This weekend, the third Hackney Wicked festival takes over the Olympic buffer zone of Hackney Wick. This proud local community of makers and shapers - the latest figures peg the number of active artist studios in The Wick at 624 - will turn their square mile of infrastructure inside out, spilling colour and good times onto the drab streets.
Beginning on Friday night, hundreds of the studios and art spaces, warehouses and live-work units will be open to the public, to nose around in as painters, sculptors, metalworkers, jewellers, digital-and-otherwise artists create and show off their work. If you’ve had enough of the behemoth institutionalised collections, are sick of ambrosial Hoxton and Mayfair spaces, or simply curious about what contemporary art is being made RIGHT NOW, it’s an exceptional through-the-keyhole opportunity, and alone enough to fill an entire weekend of acceptable trespassing.
That would be to miss out on a plentiful programme of events, diversions and attractions, however. There’s music, performance, kid’s stuff and plentiful hair-letting-down opportunities. A good place to get your bearings is Queen’s Yard (behind Hackney Wick station) which will play host to eight hours of live music each day, and also the Fete for the Wicked, a local produce market where you’ll find anything from takeaway fine French cuisine to limited edition lithographs from a tombola. The Peanut Factory, focal point of things further south on Fish Island, hosts a variety stage including profanely intriguing performance from Tax Deductible Theatre and the outstanding local circus-cabaret group The Hive.
Collaborative drawing, an art-treasure hunt for kids, outdoor cinema, graffiti Jams and more will give the participatory minded happy with lots to take part in. While Sunday sees it build to a carnivally conclusion - there’s the annual Coracle Regatta on the Leigh Navigation, the Hackney Wick Cold War Re-Enactment Society relive the Cuban blockade, and the festival procession and closing party including the burning of the Wicker Man, created by artist Adam Beale.
This is, of course, on top of the fearsomely oven-fresh exhibitions in the Wick’s network of galleries - Schwarz gallery, Elevator gallery and even the Olympic Park View-Tube are putting on specially curated shows. And there’ll be plenty more creativity floating, roaming and intervening around the towpaths, canals, and concrete mazes that make up this bit of E9.
Not many festivals can really guarantee something you’ve never seen before, but Hackney Wicked can a hundred times over. Take a peek, and worry about “how-the-hell-do-we-get-home-from-here” later.
Hackney Wicked runs Friday 30th July - Sunday 1 August. All the info at www.hackneywicked.com.