The George — Creative Community Center in Hackney

Some spaces cre­ate their value through aes­thet­ics and visual present­a­tion, attract­ing a vis­itor with an inter­est­ing interior and posh atmo­sphere. Although, prob­ably every­one would agree that it’s not the only ele­ment, mak­ing us visit and go to some places all the time, meet with your friends and new people, com­mu­nic­ate or engage in some exit­ing activ­ity. I would say that you can very clearly dis­tin­guish formal space from informal. Informal spaces are often the most pleas­ant for young cre­at­ives – here, you don’t have to worry that you are crookedly sit­ting on the ground with crossed legs, that arm­chairs and sofas are very worn and dusty, that every­one is smoking inside or that you will get a sus­pi­cious look, while simply say­ing hi to some­body you don’t know.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of such spaces, they don’t have offi­cial papers or status. Such spaces simply exist because of the help of the enthu­si­asts, who live by what they do and do what they live for. If you were to come up with an idea to open an informal space, prob­ably the best place for that now would be Berlin, where prop­erty prices and the law base let the most unex­pec­ted inclu­sions appear within the city. Meanwhile, London is try­ing hard as well, how­ever, some­times you need to fight here too. This time I present an inter­est­ing cre­at­ive com­munity space in Hackney.

Our visit of The George

The George” once was a pub in Hackney dis­trict, in London. Later this area, even though it’s situ­ated in the second zone, which is very near the city cen­ter, was sort of for­got­ten, aban­doned, sparsely pop­u­lated. Here, vari­ous minor­it­ies began to build up, Victorian houses were finally occu­pied. Because Hackney is in east London, the rent­ing prices are a bit lower here and exactly these prices pushed the youth to begin set­tling here and cre­at­ing the buzz in the sleep­ing streets. These days, it is very lively atmo­sphere in Hackney, around 3 mil­lion people live here, the area has its own news­pa­per, a lot of small busi­ness shops, which delight with their col­or­ful­ness and ori­gin­al­ity. Some people say that a vast major­ity of artists and the under­ground are settled in Hackney. Some time ago it was Shoreditch, which is now richly settled with vari­ous gal­ler­ies, styl­ishly dressed youth, niche cre­at­ive com­mod­it­ies shops and graf­fiti draw­ings notice­able on every step.

The George” was simply ren­ted out by seven friends, who decided to live here. The space itself main­tain the pub, has an old fash­ion bar and sev­eral lamps, how­ever, everything is crumbled down, aban­doned and is pre­cisely in such con­di­tion, which cre­ated a great atmo­sphere to impro­vise and mess around. So, these friends settled in, began to organ­ize parties and spread the word of mouth about it.

Not wor­ry­ing too much about the pub­li­city of their home, the hosts began to organ­ize con­certs, work­shops, gath­er­ings, lec­tures, theater repe­ti­tions, yoga activ­it­ies etc. A lot of people got inter­ested in this space, so all the time one or the other came here with his idea to put some­thing together and to invite local com­munity to take part. On Mondays and Tuesdays the youth from sur­round­ing houses gathered here with a glass of wine and jazz. Sometimes you could get sur­prised by a senior vir­tu­oso unex­pec­tedly play­ing the piano or some extraordin­ary voice tak­ing micro­phone. Everyone in this space posi­tioned them­selves very dynam­ic­ally – some with a blanket on the ground, some beside the little table, some were tramp­ling dance steps besides the scene.

An aban­doned “The George” pub became that space, which in my opin­ion is the most real and lively, unres­tric­ted bydead­lines or open­ing hours – chaotic, dynamic and most import­antly hon­est. Such spaces are highly import­ant for its cre­ativ­ity, warm­ness and liveliness.

However, as I already men­tioned London is not Berlin and that is why sooner or later there had to appear some dif­fi­culties. The main prob­lem sud­denly became the owner of this space, who decided that he will demol­ish this authen­tic pub and make nine flats that will later be ren­ted. Well, all of us know that the Olympics are com­ing, so it is not a big sur­prise. However, it hasn’t happened so yet because local com­munity star­ted col­lab­or­at­ing and col­lect­ing all the pos­sible argu­ments to stop The George from clos­ing. In addi­tion, they launched a peti­tion and star­ted new web­site.

What will hap­pen to “The George” is still not clear, how­ever, it’s cer­tain that we need cre­at­ive spaces like that. Well, lets wish the own­ers good luck and enthu­si­asm to get their ideas going!

Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
About author:
Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
Gintare Zitkeviciute is Art Pit’s thinker and doer. In her work practise, she values lean approach, creativity and quick decisions. She doesn't like working with random people and thinks that a team is a heart of successful project. For that reason, she carefully picks people she works with on everyday basis. She is mostly interested in innovatio... Read further >
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