Hackney Wick artist evicted from underneath A12 flyover

Workers dismantling the workshop. Picture: Monika Kuszewska

Workers dismantling the workshop. Picture: Monika Kuszewska - Credit: Archant

An artist, who had setup an open-air gallery and workshop under the A12 overpass in Hackney Wick was finally evicted yesterday after a long-running standoff with the authorities.

An example of the art under the bridge. Picture: Cathryn Miles Griffiths

An example of the art under the bridge. Picture: Cathryn Miles Griffiths - Credit: Archant

Jay Filipowicz, a sculptor and painter, had been using the space for more than two years.

The workshop, positioned where the A12 passes over the River Lea Navigation, was used by four other local artists. Boat owners also use the space to paint their boats as the road provides shelter from the elements.

Responsibility for the area Jay used is split between three authorities. Canal and River Trust (CRT) are responsible for the canal and towpath, Transport for London (TfL) for the flyover and the space directly underneath it, and Hackney Council for the grass verges.

CRT has suspended mooring along this stretch of canal to allow access of a rubbish barge, to help clear the space.

Cathryn, who lives in nearby Fish Island, told the Gazette: “Before it was covered in rubbish and needles. People used to avoid it if they could. Jay has made it a safe space for everyone.”

Jay works with materials that he finds dumped in the canals, Wick Woodland or streets of Hackney Wick.

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He told the Gazette: “None of the authorities were taking responsibility for it. It was filthy, full of bottles.

“It’s now a public space. A very public space. Anyone can come here to shelter, to relax. People respect what I’m doing. I haven’t had one person complaining to me. They realise what we’re doing with this space, we’re making something of it.”

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “As a result of complaints from local people, we are working with TfL and the Canal and River Trust to make sure the area beneath the A12 flyover is safe for everyone to use.

“Our enforcement team have discussed these issues with those using the space underneath the A12 and explained why they are dangerous, however this has not resulted in any change. As such, we will be working today with TfL and the Canal and River Trust to make the area safe.

“While we have a duty to work with other agencies to make the space under the A12 is used in a way that is safe for other towpath users, we would be happy to meet those who use the area underneath the flyover to discuss how we can assist in finding them other suitable space in the area. ”

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