I love open studio days. There’s nothing better than poking your nose around the door of an artist’s studio and being welcomed into their world with a cheery wave and the opportunity to hear, at close hand, the background, inspiration and process involved with their art. I’ve yet to meet an artist who doesn’t like talking about their work – is eager to indicate a piece and describing the narrative of its creation. (If anyone stumbles into MY studio it’s exactly the same – and for the artist it’s as though you are seeing your work for the first time too.)
So, I just love the annual Hackney Wicked Weekend. It started just before the London Olympics when this rough and tumble area of east London found itself, literally, in the shadow of the fabulous stadium and all the whizzy, shiny buildings which appeared for that glorious summer of 2012.
Of course the price artists ultimately pay for colonising an area where the buildings are ramshackle and the rents are cheap is that the developers start circling pretty soon. And you can see that’s exactly what’s happened in Hackney Wick. Where ten years ago we might have meandered along cobbled streets next to ancient brick walls encasing crumbling warehouses and industrial spaces, there are now shiny new apartment blocks and artfully paved communal spaces. Hey, ho, I suppose it’s progress but it is still a delight to know that there is a patch of London where artists can work (and live!) and produce their work in good sized spaces which are boiling in summer and freezing in winter and know that they can concentrate on whatever creative endeavour needs pursuing without minding whether paint splashes on the floor or noxious fumes emanate from the windows.
Getting off the Overground at Hackney Wick there’s not much to tell you what goes on inside these buildings. Yes, there’s a lot of graffiti and a bit of signage but the trick is to just march in, penetrate those corridors, heedless of the peeling paint and damp patches, and look for an open door to a studio space. I only saw a fraction of what was on show but it was fascinating. There is such a variety of work going on and some serious talent on show. So here’s a little gallery of my own which I have created for your delectation.
Fabulous impression of a market in Barbados by Paul Dash
Great to meet Anastasia Beltyukova whose strong red and black print was chosen as a main image to promote the festival.
Above: portraits of toys and stuffed animals by Peter Jones – toys thrown out of prams and collected by him.
Rainy cafe scene by Gethin Evans.