E8PLUS HACKNEY

 

MASTER THESIS

UNLTD AWARD WINNER 2013 - 2016

 

E8plus Hackney is a social community project and exhibition located in Hackney Central-London, in the E8 post code. This was developed as a Master thesis from the Central Saint Martins' MA Narrative Environments. As a space where stories gradually unfold, a Narrative Environment is a temporary or permanent installation aiming to build, de-construct and re-build our perception of a space and narrate a meaningful story to its audience. An analysis of the spatial features along with its users behavior fuses with a more abstract application of narrative theories, which ultimately help to set the tone for the whole experience designed.

 

 

CAN ART BE A CATALYST TO CREATE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE DESIGNERS

AND HOMELESS PEOPLE OF HACKNEY CENTRAL? 

 

 

 

homeless PEOPLE

 

 

Hackney - east London is one of the areas with the highest peak of poverty in the capital (Charity Commission, NCVO/TSRC, 2012). Recent statistics refer to the number of rough sleepers, beggars and vulnerable people to be one of the highest of the last 10 years. (CHAIN, annual report rough sleepers, table 3, 2013). The image below shows the area in UK most effected by homelessness based on the data from IPSOS Mori research.

 

 HACKNEY:

 

A DIVIDED COMMUNITY

 

 

 

EMERGING DESIGNERS

 

 

Hackney has become an area with huge appeal to a large cross-section of Londoners.

The area around London Fields and Broadway Market is a hub for artists and foodies. While Mare Street is at the heart of thriving Hackney with its Picture house and historical theatre. Today, Hackney is a leading area in the capital expansion. 40% of residents are from the creative industries (IPSOS MORI, social research institute, report 2012); this includes design students and graduates. New commercial activities and design studios are opening. It’s the place for art is often produced, in its old warehouses, along Regent’s canal and commonly, on the walls of the old rail bridges.

 

THE MATCHES

 

Over six months of meetings and shared stories, eight designers and eight homeless people decided to pair up together for E8Plus Hackney. From their experience they conceptualized and co-created a series of art pieces that would expose fragments of their lives and hidden sides of their community.

 

 

HOW TO SPREAD IT TO THE WHOLE COMMUNITY?

 

TO PROMOTE THE ARTWORKS: A series of interventions have taken place on a bright magenta wall at 247 Mare Street. As crucial crossroads of the area, the location aimed to expose the process behind the artworks of some of the participants. The concepts of the pieces appear next to an interpretation of their aesthetic through an explorative use of materials, words and layout. 

 

TAKING ON THE FACE OF THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY

 

TO PROMOTE THE EXHIBITION: The passersby are asked to take part of a set scene by becoming the main character of the urban intervention. By holding the mask of the project, they can embody the homeless community and support their conciliation with the local artistic hub. The mask and logo identity of E8plus Hackney aims to represent the two faces of the project joined by a plus symbol. The corporate magenta color comes from the wall at 247 Mare Street, as that is the first place where the project has been conceptualized. The erased features of the logo are from faces of a designer and homeless person who met through the project.

 

BUILDING A STREET ART KIT 

 

These street art interventions aimed to bring local's attention to the social and political issue of homelessness in the area. Every place where the artists and homeless people participating have met had been marked. Hundreds of paste-ups and QR codes that once scanned reveal the stories of the meetings of all of the people involved in E8plus Hackney.

 

ART PIECE n 3 - IMPRESSIONS 

 

THIS IS AN ART PIECE CONCEPTUALIZED BY FREYA (EMERGING ARTIST) AND MARK (HOMELESS MAN)

'When I first met Mark, we had a hard time connecting. I was aware that my blonde hair and empathetic smiles were not helping his perception of me as a spoilt, white middle class girl. I felt like I represented everything that had challenged him in his life, and I felt like an idiot for it. I created this piece to represent how speaking to Mark made me really consider my place in the world. The broken shell represent my space within a sea of privilege – my challenge now is to find a way to change this'. 

CAN ART BE A CATALYST TO CREATE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE DESIGNERS

AND HOMELESS PEOPLE OF HACKNEY CENTRAL? 

 

 

 

THE EXHIBITION:

A JOURNEY THROUGH MARE STREET

 

AT THE HACKNEY SHOP

 

 

 

A SILENT AUCTION 

 

The opening event hosted a silent auction which allowed the guests to bid on top of a fixed price. At the end of the night, four out of eight art pieces sold for more than double their initial price for a total of 700 pounds. The exhibition attracted local and national press such as the Hackney Gazzette, the Voice magazine and two reporters from a periodical Mexican art magazine, their interest helped to expand the voice of the project from a local audience to a wider London audience through a successful Twitter campaign.

 

A NARRATIVE ENVIRONMENT

 

The stories of the participants unfold in the resulting exhibition, ‘A Journey through Mare Street’. Through an immersive narrative experience of Mare Street, visitors are asked to ‘take on’ the character’s point of view and explore the space with a map. By encouraging viewers to see a familiar place through different eyes, the exhibition aims to stimulate transformation, highlighting the negative aspects of the rapid gentrification that areas such as Hackney Central are undergoing. This was the synthesis of an hyperlocal experiment in community cohesion, challenging the stereotypes of homelessness through art and storytelling. 

 

 

PROJECT OUTCOMES 

 

Art became a catalyst, the local homeless people from the Saturday Soup Kitchen (SSK) had the chance to talk to a crowd willing to share opinions on the community without judgment. The proceeds from the exhibition helped the SSK to become a registered charity and the project brought new occasional volunteers to join their action. Another half of the money went to support 'The Pavement magazine' with their program: 'words on the street' consisting  of a full month training on journalism for homeless people. We believed that investing in such project would give the right tools to the homeless people to fight for their rights and integrate in the wider community.

 

 

 

HOW did THEY MEET?

 

Local designers and artists signed up for a one time or long term connection with the local homeless community through volunteering. The meetings happened at the Saturday Soup Kitchen, a food distribution event next to Mare Street in Hackney Central (E8) - London. Beside the E8Plus team of regular volunteers, the designers visiting the venue changed every week for over six months. There food was served, clothes donated, and incredible life stories shared between the two groups in a vibrant atmosphere.

HOW DID THEY MEET?

 

Local designers and artists signed up for a one time or long term connection with the local homeless community through volunteering. The meetings happened at the Saturday Soup Kitchen, a food distribution event next to Mare Street in Hackney Central (E8) - London. Beside the E8Plus team of regular volunteers, the designers visiting the venue changed every week for over six months. There food was served, clothes donated, and incredible life stories shared between the two groups in a vibrant atmosphere.

 

 

luca ponticelli
luca ponticelli archive