Last week, while a bit of a snivelling, sneezing mess, I took a long overdue bike ride to the hinterlands of Hackney Wick. I live quite close but it is, I always think, a bit of a faff getting there. It’s not quite walkable (especially with an overly dramatic six-year old with perpetual imaginary leg problems) and it doesn’t make sense to bus it given its close proximity (really) and public transport’s tendency to flirt with, rather than obey, timetables so I am bound to ignore its existence. Until last week, that is.
Myself and the hubby had a free day so armed with our google map app cycled barely 15 minutes along the glorious water scape of the River Lee Navigation to arrive in the splendour of Hackney Wick. And it really does offer a certain splendour amidst its warehouses, studios and wastelands. Obviously, I’ve been before. Lots, in fact. I (sort of) learnt to drive there and became a tad too familiar with the cul-de-sac style streets that afforded folk, like me, a certain driving security. Or maybe that security was more for patiently frustrated instructor?
Anyway, I went last week.
Our primary aim was to visit The Counter Cafe and, goodness, what a cafe. We whiled away the hours drinking flat whites, eating eggs and munching on some exceedingly tasty goodies. However it was Stour Space, “a socially minded organisation offering exhibition, performance and studio space for the development of creative enterprises,” that caught my eye. The cafe is part of the space and adds to the appeal and atmosphere which is set within what was once unsafe and, of course, disused.
When we visited, Ben Hopper was exhibiting with Giving Something Back, a show of all his collaborative work comprising of three main areas, Dancers on Rooftops, The Illustrated and Hackney Wick Portraits. The portraits, which you can see above, sit perfectly amongst the airy charm of the space. And The Illustrated (pictured in exhibition flyer) is , almost, at odds with the space offering a reinterpretation of the “traditional” portrait and toying with ideas of adornment in a slightly subverted context. I loved it. And I loved the Stour Space for what it has done and what it continues to do. I loved the high ceilings, the decor, the pillars and most of all the beautiful cat who believed (quite rightly) that she eclipsed all else.
The exhibition finished on September 30 but the cafe, the space and the brand new show are all worth checking out this weekend. Enjoy!