TEXT BY 撰文 x Harry Liu 劉競晨
TRANSLATED BY 翻譯 x Syndi Huang 黃煥欣
Hackney is an area with a collection of artists, creatives and studios. Because of the community they formed, Hackney becomes a vibrant and hippest location in London. We have particularly paid visits to a number of artists who live and work there, to present the art community lifestyles and studios through their narrations and interviews.
In order to leave a macro impression in a whole for readers, we take Hackney as an example from a general point of view.
Hackney is a municipality under the jurisdiction of Greater London, located in the northeast of London, seven or eight km away from the city centre. Although it seems not far away, a lot of people who first come to Hackney are amazed to find it so different from “London”. Hackney is an area with a long history. It is said the name of Hackney can be tracked back to 1000 years ago, the Middle Age, and it is from 16th century it began to flourish. Until today, there remain over 1,300 protected historic buildings in the entire region, many of which are historical heritage from the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras. St Augustine’s Tower, built in the 13th century in the downtown Hackney, is the oldest building in the area.
倫敦的哈克尼地區是在大倫敦管轄之下的一個自治市，位於倫敦市東北部，距離中心城區7到8公里，雖然看上去距離不算遠，但很多第一來到哈克尼地區的人都會驚嘆這裡與“倫敦”的巨大不同。哈克尼地區是一個歷史極其悠久的地方，據說“哈克尼”這個名字可以追溯到1000年前的中世紀，而且這裡從16世紀中期就開始蓬勃發展。直到今天，整個區域內還有超過1300座受保護的歷史性建築，很多都是都鐸、喬治和維多利亞時代的歷史遺產，其中坐落於哈克尼市中心的聖奧古斯丁塔（St Augustine’s Tower）興建於13世紀，是這個地區最古老的建築。
The Hackney area we are talking about now was officially established in 1965, covering nearly 20 square kilometres of the northeast London. For a very long period of time, this area received no good reputation, since after World War II immigrants from different nations flooded to the area. Consequently, it earned the name synonymous with crime and poverty. BBC once reported here gathered the poorest people in Britain, nearly half of the children living in low-income families, and as its crime rate remained high, some places in Hackney were called “land of murder”.
The good news is, since the new millennium with the joint efforts of local communities and the Metropolitan Police Department, the safety in the area has witnessed great improvement, with the fastest crime rate drop in London. At the same time, the multiracial mix has been being deepened in Hackney. The 2011 survey shows only 4% of the local population are white British, while 85% of the new population are of other ethnic groups. Because of its cultural diversity and tolerance, for more than 10 years, more and more young people engaged in creative industries have been gathering here. Meanwhile, it is also dispensable from the great support and investment for the cultural and creative industries from the City of London government. The preferential policies and support provide for the young people the opportunity to exercise their talents in this arena. This on the one hand sorts out the problem of idle buildings and industrial factories in the northeast area, and on the other hand stimulates the economic transformation and personnel restructuring in Hackney, which is to achieve various goals at one stroke.
Today’s Hackney though cannot strictly be defined as an arts district, as the scope of its coverage is indeed very large, this community brings together over 600 art spaces and studios available for exhibitions (each place accommodates almost thirty to forty designers and artists), and here locate 170 galleries and museums with an abundance of exhibitions, lectures and a variety of activities. In accordance with this standard, Hackney is one of the most intensive districts in the world with regard to the distribution of artists and arts organizations per square metre.