Artists have a way of reimagining a place, retelling its story and rewording the preexisting dogma that surrounds it. Romantically, the struggling artist moves to where ever she is drawn, anywhere that will allow her to create and survive. Artists attract other artists and soon their influence begins to reshape the landscape, by being forever associated with “the cool,” others are soon drawn in. What started as a change to the symbolic architecture of a place soon begins to impact the physical architecture, somewhere previously ignored now contains the trendiest clubs, restaurants, bars and stores around. Maybe this is a little like what’s happening to Hackney Wick, maybe it’s not?
Following on from our feature, London’s Portrait – Peckham, New Amsterdam Vodka once again set us the challenge of capturing a portrait of our city as part of their #ItsYourTown campaign. As the premium vodka brand launching this October rightly suggested – we should all embrace the ‘new’ in our cities. Already one of our favourite places to spend a chilled day or a not so chilled night, it didn’t take much coaxing to get us onto the overground and over to Hackney Wick. Just exiting the station you get an intriguing vibe about the place. At the forefront of your view a street art laden industrial landscape, in the background the looming presence of modern Stratford.
This image seems rather symbolic, in a now post-industrial era the warehouses were slowly vacated and the artistic community, embracing the new spirit of the town, moved in with prices more affordable than the surrounding areas. However, like the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg, post-Olympic Stratford watches and threatens the Wick, a symbol of development that could potentially price residents out once again. Gentrification, an inescapable theme that finds it’s way inevitably into each of our London’s Portraits.
If you didn’t know where to go, it would be easy to think Hackney Wick were a ghost town, haunted by the factory workers of its industrial past. It’s difficult to tell whether shoes strung up by the laces from a telephone wire are a sign of life or life that once was. The mystery continues as you walk amongst large warehouses, uncertain as to whether they’re inhabited or not, the eyes of graffitied characters that clad their exteriors follow you down the street with ambiguous glares.
It’s in walking towards the canal and along its banks that you’ll discover the more visible spirit of the Wick. Number 90 Bar and CRATE Brewery & Pizzeria are both unrefined social hubs perfect for food and drinks, they abandoned the pretence of Central London establishments and attempt to intentionally distance themselves from its atmosphere. Yet without a doubt the heartbeat of London can still be felt with all its might, pumping blood cells in and allowing a vibrant, diverse and energetic life to prosper, something that can’t always be said for the outer zones of Greater London (in our experience anyway).
While the arts, drinks in the sun and pizza are great daytime activities, we all know a place often becomes unrecognisable at night, Hackney Wick is no different. Blame it on the dizzied eyes or blame it on a change of clothes, the being you walked alongside looks different under a cloak of
darkness, you now link arms with a wilder beast. Those London veins flow with more than just blood as the days antics take their toll, the urge to dance seems irresistible and the calming sound of conversation is replaced by a beat that gives energy to your adrenal glands.
While Hackney Wick inevitably has “go-to” nightlife spots, the fun is in being given a treasure map where X marks the party spot. Only those with their ear to the street know where to get a map and only those with the dedication to keep digging find gold. Ok, enough with the allegory, essentially the best nights in the area require a little research unless you’re a regular to the area. Sometimes controversially (occasionally illegally), it’s warehouses make great event spaces. While warehouse raves are nothing new, they’re bound to bring excitement to an area. Hackney is one of the many changing faces of London with an exciting and unstoppable buzz within.
Hackney Wick provides the modern Londoner with a modern adaptation of city life and the older community with a relished sense of nostalgia, let us know your thoughts and insider Wick tips!
“#ItsYourTown is a mini series from New Amsterdam Vodka capturing real-world commentary from some of the UK’s most buzzing party towns – London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Gather your tribe and share your town on your terms at #ItsYourTown.”