Walking around Hackney WickED, it was hard to believe that it only started four years ago – the first event was conceived when just a few artists got together and decided to open the doors of their studios to the public.
This weekend it was a very different story. During the days the streets were bustling with people not from just Hackney Wick, but from all over East London – if not further afield – rifling through the flea markets, sampling the food stalls (Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen was a highlight) and wandering through the seemingly never ending open studios and warehouses.
As night fell, the area was transformed; it filled with revellers, encouraged by the DJs and live music on every corner and the atmosphere was of one of a fully fledged festival. It’s great to see the spirit of community alive and kicking in London, and the success that can come from the combined efforts of just a few people. The flip side is that as any public event grows in success, it creates a backlash.
There were hints of a community struggling with the dramatically changing area; the signs of ‘gentrification’ in preparation for the Olympics were all around, and it can only mean that the tight-knit community of artists and creatives that have made the area what it is for so long are eventually pushed out by redevelopment and rising prices. It will be interesting to see how the festival pans out next year; riding off the back of the Olympics and the effects of this year’s success will mean more policing, ‘health and safety’ and the inevitable price hikes that are sure to give the event a very different feel.
Photo taken in Hackney Wick – artist unknown.