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The Dalston mural
Photograph: Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo

Can you help solve Hackney’s mural mystery?

Help identify the immortalised folk in Dalston’s landmark mural

Written by
Lottie Keys

Calling all Londoners; Dalston needs your help. The area’s colourful local mural, known as the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural, features loads of peace protesters from the 1980s - and those faces need names. Local historian Laurie Elks is investigating who these mysterious visages are, and is desperately seeking answers. Hopefully you can help. 

The mural, near Curve Garden, has been a point of fascination for Dalston Lane residents for 40 years. But, if you’re not familiar with east London’s arty wall, you might also recognise it from Rudimental’s debut album, Home, which uses the art on the cover. The piece features 41 faces, and Elks has so for identified about 10 of them. 

Hackney based artist, Ray Walker, was commissioned by community arts panel chairman, Tony Banks, to paint the piece in the 1980s. Armed with the theme ‘peace through nuclear disarmament’ the mural was intended as a symbol of harmony at a time when Cold War ban-the-bomb marches were common. It features phrases such as ‘nuclear free zone’ and ‘unite for peace’, echoing the voices of Hackney residents. 

Hackney council expressed its anti-war views at the time. It tried (but ultimately failed) to prevent trains, used for carrying nuclear waste, from passing through Hackney. 

Before the mural was finished, in 1984, Walker died suddenly of a heart attack. However, the project wasn’t abandoned. Taking his preliminary drawings, the piece was completed the following year by his widow Anna, and friend Mick Jones. 

If you think you have spotted yourself, someone you know (or even slightly recognise) then you can find out how to get in contact with Loving Dalston (who have gone hunting in print for the names) here

17 Dalston Lane, Hackney, E8 3DF

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