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Hackney New School artists transform hoarding boards surrounding Kingsland Fire Station development

PUBLISHED: 13:50 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:50 22 December 2017

Jennifer Benyon from the Benyon Estate (red coat), Paul Coomey from the Open Arts Project (red hat) with Amy Birchard, head of art at Hackney New School (white coat) and students from the Hackney New School. Photo by Open Arts Project

Jennifer Benyon from the Benyon Estate (red coat), Paul Coomey from the Open Arts Project (red hat) with Amy Birchard, head of art at Hackney New School (white coat) and students from the Hackney New School. Photo by Open Arts Project

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Budding artists have transformed the drab hoarding boards surrounding the Hackney New Primary School construction site into a “community canvas”.

Students from Hackney New School have been creating artworks on the hoardings around the Hackney New Primary School development. Photo by Open Arts ProjectStudents from Hackney New School have been creating artworks on the hoardings around the Hackney New Primary School development. Photo by Open Arts Project

As part of the fledgling ‘open art’ initiative, 25 large-scale paintings created by Hackney New School teenagers, based on the theme ‘love and loss’ sprung up around the development of the former Kingsland Fire Station site on Tuesday.

The controversial scheme, which was waved through by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan back in April, will see a 350-place free school and flats being built in Kingsland Road.

Art director Paul Coomey, who founded the project, said his original hope was to give project sponsor The Benyon Estate the chance to connect with the community on a “far more meaningful level”.

“There is a lot of community art work happening in Hackney which doesn’t have a platform to be showcased,” he said.

Students from Hackney New School have been creating artworks on the hoardings around the Hackney New Primary School development. Photo by Open Arts Project 
Students from Hackney New School have been creating artworks on the hoardings around the Hackney New Primary School development. Photo by Open Arts Project

“And there is a lot of construction work going on which is surrounded with plain boards which often attract graffiti. I have long thought there is some potential here.

“Due to its temporary nature, it’s almost like the project is an exhibition on a community canvas. It allows the young artists to reach beyond the pieces of A3 paper in the classroom.”

The project is part of the corporate social responsibility commitment, which involves developers reinvesting in the community, of the Benyon Estate.

“The young artists were easy to get on board and seemed to get a real kick out of it,” added Paul who has been supported by Hackney New School head of art, Amy Birchard.

“When they first saw their work on display, they were playing it cool as teenagers do, but you could see how they felt from the smiles on their faces.”

Edward Benyon, manager of The Benyon Estate, added that he hoped the art would “brighten up the day of passers-by”.

Earlier this year the project began with Year 9 students creating a mural around another of the estate’s development sites on the Englefield Road. Their work will be used as part of their GCSE art submission.

The younger cohort’s paintings were underpinned with messages again on the theme ‘community’ including ‘don’t love with your eyes – love with your heart’.

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