Anyone passing North Kensington Library in early September was in a for a colourful surprise after community arts group 24 Hearts covered the building in a swarm of larger-than-life bees and butterflies.
24 Hearts was one of the projects selected at the start of the year to receive funding from the Grenfell Projects Fund and planned to use the money to continue delivering popular art sessions in Maxilla Gardens this summer in the run-up to this year’s Notting Hill Carnival.
But when the pandemic forced Carnival online and prevented Sophie from delivering sessions in person, she ensured that the show went on by arranging for residents to make their own bees and butterflies.
With lockdown keeping everyone indoors, Sophie promoted her project across North Kensington and delivered art materials including special paper and willow to aspiring artists.
She then worked with local artist Amber Joy to record tutorials detailing how to turn the materials into bees and butterflies and sent the links through to the participants to allow them to take part from the safety of their own homes.
And once the colourful creations – which included bees themed around Amy Winehouse and Shakespeare and “butterflags” showcasing the diverse backgrounds of the community – were completed, they installed them outside North Kensington Library.
She said: “Our project was changed by Covid, but we designed it so that the youngest child or any adult could do as much or as little as they wanted.
“We were overwhelmed by the response and the bubbles of creativity that popped up all over North Kensington. Lockdown meant that people had time on their hands, and the effort put in was amazing.
“Some people were shielding and hadn't left their flats for a long time, so this was a chance for them to do something different and feel connected to the community again.”
In addition to the bees and butterflies, Sophie also invited local households to create and decorate a heart as a thank you to a group or individual that has helped them through the pandemic. The results are now on display on a special tree installation outside Bay 20, while the bees are back with their creators and the butterflies have found a new home under the canopy at Portobello Market.
Sophie added: “I'm really proud of what we have achieved. We wanted to create something that unites people, celebrates the wonderful diversity of our community and transforms our local spaces.
“One legacy of the Grenfell tragedy is that it has showed how we come together and what we have produced through this project is a testament to the strength of our community.”
24 Hearts and other Grenfell Projects Fund recipients will be presenting details of their projects via monthly online presentations, with the first taking place from 6.30pm – 7.45pm on Tuesday 27 October. Visit the Grenfell Projects Fund page for details. Discover more about 24 Hearts on the group's website.