Now that the gleaming architecture of the London 2012 Olympic park has been firmly imprinted on our minds, the site's past has been all but forgotten. But a group show at London's See Studio is putting it back in the spotlight, looking at the barren Lower Lea Valley before work began on the park and documenting its radical transformation.
Titled ‘Juxtaposition’, the works not only reveal the history of the wider Hackney Wick area, but also considers the effect the Olympics has had on London as a city.
The show combines a selection of photographs, drawings, videos and sculptures by 18 local and international artists, including London-based photographer Alessandra Chilá’s ‘Olympian Visions’, in which she visually captures the area on the brink of change.
Meanwhile, German-born but New York-based Gesche Würfel’s offering is an ongoing series titled ‘Go for Gold’, depicting the economic and urban transformation the Olympics have had on the Lower Lea Valley.
Other works include artist Jim Woodall’s much-publicised footage, for which he took up a two-week residency in a makeshift ‘control room’ complete with CCTV cameras, overlooking the construction of the Olympic Park.
Varied and contrasting, the works offer glimpses of the depleted land the Lower Lea Valley used to be, along with aerial shots by Giles Price, showing the large-scale urban regeneration project it has become. Some are eerie and atmospheric, like David George’s photographs of Hackney Marshes, while others are tinged with nostalgia, such as Jessie Brennan’s 'The Cut': a five-metre-long pencil drawing inspired by local stories and memories from life along the canal.