The story of the new Leytonstone High Road mosaic

Artist Maud Milton is working with Waltham Forest to create roundels for key Overground stations in the borough

So this is pretty gorgeous. Should E11’s shiny new mosaic not already have caught your eye, we advise you head forthwith to the Overground’s railway arches, just by the reopened wine bar and deli To Be Consumed.

The roundel in question is the baby of artist Maud Milton, whose organisation Artyface works with schools, communities and organisations to create public mosaics and ceramic artworks across the capital.

Founded by Milton in 1999 to provide “legacy public art”, Maud says community involvement is integral. “We estimate we work with 4000+ people per year, bringing all ages and abilities together to create art that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

The London Overground roundels project was born out of a Fellowship grant by London’s first Borough of Culture, Waltham Forest with some cash chucked in from Arriva Trains and the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust as well.

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So far, Maud and team have worked with 1,600 people in the community to make eye-catching bespoke mosaic roundels for Highams Park, Chingford and now Leytonstone High Road stations.

Despite all the difficulties of public workshops not being able to run due to Covid-19, they’ve nonetheless managed to adapt ways of working to maintain public involvement.

More than 150 local households, almshouses and care homes have taken part in distanced tile making. Milton also distributed takeaway boxes full of wet tiles so that participants were able to press their own designs in guided by instructional Instagram videos. These tiles were distance-dropped back, then fired and glazed.

Surely it must have been scorching installing the latest mosaic in this week’s heatwave? “Yes, it was in the full-on sun from midday,” she says. “Yes, it fried our brains. Yes, we coped. Thanks to all the encouragement and uplifting comments from so many passers-by, the helpful station staff, and the Turkish shop that brought us refreshments and the neighbouring wine shop that loves the mosaics. Sorry to all the volunteers I know would have loved to have helped but we had to maintain distances and although we would have LOVED your company and help, today was a hot tough sweaty job especially with masks on.”

And indeed near neighbours TBC tweeted that they are delighted by the new addition next to the bar. “So happy to see the Overground see some love. Hoping this is the beginning of a facelift to the whole area.”

In fact, it feels like it just might be. TFC has just been reinvented as vast European foodhall The Continental Food Exchange, and the Cann Hall Road Residents Association confirmed that “there is indeed more facelift stuff to come – we’ve been working with the Council for some years putting in place plans for that end of High Road; hopefully we can get them back up and running again soon.”

And finally, what Overground stations are next on Maud’s hitlist? “There’s one coming for Leyton Midland, plus Holloway Road and Gospel Oak. All made with thousands of people in the community,” she says.

Mosiac-lovers, keep your mince pies peeled.

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Main image: Stephen Emms

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