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The Mosaic Makers Of Hackney Downs

June 6, 2014
by the gentle author

You may recall my friends the Mosaic Makers of Hoxton, led by artist Tessa Hunkin, who created the beautiful murals in Shepherdess Walk and Pitfield St last year. Now they have moved up to Hackney Downs, establishing their workshop in the pavilion and applying their magical talents to decorating an open air theatre in the children’s playground.

Already one panel is complete and I discovered Tessa and her team hard at work to fulfil their ambition of covering the entire theatre with mosaic by the autumn. Inspired by a trip to Jordan, Tessa revealed to me that her design is “loosely based upon Roman hunting scenes, but without the blood.” Each of the mosaic makers undertakes to create one of the animals and Tessa’s role is to unify their contributions into a harmonious whole. Up here at the top of Hackney, upon what was once an ancient piece of common land, it makes complete sense to come upon these fearsome wild creatures rendered in such magnificent timeless style.

Stalwarts from Hoxton, Nikky Turner and Ken Edwards were there to greet me as I entered the workshop where the mosaic makers sat around a large table, joined by new members as the enthusiastic band has grown. A hush of concentration prevailed, broken only by the incessant snapping of terrazzo being cut to size, rather like that of a band of squirrels cracking nuts. Two days a week you will find them there in the pavilion on Hackney Downs, and every other Saturday afternoon when anyone is welcome to lend a hand. “Being here in the park, we’ve had a quite a lot of local people come to join us,” Tessa admitted, “people between jobs or off work for some reason – and lots of Italians, mosaic is a magnet for Italians.”

Even as I sat with the mosaic makers, a man on a bicycle leaned in to deliver his verdict on the work so far. “If that mosaic was a meal, it’d be from a Michelin starred restaurant,” he declared authoritatively and cycled off down the path, leaving the makers to continue with their work in placid silence.

It has been inspiring to see Tessa Hunkin’s skilfully wrought mosaics come to fruition in recent years, enriching the environment of the East End with their lyrical imagery – and rare to come across works of art that successfully combine such a sophisticated aesthetic flair with a genuine popular appeal. Even with only one panel finished, it is already possible to deduce how spectacular the entire work on Hackney Downs will be and now I cannot wait to go back after the summer and see it complete.

Ken Edwards made the lion

Design for a side panel

Gabi made the leopard

Design for a side panel

Nikky Turner made the monkey

Design for the back wall by Tessa Hunkin

You may also like to read about

The Mosaic Makers of Hoxton

The Hoxton Varieties Mosaic

18 Responses leave one →
  1. Janet M permalink
    June 6, 2014

    Gorgeous art, I love it!

  2. Hetty Startup permalink
    June 6, 2014

    The mosaic makers on Hackney Downs project is a true joy. I used to live on Shepherdess Walk but long before it was graced with Tessa Hunkin’s work.

  3. June 6, 2014

    Their work is fantastic, they put so much time and skill into making these pictures come to life – the mosaic makers are doing the community a great service. Valerie

  4. June 6, 2014

    Marvellous! Such beautiful colours and details. Definitely on my ‘to see’ list next time I’m over.

  5. June 6, 2014

    What a creative work — would love to join immediately!

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  6. Patty/NS permalink
    June 6, 2014

    Absolutely amazing work!

  7. Neville Turner permalink
    June 6, 2014

    Mosaic decor is great it seems to catch the eye of all age groups,it’s an ideal medium,colourfull,resilient,story telling,we should have more in all areas of our civic and domestic life.Well done Tessa and the Mosaic Maker’s let’s see more.
    Good Luck
    Neville

  8. June 6, 2014

    Absolutely wonderful – well done to all!!

  9. June 6, 2014

    just lovely! would love to spend several afternoons with them! beautiful work!

  10. Lynn Jones permalink
    June 7, 2014

    Thanks for this article, and thanks to Tessa Hunkin and the mosaicists for bringing beauty into the world. I especially like to see the drawings and the finished mosaics side by side.

  11. June 7, 2014

    So lovely to see mosaic happening live in London. Totally inspiring :)

  12. June 7, 2014

    What a fantastic beautiful fun educational textural colorful super fantastic work of art!
    I’d sure help if I were there.

  13. Christine Carder permalink
    June 8, 2014

    Absolutely love it ,wish I could pop in on a Saturday to help.

  14. Naleni permalink
    June 9, 2014

    The Mosaics are so stunning, I hope you do alot more as makes people smile!

  15. Roger Guedalla permalink
    June 10, 2014

    They are just amazing – congratulations to everybody

  16. Martha Gil permalink
    October 23, 2014

    Martha Gil

    October 23, 2014

    The mosaic makers on Hackney Downs project is an excellent work.

    I enjoy it because my brother is a mosaic maker with his family,he would love to see the work

    in London.Thanks for this beautiful work forever. Congratulations.

  17. María Eugenia Yarce permalink
    November 5, 2014

    I am pleasantly surprised to see this beautiful mosaic. I admire so much artists and the time that they dedicate to do their projects. From this continent, America, (Colombia) I say you: congratulations!
    María Eugenia Yarce

  18. graham corry permalink
    November 10, 2014

    Absolutely brilliant.

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