By Jenny Clarke, Associate

At DigiKind we are passionate about street art.

We believe it helps to define a sense of place and identity and gives local people pride in their surroundings. When we discovered the work of London artist Maud Milton and Artyface, we fell in love not only with her vivid and bold creations but also the way her projects build and empower communities.     

Artyface Community Art – bringing beauty to everyday spaces

Maud founded Artyface in 1999, collaborating with communities across London to create high-quality public art from ceramics and mosaics. Maud works with Catherine Clark who has been an integral part of the design and making team for 20 years and Rebecca Tyndall for 15, and together with a trusted team of artists they deliver high-quality  workshops with schools, businesses and the community to create mosaics in public spaces, bringing beauty to everyday areas. Since setting up, Maud estimates they have worked with up to 5,000 members of the public each year, making a total of over 100,000 people. Now that is true public engagement!

Community collaboration

It’s important to Maud and the team that their workshops are intergenerational, multicultural and inclusive. People aged one to 91 have taken part over the years, and they have worked with all abilities and complex needs.A single project can involve between 50-1000 local people. 

During the workshops people create their designs on soft clay tiles, making their mark, pressing in to leave patterns and textures. The tiles are trimmed, dried and fired to 1000 degrees. The team then glaze each tile and they are fired to 1280 degrees. All these individual masterpieces come together, assembled into an artwork made of many, many tiles! They are then installed onto the wall or floor , making the whole process a truly collective effort.

Legacy Art

Creating bright and eye-catching mosaics not only adds beauty to areas of the city, and gives people a reason to feel pride in their spaces, but – as they can last for decades, even centuries – there is the added feeling of longevity and legacy, that these pieces permanently shape an area and will be enjoyed for generations to come. 

The durability of the artwork is vital and Maud only uses the highest quality materials, ensuring that tiles are high-fired to protect from the British frost and are glazed to prevent graffiti damage. Maud regularly receives messages from people saying that they have seen their mosaic they made many years ago and it looks as good as when it first went up. In 2021 someone wrote to her from Caerphilly where she made her first public ceramic artwork with the community – a storyboard seat in the park depicting local legends. They said they remembered making it with her nearly 30 years ago and it was still there looking fabulous. 

Any theme, any size

The mosaics can be about any topic, including features of the local area, an interesting take on a station sign, or even animals from around the world.  Maud is passionate about ecology and nature, so often features images and designs depicting locally found plants or wildlife, and for true sustainability often uses second hand ceramics saving them from landfill. Even her kiln is fired using renewable energy. Artyface’s projects vary in size from small mosaics on a school wall to a 25 square metre mosaic celebrating Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Keeping the community together through lockdown

In 2020’s lockdown, Artyface helped keep community creativity at a high, even when people were staying at home. Maud created takeaway-tile boxes which were delivered to 100 households at a safe distance. These contained 30-50 wet clay tiles, and people were asked to find things in their home or garden to press into the clay and make their mark. The tiles were collected, fired and glazed and have been used to make particularly meaningful roundels for Walthamstow Central and St James Street stations in East London, and Thornton Heath and Selhurst stations in South London.

Art by the community for the community

Whatever the size or design of the mosaic, there is always the same mission at heart: to give local communities pride and ownership of their spaces. Maud often chooses walls in most need of care and attention to decorate, believing that everyday places deserve to be made beautiful. As the work that Maud does through Artyface is paid for by grants, contributions and many sponsors, it democratises art, giving people access to art in their daily lives, free of charge at the point of contact.

What we at DigiKind love the most is that Maud’s art brings communities together by caring about their shared spaces.

Get in touch

DigiKind want to share stories about artists and the work they do, as well as businesses, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and councils who are building communities. Drop us a line at DigiKind or fill in our High Street Hero form to be featured for free on our website and channels.

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