Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic: Collective Power Awards

| Mel Parks

We are delighted to be involved again this year with the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance’s (CHWA) annual awards which focus on collective power (partnership and co-production), practitioner support and climate.

We are partnering with CHWA on their Collective Power Award. This award aims to recognise an inspiring project, consortium, collective or movement of people in which meaningful partnership and co-production has improved the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities through culture and creativity.  CHWA were positively overwhelmed by the quality of applications. Each application told another story of the incredible work happening all over the country and the amazing collaborative and creative spirit of people responding to individual, local and global challenges. We loved the different interpretations of “collective power” and we were blown away by how people and organisations worked together to respond and adapt during the pandemic. 

In order to celebrate this work, we are running a blog series on each of the projects shortlisted for the Collective Power Award. This blog features joint winner, ACAVA’s Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic, which brought almost one thousand local people from North Kensington together to make large scale public artworks. Co-created with individuals and local community, resident, faith and school groups under the guidance of mosaic artists Emily Fuller and Tomomi Yoshida, the project enabled people to connect and to memorialise the Grenfell Tower tragedy through personal and collective creativity.

Initiated in 2018 by ACAVA in partnership with Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, the programme had a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of the collaborators and participants and contribution to supporting community recovery.

Phase three of the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic saw 39 mosaic stepping stones co-created with local residents and installed at intervals along the route of the Silent Walk, in the neighbourhood of the tower, where members of the Grenfell community and others walk silently on the 14th of every month. The pieces are circular, feature a green mosaic heart – a symbol now synonymous with Grenfell – and depict the word ‘Justice’ in various languages that were spoken in Grenfell Tower. The project aims to commemorate and help to memorialise the Grenfell tragedy by documenting the Silent Walk and its significance to the local and wider community and history of North Kensington. This third and final phase of the project launched in September 2021 and was installed on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, in June 2022.

“This wonderful depiction of the love, courage, and comradery of this community is heart-warming, whilst being tinged with a hollowing sadness. Thank you, the artists, photographers, contributors and community.”

The team at ACAVA tell us more about what the project has meant to them and the community:

What has been your favourite thing about the project? 

Definitely the collaboration. Over the last four years every member of the team has shaped the project, from the artists, the community consultant from Al Manaar and all the hundreds of participants. People from all facets of our wider community in North Kensington affected by the Grenfell Tower fire have taken part in creating the mosaic art works, including schools, community groups, tenant and resident associations, faith groups and individuals. And we’ve also had great support from the partners – the Grenfell Foundation, the Culture Service and Highways departments at Kensington and Chelsea council, the Grenfell Site recovery team and management and the FM Conways’ team who installed the Walking as One mosaics along the route of the Silent Walk this summer.

Have you made and learnt from any mistakes along the way? We call these ‘best mistakes’!

Of course! The first mosaic we created in 2018 to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire was a flower made up of a central piece and 12 petals fabricated by different community groups. The expectation was that it would be installed on the hoardings around Grenfell Tower for one year and then the petals would be returned to the groups that created them. The mosaics have become really meaningful to local people and the piece is still on public display – alongside the 24 mosaic leaves that were made in subsequent years – and the community groups decided to keep the artwork together rather than the individual component parts being returned. Had we known it would still be there five years on and counting, we would not have mounted the flower on plywood, which required a little bit of TLC to ensure it can withstand the weather! 

Has anything surprised you during the project? 

The appetite and love for the project and artwork. The community have really taken ownership over it in a way that we couldn’t have imagined at the start. What began as a one-year project evolved to span four, which was down to the voice of the community and the number of groups and people who wanted to contribute.

“Well done for creating this wonderful project! Involving so much of the community and creating beautiful pieces of art that last.”

Find out more

Acava website Grenfell mosaic news

More project details with list of contributors

Follow on Twitter

@ACAVAarts @ACAVANorthKen @zutelightfoot @andreia_sofia_leitao

Photo credits

Main picture: Zute Lightfoot on behalf of ACAVA

Picture 2 and 3: Andreia Sofia Leitao of behalf of ACAVA

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