‘In The Shadow of The Olympics’ is a radio documentary that contemplates the current and gradual gentrification of  the unique area that is Hackney Wick.

At the eve of Hackney Wicked Festival 2011, I spent several weeks photographing a place that I love that is changing in an attempt to encapsulate the stage of it’s history that I have been involved with. I interviewed generations of artist and business residents about their thoughts of an area they had either themselves helped to re develop or had chosen to live and work.  My conversations with the programme contributors questioned the future of a place that was initially known for it’s geographic isolation and poverty. Progressing, historically The Wick became a highly successful area of industry, before strength was drained as economic changes forced highly prolific factories into closure. Empty factories became an opportunity for occupation by artists out of necessity rather than design, and now The Wick’s latest incarnation has seen an influx of creative people move there to become part of a regenerated scene. In turn rent has dramatically risen and property developers have followed closely behind.

Hackney Wick is a fascinating story that gained an even stranger chapter with the arrival of the Olympic Village on it’s doorstep, a major part of which is it’s huge, callous shopping complex. Having the romantic attachment I feel for an area that suddenly seemed under threat, I asked the program contributors for predictions of the future of the area, then of London itself, and even of what it is to be an artist. Has the role of an artist itself gentrified within the consumerist age?

‘In The Shadow of The Olympics’ includes interviews with topographers Nick Papadimitriou and John Rogers and the author Iain Sinclair

© Aimée Neat 2012