Tiny Principals of Nature


Public Art Mural | July 2023

Designed and painted by
Claire Ward-Thornton, Art Hoppers

14-16 Penpoll Road
Hackney, London, E8 1EX

Commissioned by Hackney Council

Supported by:
The Art Fund / Bedec Products Ltd

Public Art Mural

Art Hoppers in partnership with Hackney Council delivered a large scale, public art mural on the flank wall of Victorian terrace 14-16 Penpoll Road, at the junction of Wilton Way, Hackney in July 2023. The mural, designed and painted by Claire Ward-Thornton, represents the Council’s ethos for introducing and enhancing green infrastructure and creating long-lasting playful spaces in the borough.

Tiny border plants reflect those growing in the rain gardens (SuDS) at the foot of the mural. In the design, these miniature flora take to the stage in principal role as the urban giants of the pathways. A cyclist rides alongside the abundance of colour. Much-needed pollinators, a bee, a butterfly, and a hummingbird dance in choral celebration from the wings.

The railway bridge and 38 bus promote public transport, encouraging mindful alternatives to cars, reducing neighbourhood car parking, and city pollution whilst increasing the demand for safe cycle routes and family-friendly, green spaces.

“Miniature flora take to the stage in principal role as the urban giants of the pathways.”

Climate change:

As time races by, nature reminds us that increasing care is needed to protect the livelihoods of all living things in order to protect the planet. To avert the effects of climate change, we need to accept that the decades ahead are not a rehearsal for change – They will define change.

Inspired by the idea that a stage is a platform for communication, a set designer’s model is painted larger than life as a mural, amplifying the process of scaling up from small to large. Asking viewers to notice the tiny details that make a big difference in the natural world and to be active players in a shared ecosystem which needs to thrive, not survive.

Since completion, the mural has been invited to be a part of a European project Les Murs D’Audubon, a network of murals across the UK of birds endangered by climate change. We’re extremely excited to have our mural, Tiny Principals of Nature, included in this portfolio alongside great artists.

Les Murs D’Audubon is part of the broader collaboration ACT, Art Climate Transition, run by ten European organisations working together.


Read the Hackney Citizen article!

Design Concept

Micro > MACRO: Intricately cut paper shapes of tiny botanicals and hard working pollinators form the visual elements of a set designers model. These small characters play a big role in our natural world maintaining the delicate balance of cyclical growth and a healthy environment.

Inspired by the idea that a stage is a platform for communication, the model is the visual reference for a larger painting and community project promoting the urgent need to scale up action to tackle climate change.

How can we make small commitments more often to achieve a big difference in a short amount of time?

Scale 1:25 / Wall dimensions: W 6.8m x H 9m / Surface area: 60 sq.m


Tiny border plants Salvia Hotlips, Santonlina, Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve, Lemon Balm plus taller Witch Hazel, reflect those flourishing at the foot of the mural in rain gardens, utilising rainfall through SuDS – A Sustainable Drainage System aimed at providing amenity and biodiversity.

These unassuming elements of nature are painted as the giants of the pathways, taking to the stage in principal role, claiming their importance as nectar-rich contributors to a complex ecosystem.

These tiny botanicals have offered big benefits for we humans throughout history too! With healing properties for joint pain, skin care and anxiety, they are a trusted source of herbal medicine, providing remedy, nutrition and well-being value.


When Hackney Council began thinking about improving the urban landscape with planting, they asked residents on Wilton Way for feedback. Plants that attracted essential pollinators were key to public opinion.

A bee, a butterfly and a hummingbird are among the tiny creatures, some of whose species are under increasing threat of survival due to climate change, habitat loss and pesticides.

The concept of our mural Tiny Principals of Nature appreciates the tiny details and celebrates their importance by painting them larger than life in vivid colour. It’s a reminder to take notice, interest and care of the beauty, purpose and fragility of all living things. A call to action: to collectively play our part in preventing further losses to the natural world.


7 in 10 households in Hackney don’t own a car – Bikes, buses and trains are in, cars are out!

Our mural celebrates Hackney Council’s Liveable Neighbourhoods Plan, which acknowledges that residential streets aren’t just for getting from A to B, they’re for living in. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) like Wilton Way make streets safer, cleaner and more pleasant to get around by prioritising pedestrians and cyclists and restricting access for vehicles.

The number 38 bus, which goes from Clapton Pond to Victoria, trundles through the painted verdant scene working toward reducing air pollution. In the background, the railway bridge, whose trains can be heard on site as they speed overhead, completes the trinity of greener ways to travel.

Meet the Team

A grant from the Art Fund supported the employment of 8 university students. 6 painters, 1 copywriter and 1 photographer / videographer worked with lead artist Claire Ward-Thornton throughout July 2023 – Meet the team:

Claire Ward-Thornton


Sasha Alfille

Assistant Painter

Maria Alejandra Clemente Arguelles

Assistant painter

Lexy Cooper

Assistant Painter

Omisha Gandhi

Assistant Painter

Tzu Ying Lee

Assistant Painter

Emma Elvins Nogueira dos Santos

Assistant Painter

Helena Cuss


Jaime Gabriel G Gana

Photo / Videographer

Bedec Products Ltd.

Claire Ward-Thornton of Art Hoppers mixes the colours needed for the mural. The paint – Bedec MSP – a beautiful water-based paint, with high elasticity, suitable for masonry and many other surfaces was kindly donated by Bedec Products Ltd.

Claire has used Bedec MSP for several external murals.


Hackney Council:

In December 2021, Hackney Council promoted an open call for artists to submit a design for a new public art mural at 14-16 Penpoll Road in Hackney. Our design was selected. A public consultation was conducted by an external agency in September 2022 over the chosen design. The mural was painted in July 2023.

Art Fund:

A grant was awarded to support the employment of 8 university students in the project. Following completion of Tiny Principals of Nature, Claire plus 5 of our assistant painters went on to work with Brazilian artist Tiago Mazza on a community mural at historic setting 195 Mare Street #Plantpower.