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Hackney Council and Network Rail face backlash over mural contest

Hackney Council and Network Rail face backlash over ‘competition’ to paint a mural over the graffiti on an underpass – as critics claim they’re using artists’ skills for free

Hackney Council in London and Network Rail are facing backlash from furious locals over plans to cover up the graffiti on an underpass in Hackney Wick after a £25m regeneration of the overground station and surrounding area.

The partnership, which also includes London Legacy Development Corporation, revealed it has launched a competition for the opportunity to design and paint a mural in Hackney Wick.

The brief stated that although the cost of materials will be covered, no payment for the work will be offered.

Hackney Council website said: ‘Aimed at local community groups in Hackney Wick, the mural design must be representative of the community and help to make the space feel safe and pleasant for passengers and pedestrians.’

Sharing the post on Facebook, one person wrote: ‘The blurb says “no money but we will buy the anti grafitti paint for individuals or community groups to decorate the wall”. The design must be representative of the community.

Hackney Council have infuriated locals by offering a competition to win the opportunity to graffiti the underpass of the renovated Hackney Wick station

‘Personally I feel insulted they expect people to work for free, secondly I and many others in this community value the grafitti landscape.

‘This decoration with Anti grafitti paint is absurd. Grafitti is one of the key elements that has contributed to the Wick being labelled the coolest place to visit/live.’

Many took to the comments to respond to the post, blasting the Council for expecting others to do the work for free.

One person responded: ‘I spoke with them and the reasons for it are that several community groups have reached out asking for permission to paint the wall and offering free work.

‘To make it fair to community groups, and not be bias [sic] in picking one, they have organised it as a competition.

Angry locals were furious to discover that whoever lent their time and talents to painting the underpass wouldn't be paid for their services

‘It’s been poorly explained/presented, though it is not in efforts to exploit artists. I was riled by it though after speaking with them, it actually made sense.’

However, another local added: ‘They could still pay a community project to do this.’

‘There is graffiti and then there is vandalism,’ wrote a third person.

‘And then there’s theft of labour,’ penned a fourth local. 


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