Posts Tagged ‘hackney wick’

Pussy Power is sitting in her studio at Warehouse B16, The Old Peanut Factory, wearing a feathered eye mask and smoking a rollie. Behind her, the wall is covered in black and white photos of French actress Sarah Bernhardt. In the corner, a row of bunting made out of porn mags hangs across the biggest pair of pants I have ever seen. A cast of a pelvic bone made out of Dolly Mixtures next to them on a table. Pussy Power greets me warmly, and invites me to take my shoes off (because of the carpet) and come in.

Pussy Power

Why do you call yourself Pussy Power?

The art I make under the name Pussy Power (which includes sewing, painting, drawing, performance, writing and making ukeleles) is about trying figure out what kind of a world I’m bringing my daughters up in. It’s also about trying to figure out what feminism is, as it seems to have become a dirty word. Pussy Power embodies feminism for women who love men and have a sense of humour.

Tell me about the pants.

I have two daughters – one’s twelve, one’s seventeen – and I worked out I’ve washed over 10,000 pairs of knickers. It makes me a bit of an authority. So I got the biggest knickers in Britain, asked people to get in them and gallop up and down. They are officially the biggest knickers in Britain – 8XL, I think. I searched online and found the Big Bloomer Company, who sent them to me beautifully packaged up in red tissue paper. And I have written on them:

The thing about these Hackney Wickers
I’m told is they’re wearing no knickers
So why not try these
They come to your knees

What about the bunting?

I started off doing graffiti porn because I was interested in the fact that graffiti has become like wallpaper: people aren’t shocked by it anymore. I call it c**t bunting or the fanny banner. People say, “Oh yeah, porn is hilarious,” but let’s not get so ironic and cool and edgy that we forget these are people. I get inside the picture with these women and look out at you, laughing.

And the pelvic bone?

The pelvic bone (which is cast in clay, and covered in white sugar and Dolly Mixtures) highlights an injury I had to my pelvis when I was pregnant. I had a trapped nerve. I knew a woman who took an overdose because of the pain of it, so I’m trying to raise consciousness.

How long have you been working in this studio?

I decided last december that I wanted to get a studio and answered an ad on Facebook. I had no idea Hackney Wick had a reputation as an artistic community; I just wanted a studio. I’ve lived in Shoreditch for 8 years and watched it become more and more trendy. It pushes studio rents out of my price range. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m part of a community of artists but it’s nice to be in an environment where you feel like anything goes – whatever daft idea you have.
You can read the full story of the Biggest Knickers in Britain on the Pussy Power website.


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Decima Gallery, Hackney Wick

Decima Gallery, Hackney Wick

To get to the Decima Gallery in Hackney Wick, you must walk through a deserted industrial estate in London’s notoriously crime-ridden Tower Hamlets borough. In the middle of an abandoned peanut factory, there is a blue metal door with the word “Decima” scrawled across it in dripping white paint.

When the door rasps open, the bustle of life is quite a shock after the empty streets. People of all ages wander across a central courtyard. In the corner, a rack of art magazines stands out in the rain – the first clue there is a gallery nearby.

In fact, the Decima Gallery seems like more of squat than a place to exhibit art. White board walls – covered with photographs by local artist Stephen Gill – swing back on hinges to reveal tiny makeshift bedrooms in the space beyond. There is a toilet and cramped kitchen, where dirty tea towels lurk behind a saucepan full of congealed fat.

Inside DecimaDecima is one of a handful of similar studio and gallery spaces that have opened up in Hackney Wick over recent years. Semi-derelict but still residential, the area is being touted – by some – as the new centre of the contemporary London art scene.

However, with the 2012 Olympic site so close (Hackney Wick runs alongside it), most of the artists renting studio space in Hackney Wick will only be able to do so for another few years.

Someone I know has just moved out of their 100-square-foot living and working space after 7 years,” says photographer Ali Richards, 28. “If the developers take over, the atmosphere will change and the artists will leave.

Telltale signs of Hackney Wick’s ‘up and coming’ status are already beginning to appear. “You see it in the warehouse conversions, the new rave weekend casualties and the flow of sterile city boys strolling along the canal to their wanky flats,” says Ali. “You don’t get the burnt out cars anymore. Or the prostitutes.”

Others mention the new pavements, the growing numbers of skips and even the arrival of a second kebab shop. The question ‘Is your building being demolished?’ often crops up. Yet despite the insecurity, artists continue to descend on Hackney Wick like hungry locusts.

The Hackney Wicked festival, 2008Philip Reeves, 23, runs the Main Yard Gallery. The building is being pulled down for an access bridge over the canal to the Olympic site next year, but he plans to stay in this part of London. “It’s a more grown up crowd than the one you get in Shoreditch; there are less students and out-of-towners. Everyone here is an artist or industrial estate worker,” he says. “It’s a micro culture.”

It is perhaps this micro culture rather than the art itself that makes a trip to Hackney Wick worthwhile. At Decima some of the work on display seems downright amateur, stuck on the walls with Blu-Tack, but the current (and fleeting) opportunity to see Hackney Wick’s artists enjoy their cement playground is not to be missed.

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