The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London has been open in full to the public for a few months now, but there’s still a lot of building work going on. To help beautify the hoardings that are masking the work, the London Legacy Development Corporation teamed up with Moniker Projects and Create London to put together ‘Living Walls’, 2.5kms of public art in the park.
A number of artists have been commissioned to create artworks to appear on the hoardings in the park. These include major works by Ben Eine, Jo Peel, Mark McClure, and David Shillinglaw. Other artists including Jeremy Deller, David Batchelor and Ruth Ewan have contributed to the project ‘Your Ad Here’ where artists were teamed with local independent business owners to create a unique series of poster ads to be displayed in the park.
Images of Mark McClure’s 250m-long artwork, which features reclaimed materials sourced in the local area, plus a film of McClure creating his work for the park
Photographs of Ben Eine’s 400m-long mural, titled The Review, plus a film of Eine at work
“The idea was that the park was always going to be developed over time to have more housing, two new schools… and naturally we need to have the hoardings, and there’s a lot of them,” explains Adriana Marques, head of arts and culture at the park. “It was actually a planning condition… It’s the planning team I need to thank first and foremost as they saw that art could have a role in these frontages… So the starting point was that we’ve got hundreds of these bright green hoardings, wouldn’t it be so much better if they looked more beautiful?”
Marques then commissioned a partnership between Create London, an arts organisation based in east London which is focused on socially engaged practice, and Moniker Projects, which founded the Moniker Art Fair, an annual event with a particular focus on street art. The two organisations then worked together to commission the various artists for the project.
Images of David Shillinglaw’s work, which aims to be a “modern day Bayeux tapestry”, telling the story of the London 2012 Olympics through the eyes of the local community. Shillinglaw is shown working on the piece in the film above
Jo Peel’s work features her distinctive cityscapes and aims to reflect the unique character of Hackney Wick, where the park is based. Peel discusses the work in the accompanying film
Animation of Jo Peel’s Meet Me in the City project
“What’s really exciting about these artworks is the scale of them,” continues Marques. “There are so many schemes where artists have done works on hoardings, we’re by no means reinventing the wheel, but we’ve taken it up a notch in terms of the scale. It’s over two kilometres long, over nine sites… it’s pretty mammoth.”
As the films included on this post show, the artworks have all been hand-painted onto the hoardings, and feature highly detailed areas and stories, many of which are pertinent to the local community. The project is an example of how something that is essential but unsightly – builders’ hoardings – can be made interesting and pleasurable to look at.
Images of some of the ads featured in the ‘Your Ad Here’ project, where artists designed ads for local independent businesses
All the works in the Living Walls project can be seen now at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and more info can be viewed online at livingwalls-london.com.