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A growing gathering of creatives from East London are proving that artists are doing it for themselves, taking inspiration from their Hackney Wick location and it’s proximity to the Olympic site, the collectives at Number 55 are turning any available space over in the name of art.
As you walk from the Hackney Wick train station, the first building you'll come across is an early Victorian warehouse known as Lion Works. Once an industrial laundry, the last ten years have seen the warehouse and the surrounding buildings at number 55 Wallis Road gradually transformed into a collection of studios and live/work flats by an intriguing bunch of creatives.
Logan, an illustrator and resident of Lion Work, describes why she loves the area: "It's a bit like the wild west, as there are so few cars and people, that apart from tumble weed, there are trades dudes and some weirdo artists shuffling around. A perfect place to create from, as there is a sense of space...with the knowledge that London's wealth of inspiration is a short train or bike ride."
The communal style living and shared interests of the occupants has led to a strong community being formed, everyone seems to know everyone and collaborations have occurred, like ‘Sculpture,’ an audio visual performance duo set up by neighbours Reuben Sutherland and Dan Hayhurst.
Due to the lack of amenities or nightlife in the area, artists are inspired to create their own entertainment, so the building plays hosts to community parties, bbqs and games nights. Last year, when the tennant’s heard that the local galleries were planning to hold an arts festival in the area, Lion Works was one of the first set of studios to get involved, holding a mini community festival called ‘Up Your Alley,’ encompassing two galleries and an art market.
The brains behind one of those galleries is the illustrator and art entrapenur, Betony May. Utilising an unloved corridor at the top of Lion Works, she transformed it into the Top and Tail gallery, which became an unexpected hit of last year's festival. Betony descibes how her inspiration for setting up the gallery was the building itself:
"The gallery is set in part of a Victorian warehouse building where we have our studios. Along, bright, corridor space with beautiful windows all down one side. Before it was really just a dumping ground for all sorts of old bikes, mannequins and bits of wood. I just saw it as a waste. When I found out about Hackney Wicked Festival I saw this as the perfect time to get it off the ground and get a bunch people in the building together for our first show.”
Now in its second year, the artist-run space will host an exciting group show entitled Glory Hole to coincide with the ‘Hackney Wicked’ festival. With the pick of the surrounding studio’s work, you can expect to find a diverse collection of work from video art to printmaking, painting, photography and illustration. The theme of this years exhibition has taken inspiration from the era that the building was erected, and the people of that time, the exhibition will revolve around Victorian London. From the Dickensian gin palaces to the squalor of East end lifestyle, the turn of the century’s’ equivalent to our recession struck times.
Charles Dickens once said of these gin palaces, “perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness and dirt we have just left…” Top and Tail gallery are hoping to create the same effect.Come to the opening night and catch Gin (of course), peepholes, juniper paintings, picture-disks, screen-prints, etching, pigeon holes, penny publications, kaleidoscopes, drunken mothers, reel to reel performance, and some more gin!
To find out more about the Top and Tail gallery and the participating artists, click here.
‘Glory Hole’ will run from July 31st- August 2nd 2009
Private View July 31st 6-9pm
Liquid Studios located next to Lion Works at number 55 will be hosting a night of
performances and video art called Hop, Skip which examines the art of games.
Martina O’shea curator of the event describes the importance of game playing:
“We all play them, from the playground to the grave! life is a game! What games would you like to play? How would you like it to begin and end and how many players will they be? Some physical games test endurance, stamina, strength, skill, agility and focus, while some test your mental ability. Some say it's the taking part that counts while others need hard fast results! What about the games we play in relationships, do you play the sulk, the jerk or the square? For one night only we have invited artists to make up their own game or make work from existing games.”
Liquid Studios, Friday 31st July. 6-10pm
For more information on Hop. Skip click here
The alleyway that combines these two buildings lie at the heart of this community, two residents, Tana West and Ceal Warnants decided to transform this space into a ‘Fun Palace.’ A reaction against the Olympic authority and the London development agency suggesting this area is a blank space, devoid of value and in need of 'regeneration'. During the 1960's, the Lower Lea Valley (which is now the site for the 2012 Olympic's) was the proposed area for Cedric Price's unrealised 'Fun Palace.' It was to be a 'shed of infinite possibilities, light weight, ultimately disposable but always responsive to the needs of a leisure orientated society.’
In the spirit of Price's 'Fun Palace' and the Wick they are going to create something playful throughout the weekend, inviting all to participate as the alleyway is colourfully transformed using cardboard, plastic bags, palettes and other disposable items.
Fun Palace will run over the weekend of 1st-2nd August.
For more information about Hackney Wicked and what will be going on over that weekend visit www.hackneywicked.com