Artist Coco Lom celebrates Hackney's community spirit in 30-foot mural

Artist and designer Coco Lom's distinctive style mixes a bold, bright colour palette with black and white patterns, often created using a photocopier.

Her driving force is to help people find the magnificence amongst the mundane, opening their eyes to the powerful colours and patterns that surround us. And she put this philosophy into practice on her latest project: a 30 x 9-foot playground mural for Newport School in Hackney, east London.

The Year 4 pupils at the school helped design the mural through a series of creative workshops led by Coco in December. The children, aged eight years old, shared ideas about how best to represent the school's core values of respect, aspiration, care, integrity, creativity and being community-minded.

Coco and the youngsters also took inspiration from the location of their school, using the different shapes and patterns they could see around them. From the repeated rectangles of their classroom windows to the stripey shadows of their playground fencing, they searched for shapes big and small, high and low. Returning to the classroom, the pupils documented their findings through big chalk drawings on their playground floor.

The resulting mural, comprising of wiggling lines, stripey spots and bold patterns, was completed in eight days. "It was so exciting to see all the different visual responses, and I was so impressed by how thoughtful the children's creations were," says Coco. "I'm so happy to have been able to open up a new way of seeing and creating for these young, curious minds."

It's not the first time Coco, a Hackney resident, has collaborated with local institutions. Last year, she was asked by Hackney Arts to brighten up the route for 3,000 participants in the Hackney 5k Run, which involved chalk-spray-painting the grass track with colourful and playful designs underfoot. She has also designed murals for Shoreditch Studios and The Beer Shop in Peckham and was recently commissioned to paint six community hedge planters in Charlotte Road, near Old Street.

Next year, she's planning to head to New York after a leading international hotel chain invited her to be Artist in Residency, and to host a series of creative workshops, inspired by the shapes and patterns within the city's world-famous architecture.


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