Thursday, 30 July 2009

Hackney's Wicked

This weekend’s ‘Hackney Wicked’ arts festival will see the artists, galleries and design studios of Hackney Wick open their doors to the public for a host of exhibitions and events, with a Fete, performance art flashmobs, markets, music and parties pulling a crowd to East London’s most creative industrial outpost.
"We came up with the idea of doing an art festival on a drunken afternoon at Ingrid Z’s. (Residence gALLERY)." Says Cherie-Marie Veiderveld, co-owner/creator of Elevator Gallery, "It was incredibly haphazard, we had no budget and only 3 months to organise, but to our dismay thousands of people turned up and Time out Magazine dedicated an issue to it!"

Highlights include Taigen Kawabe’s performance at Elevator galleries in Queen’s Yard, a live music stage with over twenty acts in Main Yard off of Wallis Road, Dave Notarius’ ‘ARTSCREAM TRUCK’ a novelty mobile art gallery and the finale on Sunday, Harry Meadows’ Coracle Regatta boat race on the nearby canal and the ominous burning of the Wicker Man who’s location remains a secret.

Still in its infancy, after it debuted last year the festival received international billing from NY Arts Magazine as ‘the most vital art event of the summer’. A launch-pad for fresh talent and up and coming businesses, the festival provides both entertainment and an important cultural boost for London’s creative community.

On first impressions an industrial and desolate looking landscape, Hackney Wick provides much needed and affordable homes for the artists you are likely to be seeing at 'Wicked' 2009. The area is gaining a reputation for its DIY grassroots approach to the arts and creative industries, perhaps due to the hurdles inhabitants have had to overcome by its unconventional location. The A12 and neighboring canals physically cut the area off from the rest of the city. Not a typically picturesque place to live; disused buildings, baron spaces and smashed windows are ever-present reminders of its past and an explanation of its affordability.

Shoreditch tends to get the press as the home of London’s young creative scene, but contrary to its downbeat appearance there are clear signs that Hackney Wick is one of the true playgrounds of the new school, alongside South London’s thriving Peckham scene.

Large factory rooms provide perfect homes for shared open plan residencies for live/work collectives and independent galleries/studios, though quite unlike the suave refurbishments you would see closer to the city. An influx of artists have migrated over the last decade from an increasingly gentrified and expensive Shoreditch. The area has many high profile resident artists; the Chapman brothers can be spotted in the local ‘Wick Cafe’ and Gavin Turk will be involved in the ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday.

Local artist Simon Foxell says that artists also have “absolute freedom” to work as they wish when shows are hosted in their own live/work spaces, consequently they are able to dust off any anxiety towards selling work or pandering to a la mode tastes.

Unfortunately this “concrete paradise” won’t be around forever. What you’ll see this weekend is a fleeting moment in London’s history where artist’s, on a record breaking level, have utilised neglected properties, in many cases transforming lost industrial landscapes into homes and working spaces.

Zoe Klinger creative producer of Philpott Design admits it was the inclusiveness at Mother Studios which attracted her to her current studio “we searched for different setups in London and came across Mother Studios which was perfect because of the community”. Local intern and recent graduate from London College of Fashion Anja Diskin said she got her job through just being in the area, "I got a freelance pattern cutting job purely from a chance meeting in a Vietnamese Restauraunt."

There is an urge to get involved now, while there is still an arts scene here, as Cherie says "the secret’s out" since it would be "foolish" to think that the present artistic community is a permanant feature. So come down while there is still something to celebrate.

Hackney Wicked begins on Friday 31st July over the weekend till Sunday 2nd August. Hackney Wick train station is an overground tube station one stop from Stratford and five away from Highgate and Islington. The buses 26, 30, 236, 276, 488, 388. and
night bus 26 also pass through the area.

Visit, to find out times and locations for various events.

By Monique Jackson

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