Designed by Eleanor Hill in collaboration with local residents, the triptych installation animates the underpass of a railway bridge
In the underpass of a railway bridge next to Wood Street Station in Walthamstow, east London, designer and artist Eleanor Hill has completed a permanent public installation titled The Wood Street Altarpiece. Comprising a screen-printed enamel triptych within an ecclesiastical-inspired aluminium architectural frame, including lighting for night-time, the work displays and celebrates stories and local places gathered from community submissions during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.
Hill won a competition held by Waltham Forest Council to create a work that responds to the local character of the high street and community, and chose to focus on representing gardening and outdoor life in Walthamstow. She created an online gallery in which members of the public could see each other’s submissions and learn about the work of gardeners and ecology in their area.
The participatory piece tells the story of three realms of outdoor life in Walthamstow: the woods of Epping Forest, the streets around Wood Street as gardened by the Wood Street South Gardening Club, and the private gardens of the home. It contains portraits of individuals who live in the area, who have contributed to the ecology and improved their local environment.
‘Plants have been described as communal and personal landmarks, particularly in light of Covid-19, whereby many people were reconnecting with nature and the passing of seasons, whilst coping with personal and national trauma – this has been an amazing opportunity to reflect on the importance of nature in a piece which unites the community set within the street-scene,’ says Hill.
Using the form of the altarpiece as a historic story book and reinterpreting it to celebrate local life, the colourful installation transforms the bridge into an interior gallery space.
Photography by Barney Couch and Miguel Souto
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