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The community artwork, known as the ‘South Acton Tree of Life’, is the centrepiece of a new public square and can be seen by passengers travelling past South Acton Overground Station. The piece, which covers a 12m by 4m wall, has been created in consultation with local groups and residents, and using a unique application of highly-crafted fine printing onto ceramic tiles with an oak tree, the symbol of Acton, forming the central motif.
The project, which has been supported by the Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Dr Patricia Walker is the work of world famous mosaic and ceramic print artist Carrie Reichardt. She was born in the area and has strong community ties to South Acton, in collaboration with The Treatment Rooms Collective, a community-focused, socially conscious west London art collective.
The artist worked with community groups, residents and local historical societies to incorporate the history and experiences of living in the area into the piece. Contributors included Bollo Brook Youth Club, Harleyford Manor sheltered scheme, United Anglo Caribbean Society, West London Somali Society, Berrymede School, Gunnersbury Museum, and local residents, who were represented through the inclusion of photos and portraits, floral designs and patterns, and symbols. Historical photos, provided by the Ealing Gazette, were installed onto the individual mosaic tiles which together form the larger mural.
A key component of the project was a mentorship scheme, which provided the opportunity for two local artists to be mentored by Carrie Reichardt and an art psychotherapist. The mentees, Amal Butt and Yasin Dosanjhl, both of whom live and work within South Acton, were an integral part of the team, and learnt techniques such as mosaic making, ceramic printing, and key methods for large-scale projects.
Mike Woolliscroft, Operations Director for Countryside Partnerships South, said: “The artwork is a crucial feature of the Acton Gardens regeneration. The overarching theme for the masterplan is ‘glimpses of green’, which celebrates the green legacy of South Acton, and is reflected in the balconies of the surrounding buildings and the mosaic tiles of the mural.
“This brilliant piece exemplifies the community spirit we are trying to protect and nurture at Acton Gardens. The mural is the product of extensive engagement with local residents and organisations and reflects the rich history of the ever-changing South Acton Estate. The piece has been really well received by the local community, who feel more connected to the regeneration of their local area as a result.”
Stuart Miller, Regional Managing Director – North Region at L&Q, said: “This mural is a fantastic celebration of the history of South Acton and testament to the vibrant community spirit in the area. The range of local residents and groups involved in the project has meant that this piece of art is a true reflection of the real stories and experiences of the community and I am pleased that it has been received so well. I am also glad that, as part of this project, we were able to give two talented local artists the opportunity to be mentored by an internationally renowned artist in Carrie Reichardt. They became integral parts of the team delivering the mural as well as enabling them to learn a range of new skills and techniques which I hope will serve them well going forward.”
Carrie Reichardt, contemporary artist, added: “The South Acton Tree of Life represents real stories, individuals, and the history of the community through pattern-ceramic printing using English classics such as William Morris as well as some stunning geometric forms. The softness of the pattern-work contrasts with the linear architectural styles of the new development and reflects nature in all its richness.
“My purpose when working on public art projects across the world is to help local communities produce work for themselves that reflects their own social identity, aesthetic and creative vision. I’m thrilled to have met so many interesting individuals during the creation of this piece, which stands as a lasting celebration of South Acton life.”