Monday, 1 August 2011

Hackney Wicked

The completed olympic stadium across the river from Hackney Wick
With just a year to go until the 2012 Olympics, the walk along the river Lea is changing... new surfacing on the footpaths and reinforced banks, the beginnings of the inevitable manicure of Hackney Marshes. This weekend the usually peaceful path from Millfields to the Olympic site was unusually busy and our leisurely walk was spent constantly sidestepping to avoid being mown down by the stream of cyclists who were, as we, heading for the 4th Hackney Wicked arts festival. The streets of Fish Island on the opposite side from the 2012 site were crowded with people enjoying a hot, sunny weekend of cultural offerings. This weekend, the area, which hosts the highest concentration of artists' studios in the country, was buzzing with a creative celebration of art, craft, music and moving image.
Local artists opened their studios and exhibited work in pop-up spaces. There was a feast of multicultural food and drink stalls and craft market stalls lined the curbs. Live music filled the air and booze-happy revelers partied into the balmy night.
The river, coated in green algae, provided cool respite for some daring swimmers and played host to a Coracle Regatta. Courageous volunteers raced across the river in the tiny bowl-shaped vessels, many capsizing into the water, drawing a crowd of cheering spectators on both banks.
The Coracle Regatta on the River Lea
Folly for a Flyover under the A12 in Hackney Wick
As we wandered back towards home we stopped for some shade and refreshments at Folly For A Flyover, a temporary building (cafĂ©) hand-built using reclaimed wood from the area underneath the graffiti-adorned east and westbound flyover of the A12. The folly was constructed in June and will soon be dismantled, so it's worth a visit to a catch film, workshop, boat trip or a snack before it disappears!
Continuing homeward we reflected on our enjoyment of a sunny, hot and truly Hackney weekend!

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