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Hackney Wick Graffiti Reclaims the Wick

Long before the likes of Banksy moved to Hackney Wick and began producing street art in the area, graffiti held dominance. The quiet industrial streets of yesteryear were perfect for writers to communicate among themselves. There was no internet, smartphones or digital images, everything was burned to film. As a writer you were driven by the desire to be seen by your kin, it didn’t matter about anyone else outside the game. Hackney Wick was the domain of graffiti for decades before street art made the area popular and hundreds of artist studios were established in the empty warehouse buildings.

Street art was being produced on factory scale, filtering its way throughout the city. The rough and tough hoods of Hackney were now highly desirable to the upwardly mobile class. Property developers spread throughout Hackney Wick like a virus, reshaping the landscape and language of its community. A decade later and developers have squeezed hundreds of artists from their studios. They were many objections, steering communities, focus groups and protests which served little impediment to the process. Today the entire area is destined to be knocked down and rebuilt into high-end apartment blocks and structures.

Graffiti writers are well-versed on rapid changes brought on by development, they carried on as normal, tagging walls, slapping up stickers and throw ups. Graffiti is now bigger than ever in Hackney Wick, a return to source for writers reclaiming even more space. Where some folks may be horrified to see entire buildings covered in graffiti, it should be noted the structures are coming down. It’s extremely unlikely the new buildings would be tagged in this way. Right now its a constantly evolving public gallery of graffiti, celebrating all styles and formats. We shot these photos recently but we’re sure much of it has already changed.


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