Photographer Jenny Lewis: Artists ‘are being forced out of Hackney by rent hikes and studio demolition’

PUBLISHED: 17:52 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:42 31 March 2017

Jenny Lewis' photo of Kevin Francis in his studio

Jenny Lewis' photo of Kevin Francis in his studio

Jenny Lewis

A third of the Hackney artists depicted in Jenny Lewis’ photo book have been forced out of the borough in the four years since she starting snapping them.

Jenny Lewis' photo of Fiona Banner in her studioJenny Lewis' photo of Fiona Banner in her studio

Steep rent increases and property demolition mean many of the 100 painters, illustrators, film makers, jewellers, ceramicists, fashion designers and other “creatives” depicted in Hackney Studios no longer work here.

Lewis, whose book is out on Thursday through Hoxton Mini Press, hopes it will stand as a reminder and celebration of Hackney’s spirit of creativity.

She started taking the photos while working on her first book One Day Young, a set of pictures of day-old babies. She told the Gazette: “I thought if I can get into people’s houses at this intimate personal time, I can get into people’s studios.

“I wanted to investigate workspaces, and see what was going on behind all those doors and alleyways I was cycling past every day.”

Jenny Lewis' photo of Rosy Nicholas in her studioJenny Lewis' photo of Rosy Nicholas in her studio

Jenny’s own studio is in Vyner Street. She lives in Queensbridge Road, Haggerston.

Her idea was to capture “authentic” portraits.

“When you photo a creative in their space all their ideas and thought processes are around the room,” she added. ”It’s like a feeder and introduction to their work.

“It’s exciting to meet people who are living like that – the real drive and passion of people working away on their own in their own spaces, not necessarily for monetary gain, but they have this vision and they are following it. They can’t not follow it. They aren’t doing it for commercial success or for an audience – it’s about their need to produce it. Seeing that level of integrity is really inspiring.

Jenny LewisJenny Lewis

“As much as it being a celebration of these artists, it’s a historical document of what Hackney is like now and how it is rapidly changing – to notice them before they disappear.”

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