First Words In Dalston creating public art from resident submissions

Local artists are appealing to Hackney residents to submit their favourite first sentences of books found in Dalston CLR James library. Submissions will help complete the First Words In Dalston public art installation currently displayed on the hoardings of Dalston Square. 

So far over 50 sentences from books such as A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six, Toni Morrisson’s Beloved and Murder Most Unladylike - Robin Stevens, have been colourfully painted on the current hoardings, or recorded as audio so they can be heard when walking by. Submissions are being curated by artists Mike Abrahams and Francesca Giuliano who are now looking for further contributions to complete the temporary artwork which they hope will reconnect people to the library after being shut for lockdown. 

Mike Abrahams and Francesca Giuliano said:

 People feel really isolated during lockdown as so many of our cultural activities have been closed. By bringing the library outside, we've seen how people are intrigued by the work and are stopping to read or listen. Those who have participated in contributing the first sentences of books or poems they love are providing opportunity for essential human connection as well as helping everyone enjoy art outside of the traditional gallery context. 

We also believe that engaging in art can encourage better mental health and we’re hoping First Words in Dalston will help people reconnect with art as the world starts opening up again. We hope it will create a sense of pride, help bring people together and brighten up the community.” 

Sue Comitti, Head of Hackney Libraries said: 

The Library Service is excited to be supporting the First Words in Dalston. This eye-catching project brings stories into the open air and after a year of lockdown and isolation, is a great way to bring people together again to share their love of reading. First Words In Dalston is also a great way to remind residents that the Libraries are re-opening and ready to welcome old and new faces back after a difficult year.” 

Mike and Francesca aim to reach 250 submissions by summer and are looking for funding to extend the audio art installation to create a sonic soundscape to be heard when walking by.

Anyone who lives or works in Hackney can take part by choosing the first sentence from any publication expected to be within the Dalston CLR James Library. It can be fiction, non-fiction, academic text, a play or poem. For more details on how to submit your entry visit firstwordsindalston.co.uk/take-part 


Notes for editors 

Website: firstwordsindalston.co.uk 

Instagram: @firstwordsindalston

For further information contact@mikeabrahamsartist.com or dearfrankie@gmail.com.