We spent part of the weekend taking advantage of a local open studios event to peer into the work spaces of a few of the artists that we share our curiously named Fish Island neighbourhood with.
It felt strange, awkward and intrusive stepping into the studios. All the artists that participated were very welcoming, patient and kind to us but still…it felt ever so slightly uncomfortable. I was keenly aware that these are spaces where inspiration perspires, contorts and bleeds into something more tangible and visible, and that, that process is for the most part, a very personal one.
We saw worlds of different creations. Stories moulded from paint, chemical, mask, music, wood and colour. Absurdly, and perhaps due to my distant familiarity with these buildings, I grew transfixed by things removed from the showcased art. I couldn’t help but feel more absorbed by the artists’ tools. I felt drawn to their huge windows from, who’s eyes I could trace parts of our anonymous life from. I loved seeing their shared spaces, mutually stained and annotated.
Now that I have more of an idea about what is going on beyond the walls, windows and shadows that we trudge by everyday, I feel a momentary connection to the energies that buzz and hum within. Our neighbours, busy making making!
The buildings that house these studios are very old. They were constructed to serve the hard industrial needs of bourgeoning Victorian London and are now amongst the last standing vestibules to London’s manufacturing history. Ink works, chemical works, blood manure, dyes, rope works, waterproof materials, confectionery, oil works and more all did their business here. Then
times changed, modernisation came, WWII obliterated and altered the area beyond repair in some parts. Other parts were left to eek out their place in a recovering modern London. Chunks of the area were declared toxic and for so long it was shunned, disregarded and largely forgotten. Slowly, artists tiptoed in and made it their home. By 2005 Fish Island housed the biggest concentration of artists within a single neighbourhood in Europe. Then the Olympics happened. Then the developer’s saw opportunities and greed lead them to our doorstep. Now Fish Island and future of many of the studios here hang in a fragile moment in time. Local authorities are forgetting what needs to be conserved. Promises are being made, people are being betrayed. Who knows if any of us will be here this time next year or the next.
Please sign the petition and help us save Hackney Wick.