Thursday, August 22, 2013

For the last few months, while the weather has been hot, I have been cycling and jogging along the River Lea, starting off from Springfield Park and navigating through there through Walthamstow Marshes, though the Lee Valley, through Hackney Marshes, and all the way to Hackney Wick. Sometimes I’ll even go the other way, down to Tottenham Marshes and Tottenham Hale. All these ‘marshes’ were drained a while ago, so they’re actually more like fields, providing a much-needed source of calm and green in the area. It’s made me become more interested in just how much London is intersected with canals and rivers (other than the main one, of course – the Thames), and how it’s affected the topography of London.

The River Lea has always been there, a constant feature of my life growing up in this area of London. Its name possibly comes from the old Celtic word for ‘bright’, ‘lug’, though there are other, competing claims. When England was ruled under Danelaw, sometime in the 800-900s, it was used as part of the Danelaw boundary. Meanwhile, cities and areas of London owe their etymology to the river: think of Leagrave, Luton, Leyton, and Leamouth, all variants of Old Anglo-Saxon signifiers of an area near the river Lea.
It begins all the way from the Chiltern Hills and winds its way through Hertfordshire and its various towns, before entering London via Enfield Lock (again a reference to the river), just beyond Waltham Abbey. From there it navigates through all the places familiar to me: Edmonton, Chingford, Tottenham, Walthamstow, Upper Clapton (right near Stamford Hill), Leyton…and Hackney Wick, which is where I’ll usually finish. Along the way, I pass pubs overlooking the river and hundreds of moored barges, many with people living in them; some sell drinks, some are full of people playing music; some even sell books.
But the Lea carries on beyond the Wick, winding right around the Olympics site in Stratford and through Fish Island, Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar, Canning Town, and Leamouth. There, its work done, the river terminates at Bow Creek, running eventually into the Thames. One day, I’ll attempt to cycle the full distance.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Some non-Arbeit Gallery posts will be coming up soon, but for now, this is what we're doing this weekend as part of the annual Hackney WickED festival, which takes place in the Hackney Wick area and involves lots of arty shenanigans (though it wasn't on last year due to the Olympics nearby), with many galleries hosting private views and other events and workshops taking place. Here's some stuff about our contribution to the festival, with a PR release below.

We are extremely excited to announce that, for the first time, Arbeit Gallery will be participating in the annual Hackney WickED festival, taking place from 16 to 18 of August 2013. On 16 August at 6pm, we are proud to present Formed View, a multi-media performance piece by the artist Christopher Matthews. Formed View investigates politics of perception of the moving figure through different kinds of improvisation. It is a collaborative research piece in which the body operates as a performance site and an object of observation, a piece “looking into how the body gives us signs that we both can and cannot read, how the moving body can operate in registers defying expectations”, as the artist himself puts it.
The installation involves Lyle Wheeler, a contemporary dancer, improvising with the support of movement practitioner James Haswell D’Arcy, whilst artist Sally McKay and writers Alexandrina Hemsley, Jamila Johnson-Small and Charlotte Ashwell of BELLYFLOP Magazine make responses. Their responses will be fed to television screens so that spectators outside of the space but within the gallery can witness the research process. In doing so, Matthews hopes that fundamental questions will be asked: “What is the role of the dancer as he/she is being watched?", "What is the role that the physical appearance of the dancer plays in the situation?”, “What role does the mode of presentation play in the perception of the moving figure?”, “How does improvisation affect or not the relation between the performer and the spectator?”
Formed View will be streamed live on the Hackney Live website, the digital pilot platform initiated and funded by Hackney Council.

We invite everybody to watch the performance inside Arbeit Gallery via the TVs and/or participate remotely through the Hackney Live website. Christopher will answer questions and comments on through the social media platform during the performance. To be part of the streamed event follow us on Twitter - @hackneylive #hackneylive and like us on Facebook - fb/hackneylive.

Christopher Matthews (b. 1980, USA) lives and works in Hackney, London. Currently, he is a CreativeWorks London Entrepreneur in Residence with Roehampton University where he will be devising courses on themes around the artist as a nomad. Christopher was an Emerging dance artist in residence at the Southbank Centre in 2011 and that same year was awarded a Wild Card residency in Croatia by Jardin D’Europe. He was a resident performer with the Hayward Gallery exhibition and tour of Move: Art and Dance from the 60’s and British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet. In 2012, he was a core performer for Tino Seghal’s These Associations at Tate Modern.

BELLYFLOP Magazine is an East London based artist led online magazine. 

Friday 6-9pm
16th August 2013
Arbeit Gallery
Unit 4, White Post Lane, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, London
E9 5EN