Spring 2021

In partnership with Mouth That Roars

About the PROJECT

A new project exploring experiences of home and migration in Hackney. Autograph has paired up with youth media organisation Mouth That Roars to provide workshops, training and a creative media qualification for eight young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. They’ve worked with artists and filmmakers for inspiration about how to tell stories, create powerful images and raise awareness of important social issues.

The group is creating new artworks reflecting on identity and belonging in the borough – both their own and across generations. Asking what makes Hackney home, they have interviewed elder residents about their stories of arriving to, and being a part of, our local community.

What makes Hackney home for you? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #HackneyIsHome

A young person sits in front a video camera, smiling.


Colourful polaroid images of a group young people. Each person is pulling a different pose.

“Before the project I never used cameras. It's given me hope, to start working in media.”

Andreus, Luis, Andrea, Francia, Francois, Mohammad, Brian and Djamila are all young people from a refugee and migrant backgrounds, who are creating new work for #HackneyIsHome. Since October 2020, they've been learning new skills in film and photography, exploring local history, and speaking to elder Hackney residents.


At Autograph, we believe that visual representation is empowering. Working with our staff, the #HackneyIsHome group were given access to – and training on – professional photography equipment to create portraits with personal objects that told a story about their lives. Here's a look at what they created.

A young person wearing a patterned red, yellow and black top looks directly at the camera.
A young person wearing a black jumper looks directly at the camera.
A young person wearing a blue mask looks directly at the camera. He has a red and yellow patterned cloth draped over his shoulder.
A young person holding a white roller blade looks directly at the camera. There is a colourful patterned backdrop behind them.

Throughout the project we set the young people a number of film and photography challenges. The latest one was to create a series of ‘front door portraits’, reflecting on the theme of home. This was a chance for them to test out working with the mobile phone camera tripods we sent them in the post. You can see the results below.



Artworks created by the #HackneyIsHome artists were broadcast six metres high on the Old Street Digital Canvas at Old Street roundabout - one of east London's biggest traffic hubs.

For the Digital Canvas, the group wanted to create messages of hope for our current times. Having themselves recently arrived from countries including Congo, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Madagascar and Spain, the works they produced celebrate Hackney and the many people who proudly call it home.

Read more about the display and see all of the artworks on our blog


We invited the public to join in the #HackneyIsHome campaign, and help show the many perspectives and experiences of home, identity and community life in our diverse borough. Thank you to everyone who submitted their work. From over 100 submissions, a panel including young people from the #HackneyIsHome project selected their favourite images to be featured on Autograph’s website and social media.

See the results on our blog: Hackney Is Home - Your Pictures 


A group of young people creating a film. They are surrounding by film equipment like a camera, microphone and lighting.

The #HackneyIsHome group took part in 11 workshops from October to December 2020, covering topics including photography, film, identity, documentary, community, and activism. To stay Covid-safe, the workshops took place both at Autograph's gallery in Hackney and online.

The sessions have been led by Autograph’s Ali Eisa and Denise Rose from Mouth That Roars, alongside Brian and Djamila – two young people from refugee backgrounds who are gaining professional experience in facilitation. Workshop speakers have included artist Aida Silvestri, socially engaged photographer D.Wiafe, documentary filmmakers Ka-Miller Reid and Sam Leibmann, and Josie Stevens from Hackney Museum. Further inspiration has been provided from Mouth That Roars’ community film collection and Autograph's photography collection, sharing artists like Syd Shelton and Mahtab Hussain.

On the left four young people adjust a camera stand. On the right is two young people holding a microphone designed for film.
A group of four young people and a dog, visiting the Hackney Is Home digital billboard in Shoreditch.
A group of young people doing an online a workshop through Zoom.
Eight people at the Hackney Is Home virtual Christmas celebration done over Zoom. Some participants are wearing red and white Santa hats.


"I’ve learned from the people we interviewed who shared their story, coming to Hackney. Lots of different people have made Hackney."

At the heart of the #HackneyIsHome project is intergenerational dialogue, sharing lived experiences of migration and community. We invited two elders who live in the borough to be interviewed by the #HackneyIsHome group about their lives.

Joe is a member at Headway East London, and shared his story about growing up in Hackney after coming to the UK from the Caribbean. The second interview was with Modinat, who told us her story about moving to Hackney from Nigeria and what she loved about her new home. The group took on all the different professional roles from interviewing to sound, camera and lighting, controlling all aspects of the films they created.

A person wearing a blue dress and headress being interviewed. There is a young man holding a long microphone over their head.
A person sat in front of a video camera being interviewed. A group of people wearing face masks stand on the other side of the camera filming.


In November, artist Aida Silvestri set the group a creative challenge: to create posters for the #HackneyisHome project combining a self-portrait with an important message they wanted to share with people. The images they created are a starting point for how we will make activist artworks with a message for the public #HackneyisHome campaign. See the results below.


The #HackneyIsHome artists have collaborated with Aida Silvestri to contribute to the Coronaquilt Silhouettes Initiative public art project. They created works based on a traditional quilt square pattern called 'Corona', overlaid with a silhouette portrait of themselves a few words describing their mental health state during the pandemic.

The project is run by Art Refuge. Ultimately, all of the public contributions will be combined into a single tapestry artwork. 


The #HackneyIsHome project is led by:

Ali Eisa, Autograph's Learning & Participation Manager. Ali is an artist and educator with passion for doing creative work with young people and getting their voices heard on the big social issues we face.

Ali Eisa Autograph's Learning and Participation Manager, smiles at the camera.

Denise Rose from Mouth That Roars. Denise set up Mouth That Roars 21 years ago with the sole purpose of training young people in film production who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to media resources, enabling people who are often misrepresented to be heard.

Aida Silvestri is a UK based artist. She holds a BA (First Hons) in photography from the University of Westminster, London. She creates work that challenges the status quo of stigma, prejudice, and social injustice/inequality by highlighting issues of migration race, class, identity, and health. Her work explores unique approaches to documentary photography and manipulation of the photographic surface.

A young person looks directly at the camera. They have their arms folded and are wearing a blue face mask.
A young person stands under a pink flowery umbrella. Their gaze is not directed at the camera.


#HackneyIsHome is supported by Hackney Council’s Shoreditch and Hoxton Arts Fund, created from a levy on developers to support arts and culture programmes that bring different communities together.

Also supported by Hackney
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England


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