Shepherdess Walk Mosaics – London, England - Atlas Obscura

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Shepherdess Walk Mosaics

A display of everyday life in the area that was unveiled during the 2012 Summer Olympics. 


In comparative size, the metropolitan city of London is considerably larger than both New York and Paris. Within this vast distance, encompassing a whopping 45 miles (70 kilometers), a visitor can find a variety of open green spaces. From the popular and expansive Hyde Park to the even bigger Richmond Park. But hidden amongst all these towering skyscrapers and residential blocks are hidden oasis of calm that reflect the communities they serve.

One such park can be found in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, in the London Borough of Hackney, aptly named Shepherdess Walk Park. If one decides to follow the stairs, (and miniature sign) off Shepherdess Walk, they will be transported to another world. After traveling through a narrow passage, visitors will be greeted by several large murals made entirely of individual tiles. This is the work of Tessa Hunkin, aided by over 150 local volunteers and taking more than two years to complete.

Originally unveiled to coincide with the Summer Olympics of 2012, there are two wall panels depicting the four seasons. These show modern-day people enjoying everyday activities in a style that is reminiscent of ancient Roman mosaics. A third panel shows the history of the area with several shepherdesses tending their herd. Later additions are the two on the ground illustrating various flora and fauna. There are also decorative panels alongside the names of individuals who worked on the piece.

Though Shepherdess Park was not established until sometime in the 1970s, up until the 19th-century, the circled a green pasture. This was used by livestock prior to being transported to the nearby Smithfield Meat Market. Tessa Hunkin’s work can be found throughout the city of London. One such piece is the Queenhithe Mosiac, which showcases the history of London and can be found on a wall along the northern portion of the River Thames walkway.

Know Before You Go

The hidden walkway is between 128 and 107 Shepherdess Walk. The closest tube stations are Angel and Old Street, and the closest Overground station is Hoxton.

Googling 'Tessa Hunkin mosaic' will open up a treasure trove of her public works, especially in and around the district of Hackney, in the north-east portion of the city.

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June 17, 2022

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