Hackney WickED Art Festival unashamedly crosses art forms, creating a democracy of creativity that year-on-year has White Post Lane and surrounding areas of Hackney Wick bursting at the seams.

Part street festival, part open studio bonanza and part curated contemporary art exhibition, the annual event takes over the warehouse spaces, street corners and yards of The Wick and Fish Island. Live painting, craft stalls, conceptual and site-specific art, live music, impromptu performances, street kitchens and haute cuisine can all be found within reach of each other, co-existing within the dynamic and buzzing flow of people.

Centred on this year’s festival hub, christened ‘the Hackney WickED Riviera’ at Forman’s Fish Island and Swan Wharf, Hackney WickED 2014 opens this Friday 1 August and runs over the Saturday and Sunday. The core programme of events includes the ever-popular artists market, Fete for the WickED, a Graffiti Jam and the festival’s main music stage. The two venues also play host to the main curated exhibition and artist-led Elevator Gallery‘s new graduate show, The Tomorrow People.

New developments

Initially something of an anomaly among the artist-occupied and semi-functioning industrial warehouses, the imposing Forman’s Fish Island – a fish restaurant, smoking factory and events venue housed within a salmon-shaped purpose-designed new build – has become a core partner, lending its immense space, plush venue & rooftop views to the artist-led festival. In the last couple of years it has been joined by the new developments of Swan Wharf and The White Building, marking the noticeable changes to the area that have occurred over the seven-year period the festival has been in existence.

Throughout The Wick and Fish Island, the legacy of artists live-work studios, collective warehouse projects and alternative lifestyles still resound through the studios, itinerant sound projects and roaming performance events. Gabriella Bertin’s pop-up photo booth, Hackney WickED Selfie, documents visitors, while Arebyte Gallery host AffordableWick, a roaming workspace built from reclaimed materials that will host an exhibition on the concept of the ‘dream home’ by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori and Nimrod Vardi.

Arebyte also present an interactive installation by Mark Farid, and the long running artist-led Schwartz Gallery will be presenting a solo show, Drop Dead Gorgeous by Alexandra Drawbridge. Studio complex Stour Space, home to the Counter Cafe, present an exhibition that in the spirit of Hackney Wick’s eclectic artistic community brings together illustration, street art and fine art.

Scale of ambition

This year Hackney WickED has received its first ever Grants for the arts award from Arts Council England and a number of artists, including Laura Oldfield Ford, Rosie Ridgway and Eloise Fornieles, have received commissions and bursaries to develop new site-specific works, participatory projects or to support their open studios exhibitions.

While the festival no longer has the anarchic combination of official and squatted events, it is taking on a different scale of ambition that will hopefully still convey the artistic energy, DIY spirit and art world links that this unique area of London nurtures.

As as artist and Festival Patron Gavin Turk says: “What people don’t realise about Hackney WickED Art Festival is the honesty of the festival; it is made from the energy of the artists… It really is quite different to any other festivals that people will have gone to.”

Hackney WickED Art Festival, 1-3 August. www.hackneywicked.co.uk

Also on a-n.co.uk:

Hackney WickED 2014 commissions and bursaries announced

Hackney WickED Festival: a cultural phenomenon by Pippa Koszerek