inspiration, I looked around for a narrative. I found this
the early hours of Tuesday 10th September 1940, local families left
their homes in Shoreditch to take refuge in a public air raid shelter
set up the basement of Wenlock Brewery. That night an air raid took
place that continued until the early hours of the morning, when violent
explosions blocked the exits of the shelter. Some of the brewery workers
who had been trapped discovered their one escape route to be through
small glass gratings set in the pavement above. They formed a human
pyramid to climb to safety.
(You can read more about this incident in Brewery History
the online journal of the Brewery History Society http://www.breweryhistory.com/journal/archive/112/bh-112-003.html)
image of the human pyramid caught my imagination: symbolising teamwork,
co-operation and human strength, and in that particular case illustrating
a significant part of our history; a period of unrelenting daily terrors,
hardship and endurance.
recent years the human pyramid has been a symbol for celebration and
cooperation. What better motif for a new building emerging out of the
recent years of austerity and financial insecurity?
I proposed a mural design that would connect all these ideas, and give
the community a talking point, a waymarker: something to take ownership
of. I thank Hackney Borough Council for approving my design, One Housing
Group for offering this unique opportunity, United Living for providing
the ‘canvas’ and Formation Architects for steering the brief
and championing my work.
the installation of the mural here