Iain Sinclair and Tom Hunter honoured by the University of East London

Two influential creative figures from Hackney have been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Arts by the University of East London.

Writer Iain Sinclair and photographer Tom Hunter were recognised at a graduation ceremony at east London’s O2 arena last Tuesday.

“It feels great to have been selected for this honorary award and to now have this connection with the University of East London,” said Sinclair, filmmaker and author of titles including Downriver, Hackney That Red-Rose Empire and Ghost Milk.

“Having lived in Hackney for more than 40 years, it’s been fascinating to see how the Docklands area has developed and the way UEL has become a big part of that.

“I’ve really enjoyed today and the pageantry aspect of the ceremony is certainly entertaining and interesting.”

Hunter, whose photos are always based in Hackney and who became the first photographer ever to have an exhibition in the National Gallery in 2006, said he “never in his wildest dreams” imagined he would receive a doctorate.

“I left school at 15 with one GCSE and never thought I would be standing there in my floppy hat in front of people who’ve spent the last few years working really hard to get their Masters, Bachelors and PhDs - to share that with them was a great feeling,” he said.

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“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and you don’t know if anyone is watching, you get little bits of praise. But to be recognised by a university makes it official.”