In The Shadow of The Olympics

‘In The Shadow of The Olympics’ is a radio documentary that contemplates the current and gradual gentrification of the unique area that is Hackney Wick.

At the eve of Hackney Wicked Festival 2011, I spent several weeks photographing a place that I love that is changing in an attempt to encapsulate the stage of it’s history that I have been involved with. I interviewed generations of artist and business residents about their thoughts of an area they had either themselves helped to re develop or had chosen to live and work. My conversations with the programme contributors questioned the future of a place that was initially known for it’s geographic isolation and poverty. Progressing, historically The Wick became a highly successful area of industry, before strength was drained as economic changes forced highly prolific factories into closure. Empty factories became an opportunity for occupation by artists out of necessity rather than design, and now The Wick’s latest incarnation has seen an influx of creative people move there to become part of a regenerated scene. In turn rent has dramatically risen and property developers have followed closely behind.

Hackney Wick is a fascinating story that gained an even stranger chapter with the arrival of the Olympic Village on it’s doorstep, a major part of which is it’s huge, callous shopping complex. Having the romantic attachment I feel for an area that suddenly seemed under threat, I asked the program contributors for predictions of the future of the area, then of London itself, and even of what it is to be an artist. Has the role of an artist itself gentrified within the consumerist age?

‘In The Shadow of The Olympics’ includes interviews with topographers Nick Papadimitriou and John Rogers and the author Iain Sinclair




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Olympics Legacy Debate with China Mieville and Laura Oldfield Ford

Saturday 2 June

Stoke Newington Festival  Abney Public Hall

Olympics Legacy Debate with China Mieville and Laura Oldfield Ford

With the London 2012 Olympics just a few weeks away, debate about its legacy has never been so intense. We’ve brought together Iain Sinclair, whose Ghost Milk explores the subject in depth; multi-award winning sci-fi writer China Miéville and Savage Messiah Laura Oldfield Ford, whose perspectives on the city bring fresh insight. Hosted by writer and environmentalist Ken Worpole.

Part of the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

Olympics ruined London wasteland – writer Iain Sinclair on BBC, Daily politics, 22/02/2012

The writer Iain Sinclair who has spent decades documenting London tells the Daily Politics why he thinks the Olympic development in east London has ruined one of the capital’s most magical wildernesses.”

“Mr Sinclair debated his ideas on Wednesday’s Daily Politics (*) with Conservative MP Nick Herbert and Labour MP Caroline Flint. The programme can be seen for seven days (UK viewers only) on iPlayer.” (**)  (****)

(*) 22/02/2012

(**) Iain’s section starts at 01:21:12

(****) unfortunately this content may not  be available outside the UK


I just found out that the video is still available on the BBC website and I am watching it right now from outside the UK.

Iain Sinclair: ‘The Olympics have destroyed my patch of London’, interview on The Independent

In his latest book, Iain Sinclair takes aim at the 2012 Games – and the ‘destruction’ of his patch of London.

Interview by John Walsh


Swandown in Hackney on 5/10/2014


I am introducing a screening of ‘Swandown‘ for Gareth Evans, in the Hackney ‘Hole’, on Sunday 5th October at 4.30. 

More details available here:

Swandown (12A)

Directed by Andrew Kotting with Iain Sinclair
2012, 94 mins

5 October 2014

Introduced by Iain Sinclair
In association with Gareth Evans
Many thanks to Andrew Kotting

“This documentary by quirky British film-maker Andrew Kötting and the eccentrically brilliant urban historian and social geographer Iain Sinclair traces a journey they made recently by sea, river and canal from Hastings on the Sussex coast to the site of the 2012 Olympics. Their vessel was a pedalo in the shape of a swan, Kötting wore a dark three-piece suit and Sinclair jeans and a battered baseball cap, and the aim was to draw attention to the antisocial, hubristic stupidity of the Games and their chosen location. Along the way the pair comment on the surrounding countryside and its history, using old newsreel film and quoting from Edward Lear, Conrad, James, Eliot, Edmund Spenser, Edith Sitwell, Pound, Brecht and Werner Herzog, and occasionally they let others do some pedalling.

Like a cross between Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat and WG Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, this is a constantly beguiling movie with an underlying touch of bitterness, especially towards the end. The best line comes from the author of graphic novels Alan Moore, who takes over briefly at the pedals and remarks of Sinclair: “He doesn’t think that anything should happen in Hackney without his permission.”

– Philip French, from The Observer

Dawn til Dusk: A Swan Song. Freya Gabie
Sunday 28th September, dawn until dusk plus viewing from the tower of St John at Hackney Church, 2-4.30pm

The Swan Song is an expression born from an ancient belief that the swan, a silent creature throughout life: emits a beautiful, haunting song only once, at the point of death. An articulation of loss, transcendence, beauty, entropy: it encapsulates a moment of both rupture and rapture. It is the boundary point between two states: the edge. In ‘Dawn til Dusk: A Swan Song’, artist Freya Gabie will give the ancient condemned site of St John’s Rectory Garden its own Swan Song, attempting to give the landscape a voice at the moment of its death.