The London Borough of Hackney has a rich history; from its beginnings as Roman farmlands, Hackney has moved and changed with the times, providing a home to a wealth of different communities, including members of the Windrush generation as well as the Hasidic Jewish community of Stamford Hill in the north of the borough.
Autograph is proud to be based in Hackney and as part of the #HackneyIsHome project, we invited the public to join us in celebrating the many perspectives and experiences of home, identity and community life in our diverse borough. And the response has been amazing.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to share your images and stories with us. Below we share 29 photographs selected from over 100 submissions – along with commentary from the photographers. We hope you enjoy looking through them as much as we have.
"Ann goes to church every Sunday. She has lived in the same house for over fifty years. She cooks traditional Caribbean cuisine, and hardly goes out to dine. She loves to garden and she has amazing green fingers, she has planted camelia, potatoes, runner beans and more. She lives with her grandchildren. Ann is over eighty. This portrait is based on Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, often titled 'Whistler's Mother', by James McNeill Whistler."
“We all met at the Meadows in the Mountains festival in Bulgaria. As we’ve been padlocked out of festivals this year, we took this opportunity to wear funky, festival clothes.”
Objects that have sustained us:
Harriet: plant and tools
Elektra: wooden spoon
Karim: coconut sugar
“We’ve had ups and downs about being cooped up together – but we’ve bonded and formed deeper relationships.”
"This portrait was taken for my new series One Hundred Years which links to my series One Day Young. One Day Young consists of 150 portraits, taken over five years. The women are intimately captured back in their own homes, within 24 hours of the birth, challenging the usual sterile hospital images that inform our collective image of this moment."
"These women exude strength, identity intact rather than the anonymous mother stripped of self. Instead of fear we are presented with triumph. This intimacy and transparency is a defiant statement of activism."
“Lockdown has given us time to slow down although we all hope we can soon beat the virus and get on with our lives.”
Objects that have sustained us:
M: “Lockdown” poster
A and S: bikes
Their mother: Qur’an
"L has used the computer for home-schooling. M has taught herself calligraphy and the boys love cycling around the estate. The Qur’an has been important to their mother. She found Ramadan easier during lockdown as it gave more time for reflection.”
“I love just walking the Ridley Road area, especially in the summer. There is a real sense of community here, and I find the characters, music, smells and the bustle of the market and shopping village completely intoxicating. I hope it never changes. London needs Dalston Kingsland to stay exactly as it is.”
“The photograph, taken outside a pub that was about to change hands, is part of a larger project about conviviality, community and gentrification in Hackney…Local regulars who were priced out of the neighbourhood and had to find somewhere else to live still felt a sense of attachment to the pub. They moved out physically but not emotionally. At weekends, they would be there. The two friends in this photograph are neighbours.”
"I came to England as an asylum seeker but I have my citizenship now. I feel at home in London because I have my little family here, I’m more comfortable here."
"I like lots of things about Hackney – the activities for children, the things to do – the market. It’s a very cheap place to live as well, everything I need I can find near to my place – Hackney style. Hackney is a good area with a big mix of nationalities, especially here in the market – there’s Pakistani bread, Afghan carpets, everything."
"I met Negist when she had a stall in Ridley Road but unfortunately the market wasn’t ready for Negist and her wonderful food so she gave up her pitch."
"This is a portrait of my friend Reuben sitting on his canal boat watching some fellow boat dwellers enjoy the canal. Usually folks with a ‘cruising’ license must move their boat every 2 weeks but due to the lockdown he was able to stay moored in his favourite spot right by Broadway Market / London Fields for at least 6 months in 2020. Sitting on his rooftop was a real refuge for me last year."
"This photo of Barry is selected from a wider series of portraits taken at my local tennis courts. Here I have met people from all different backgrounds and found the eclectic group perfect subjects for photographing. Some of the players I met had been coming to those courts for over 20 years and they had formed a large welcoming community.”
"This image is from my Barbershop series. Living in Hackney at the time, I was drawn to the proliferation, variety and character of the independent barbershops on and around Stoke Newington High Street. The barbershop, each distinct in character and clientele, was an expression of identity and achievement, a focal point for community, and a chance to take time out. Many were owned by those that had come to the UK from Turkey and made it their home. I spent time in two barbershops and photographed the owners, barbers (sometimes one and the same), customers, visitors and environment."
“We've known each other for two decades. I met Solomon in New York, when I studied film at NYU. He now lives with his daughter in San Francisco and I’ve moved to London to work as an artist. Whenever we visit, we take a posed picture for “the collection”. One day this will become an exhibition about the terribly long, cross-continental friendship of two old, gay men.”
"Hackney is where I call home. I grew up on a council estate similar to the one in the photo, next door to a Jamaican family but across the block was a Ghanaian family and a few doors down, a Bengali family and a Vietnamese family. That is the kind of vibe you get in Hackney, a melting pot of various cultures. The characters you find walking down the street and the various cultures in the area are some of the best things about the London borough."
"The British are obsessed with warm weather. The first sign of sunny weather and beer gardens fill up, BBQs come out, shorts on, shirts off, and sunscreen caked on. But with pubs, gyms and just about everything in-between shut during the first national lockdown, Londoners became restless. Although the UK was under strict stay-at-home orders, as the weeks drew on and temperatures soared, Londoners flocked to green spaces and riverside locations to enjoy the perfect weather. Lockdown in London was arguably unlike anywhere else."
#HackneyIsHome was a project exploring experiences of home and migration in the London Borough of HackneyFind out what we achieved
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Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list