Young artists invited to design a mural featuring Hackney’s threatened species

Eco-artist Michelle Meola will paint the winning design. Photograph: courtesy Homerton Green Forum

The search is on for a winning design for a biodiversity mural to showcase species that need support in Hackney.

Artists aged 12-25 of any ability are being urged by Homerton Green Forum to come up with ideas to raise awareness of the risk of losing species.

The winning design will be painted by Hackney Wick eco-artist Michelle Meola on part of a 12-metre high and 11-metre wide wall.

Artists need to  feature at least one of the threatened species found in  Hackney – including the British grass snake, brown banded carder bee, cinnabar moth, common toad, European eel, horehound longhorn moth, house sparrow, song thrush, stag beetle,  or soprano pipistrelle bat.

The mural will mark the launch of a green corridor in Homerton to help wildlife travel safely and which extends green projects around the Kingsmead estate and the whole of the Kings Park ward.

The winning design will join the mural of a sparrow hawk painted by eco-artist ATM on Daubeney Road as part of the 10xGreener project.

Forum co-ordinator Gerry Tissier said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young artists to design street art inspired by nature and put out messages about climate change.”

He explained that residents can make changes in Hackney: “We need urgent action to stop biodiversity loss and the best place to start is on our own doorstep. We can think global and act local. The changes we make now will be felt well into the future.

“There is much reason for hope. Environmentally-aware individuals and communities are coming together to help nature bounce back. Young people are at the forefront of this movement.

“In Hackney, local groups and volunteers are working hard to create well natured places.”

Populations of sparrow hawks and sparrows are increasing in Hackney, Tissier said.

Hackney Council also has a green recovery plan and has banned the use of the pesticide glyphosate around Daubeney Road as part of a trial.

The mural also coincides with the global green conferences COP26 (climate emergency conference) in Glasgow and the UN biodiversity gathering in China in October.

One in seven UK species are threatened with extinction and many species with dwindling numbers live in Hackney, including hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings, bats, and toads.

At least 20 listed species live within a kilometre of the mural site at the Clapton Park estate, which has a series of green spaces including a wildflower meadow and is famous for its poppies.

Artist Michelle Meola said: “The wall we’ll be using is a really great spot for the community to see and is in front of the park. We desperately need everybody to be engaged in this issue.”

She added: “Plants and animals support and sustain each other to create an intricate web of life that we as humans ultimately depend on.

“Young artists may want to make the overlooked and ignored world under our feet become vibrant and wonderous. Or they may choose to look to the sky where birds and bats fly.

“We want to see original, relevant and accessible designs that blend art and science and spark a conversation in the community. And we want positive messages based on young people’s hopes and wishes for the future.”

Young people from the Voyage youth group have already joined a workshop at Hackney College to create their designs.

The winning mural will be one of 14 painted across the UK to raise awareness of the species we may lose.

It will also be in with a chance to be displayed on billboards across London, and photographs of some murals will be displayed in Real World Science Network museums nationally. 

Homerton’s Green Forum has linked up with the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College and UK Youth for Nature to create the colourful mural.

Designs have to be submitted by 24 September and the winner receives a £250 prize.

Entries can be submitted here.