Artist Hanna Benihoud explains how she devised a unique mural for a London estate. Responding to the brief on what makes Edmonton a "happy place", the artwork represents local feeling.
Art is, let's be honest, usually quite self-centred: a way of expressing your most intimate and personal thoughts and feelings and representing them visually on a canvas. But with a new mural in London's Edmonton, artist Hanna Benihoud has done something quite different: representing the thoughts and feelings of local people instead.
To gather inspiration for the painting, titled Inside Out, Hanna posted 1,000 postcards through doors inviting residents to be part of the process. Their input was facilitated through workshops organised by a youth group called 'Dream, Believe, Succeed', led by Edmonton Community Partnership.
"The engagement was about 'Your Happy Place', and we got a plethora of responses," Hanna recalls. "The key themes that stood out was being in nature and home comforts."
Hanna's mural combines these two seemingly opposing ideas with a bespoke floral wallpaper design. "The wallpaper was inspired by the national flowers of the countries the local community are from, as reported in the census data," says Hanna. "Creating a fantasy bouquet is a celebration of the cultural diversity of Edmonton, which I personally had the privilege of growing up in."
Part of the mural is integrated into a new hoarding that reshapes the alleyway. "Working in collaboration with Fisher Cheng, this hoarding cuts off corners of the space that attract antisocial behaviour," explains Hanna.
"These micro-interventions that tweak spaces are key for changing the experience of forgotten spaces within our city," she continues. "The artwork leads to an end portrait of a girl chilling out in her living room. This is paying homage to all the homes within the estate above the artwork."
Twist in the tale
There's a twist in the tale, though: Joyce and Snells Estate are going to be demolished as part of a large regeneration project.
"As an architect, I dedicated my career in practice to working on social housing, so I understand and believe in the importance of regeneration," says Hannah. "But as a resident, I often feel protective of all the homes that will eventually be no more and nostalgic about the memories they created and the families they hosted. This mural will be demolished with the estate, so I wanted to celebrate the homes within whilst they still stand."
"Hanna's new artwork really enlivens the space," says Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan. "This mural, along with other public artworks around the Fore Street area, represents the people living, working and studying in Angel Edmonton.
"They illustrate the hopes and aspirations of local people boldly and vividly and complement the ongoing transformation of Fore Street by Enfield Council and partners."