BACKGROUND OF HACKNEY WICKED
Hackney WickED Art Festival began in summer 2008, springing up from the garden of The Residence Gallery, when a group of local artists decided to coordinate a series of local art events to highlight and celebrate the breadth and diversity of art and creativity in the area. Galleries including The Residence Gallery, Elevator Gallery, Decima Gallery and The Wallis Gallery set up exhibitions, studio doors were opened, a makeshift stage created and Hackney WickED Art Festival was born.
The festival allowed visitors the chance to explore the labyrinth of artist studios, live-work spaces and up-and-coming galleries hidden behind the normally unwelcoming façade of industrial streets and warehouse walls.
The 2008 festival was generally attended by local residents and artists, but those in the know covered the event, such as Time Out, ArtRabbit and various art & culture publications. The term WAGs was coined…. Wick Art Galleries.
Dubbed by NY Arts Magazine as ‘the most vital art event of the summer’ 2008.
In 2009, the group continued to facilitate the organisation of the festival, engaging with more local artists by running open forum events and finding representatives for each of the buildings/venues across The Wick to help coordinate the 1000s of artists based in both the Hackney and Tower Hamlets sides. Based on the growing festival, more volunteers were recruited to bring the event together. This year, locally based artist Gavin Turk took on the role of Patron for the festival with an official opening ceremony in Wallis Yard, where the main stage and Fate for the WickED were based. The Coracle Regatta, run by Harry Meadows, also became a staple of the festival as well as live Graffiti Jams across the extensive yards and walls of the area. Hackney WickED became a Community Interest Company, making the commitment to invest in the local area and communities and Openvizor also joined forces as the main festival sponsor.
In 2010 the three-day format stayed in place, with the last weekend of July/early August as the regular festival dates. With resident galleries such as Elevator Gallery, Schwartz Gallery, Stour Space, Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery taking part, as well as a large number of pop-up galleries and over 500 studios and collaborators such as Create. This year visitors came from far and wide, reaching 10,000+ people over the weekend from across Europe, with media coverage reaching the other side of the pond, in the States. The event was brought to a close with the burning of the Hackney WickED Chicken, whilst crowds and carnival artists celebrated in Queens Yard.
In 2011 the festival nearly burst at the seams, with the streets of The Wick flooded with a constant steam of people coming off the buses and overground from early Friday evening until late on Sunday. 2011 continued to include the events and excitement of previous years but also featured education and participation more heavily, with a programme called ‘Exchange’ as a way of encouraging development in local schools and with the various local communities. Hackney WickED Art Festival 2011 was a great success and celebration of the arts, with even more participating artists and the largest stage areas seen to date.
With estimates of attendance in 2011 rising as high as 25,000+ people, it became evident that for future festivals there would be a requirement for a stronger infrastructure to manage the ever-growing crowds and maintain focus on art in the area. For this reason, and the obvious clash of events with the London 2012 Olympic Games, Hackney WickED Art Festival was reformed for 2012 as a series of high profile curated events running throughout the year, focusing more specifically on the individual elements; exhibitions, open studios, performance, music, film and development events, that together make up the festival.
After a year off, demand increased for return of the full festival in 2013. Existing and new sponsors, in-particular CRATE Brewery as the new Headline Sponsor, stepped up to offer the additional support needed to meet the escalating production costs the increasing scale of the event requires. This enabled Hackney WickED Art Festival to return in the 3-day festival format; championing creativity through Exhibitions, Open Studios, Performance, Film, Art Fetes, Music, Theatre, Workshops, Talks, Tours and more…
In 2014 Hackney WickED receive it’s first Arts Council England Grants for the Arts funding. This enabled the 6th edition of the Hackney WickED Art Festival to include funded commissions; including 3 live art performances, 3 year-long site-specific artworks, a live art community collaboration and 10 open studio bursaries. Hackney WickED were also invited to curate an exhibition, music stage, mini open studios and workshop as part of the V&A Hackney Wick Takeover in February and collaborated on the DIY Hackney Wick Takeback in April.
Now in its 8th year, Hackney WickED remains a dynamic force for promoting local culture – dedicated to providing a platform for artists to showcase their work alongside established and international names.
In order to focus on each of our key pillars of engagement; exhibitions, open studios, performance, music, film and development, Hackney WickED is not hosting a festival in 2015, choosing instead to programme a series of high profile curated events throughout the year. The first of which will be a fundraiser event with live music and performance, including from Douce Angoisse – the first performer ever to grace the Hackney WickED Art Festival stage in its inaugural year in 2008.
For further details on Hackney WickED and how you can support our art projects, events and work within the local community, please visit our Support Us page.