Hackney is a north-east borough of London, and home to many artists with diverse stories to tell. Unfortunately, the unyielding process of gentrification is beginning to price artists out of their homes and studios, threatening their ability to express their stories in the place that they call home.
One such voice is that of Aida Wilde, a print artist who first came to London in the 1980s as a political refugee. Her print studio and shop are situated in the heart of the East End, in Brick Lane, where Aida sells her hand-printed clothing. She has also exhibited her screen prints at major exhibitions and her own solo shows. In 2016, as a protest against the homogenisation and ‘death’ of the culture of Hackney Wick, Aida and her friend organised a funeral-like procession. ‘The aim was to recreate some sort of Cray-inspired funeral cortège where our pull bearers would carry this effigy like a coffin.’
Another artist who certainly has a unique voice is Mary Stephenson. Mary is a prop artist and photographer, who creates tableaux that portray a combination of real people and fabricated props and scenery. Many of Mary’s portraits come across as light-hearted: a picnic between Mary and a prop ‘man’ takes place in front of a painted idyllic scene. However, others are more poignant, such as a party scene whose constructed and fabricated setting reflects the desire of the attendees to fabricate their own outward personas.
Both Aida and Mary feature in Jenny Lewis’s Hackney Studios - a recent photography book published by Hoxton Mini Press that celebrates the creative and cultural diversity of the London borough. It presents a network of artists who have all recommended one another, revealing the synergistic relationship of community and creativity.