Hackney now flaunts artisan coffee, craft beer and cultural pursuits as its main attractions yet it was once the site of the largest botanical hothouse in the world, filled with exotic species setting their roots in London soil for the first time. On Saturday night visitors will be able to follow an app-led art trail around Hackney's horticultural history through projections and installations which transport visitors back to more tropical times.
Hackney Central will be illuminated by artworks located at heritage landmarks including permanent light installations from artists Valentina Floris and Ben Foot. Churchwell Path, Morning Lane, St Augustine's Tower and St John's Church will all receive a botanical makeover as tropical plants both real and projected litter the streets and animate the buildings.
Electric Bloom is a culmination of workshops that have been run by artists with local Hackney residents, the results of which can be seen in an evolving exhibition at Sutton House. The local community are at the heart of the project and you'll be able to hear their stories and memories alongside spoken word extracts (the product of workshops run by PolarBear and Raymond Atrobrus) through the app.
On the night you can also treat your ears to a soundscape made up of the Hackney Voices Choir and the Bell Ringers of St Johns. Orphy Robinson and Rowland Sutherland will also perform an original composition on the night.
Hackney's narrative is largely one of redevelopment attracting people with money, yet its derelict factories once employed over 15,000 people in the textile trade. Electric Bloom hopes that the permanent installations will serve as reminders to the local community of this rich heritage before it is redeveloped as shiny new apartments.
Electric Bloom is on 12 September 5pm-11pm at St John at Hackney and St Augustine's Tower and is free to attend. The Arts Trail App is available to download from 10 September.