Popular comedian Russell Brand unveiled a Roman-inspired mosaic in Hackney Downs children’s park on Thursday.
Mr Brand was on hand to unveil the mosaic, which was commissioned by Hackney Council to celebrate the 2012 London Olympics.
Over the past nine months local residents have pitched in to create the artwork, which depicts a variety of wild animals and covers the whole of the park’s open-air theatre.
Mr Brand said the mosaic tells “a story about a community”.
“It is an emblem of what can be achieved when we come together and work together.”
A variety of groups helped to create the artwork, including members of Lifeline, a project that helps people recovering from addiction.
Mr Brand, who has battled drug addiction in the past, said the mosaic “commemorates and acknowledges the work of all the addicts”.
Tessa Hunkin, a professional mosaic-maker who headed the project, said: “I am so pleased with the final product.
“No one who contributed had ever done mosaic before.
“I have seen people build their confidence and become very gifted and loyal to the project.
“I have been very surprised by the local interest in Hackney Downs – the numbers have just grown and grown.
“I think people like to come to the park and work in this environment.”
Ms Hunkin has been making mosaics for 25 years, and was inspired by late-Roman art when designing the Hackney Downs piece.
“It is bold and full of movement, and wasn’t too challenging for the volunteers.
“A lot of public mosaics look disorganised, but everyone was on the same page with ours.”
Ms Hunkin has coordinated two other mosaic projects in the area in recent years, including the Hoxton Varieties mosaic on Old Street, which was recently awarded Mosaic of the Year by the British Association for Modern Mosaics.
She thanked Hackney Council, which has funded all the mosaic projects in Hackney.
“They have been incredibly generous,” she said.
Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for Health, Social Care and Culture, has personally championed the Hackney Downs project since it began.
He said: “The volunteers have worked with extraordinary dedication and care.
“This beautiful work will be enjoyed by local people for years to come.
“This is a great example of the council supporting local people to make a really positive difference to their community.”
Scores of local residents came to watch the unveiling, and children from the Nightingale Estate performed a celebratory play based on ‘characters you see in the park’.
Other artwork made by the group was also exhibited on the day.