Artist’s invitation to watch dawn chorus over Hackney

Early birds and night owls are invited to gather on the top of Hackney’s oldest building at a time when few people are about to watch the sun rise over East London.

Artist Natasha Vicars has put invites and miniature watercolours to the event in shop windows around Hackney and is encouraging people to get up very early and enjoy the dawn chorus on Saturday May 21 as the sky changes colour.

She said: “We will gather for a 3am start, on the rooftop of Hackney’s oldest building St Augustine’s Tower which gives a stunning, panoramic view of the city.”

The Grade 1 listed sixteenth century tower is all that remains of the church which replaced the earlier medieval church which was once a base for the ancient order of Knights Templar.

It has a narrow winding staircase and a working clock which also dates from the sixteenth century.

Ms Vicars described her enthusiasm for the early morning project. She said: “I am interested in the early hours of the day as a time when an individual has a different sense of inhabiting the city he/she lives in – with fewer people around maybe having more sense of freedom or even ownership of the space. I also make a link to Romantic art and see dawn as a time when a person can strongly experience a sense of wonder at nature within an urban environment.”

And she said the idea came to her when she was at a beach at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil one evening and noticed spontaneous applause rippling down the beach.

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She recalled: “I assumed that some performance must have just finished, but I couldn’t make anything out in particular. The applause was spreading up the beach, it was busy with people, and as the clapping (as well as loud whistling and cheers) started happening closer to me I realised that everyone was turning to the horizon and applauding the sunset.

“It was a truly spectacular sunset, framed by the striking ‘sugar loaf’ peaks around the bay, but I was struck by this act as a group response… not a quiet romantic contemplation as a couple, but an instinct to acknowledge the moment by joining as a group.”

She is hoping that the effort of getting up early will also pay off for people who join her in Hackney.

Contact by Monday May 16 if you’d like to attend.