28 Jul 2012

Alternative Olympics: the artist

In a three-part series Channel 4 News speaks to the “alternative Olympians” living and working in Hackney Wick; beginning with artist and sculptor Annie Attridge.

The sound of an artist at work fills the Hackney Wick studio of Annie Attridge. She is sanding a sculpture in preparation for a solo show in New York this autumn.

But the noise is interrupted by the distant hum of a hovering helicopter.

From the roof of Attridge’s east London studio the distinctive Olympic venues can be clearly seen, from the Aquatics Centre to the Olympic Stadium and Anish Kapoor’s dizzying Orbit tower.

“The sound of the Olympic stadium will be buzzing through my window,” Attridge told Channel 4 News.

“I’ve heard them testing the audio and it’s really loud – it’s a bit like the Roman times, the coliseum … the roaring and cheering in the background. And I’ll be here, working away! It doesn’t bother me.”

An anti-Olympic poster from Hackney Wick.


While Attridge predicts the Olympics will be “an interesting experience” not everyone in this quirky corner of east London agrees.

Fellow artists were forced to leave their studios when buildings were knocked down to make way for the Olympic park.

“There has been animosity in terms of the influx of people into this area. There’s going to be trouble getting into your buildings and thousands of people walking down the road,” Attridge said.

“Quite a lot of people are going away and getting out.”

Attridge has been collecting fliers and posters from around Hackney Wick, since it was announced in 2005 that London would be hosting the 2012 Olympics.

“I started taking down posters – I was keeping a sense of my being here for eight years.

“I’ve built up a collection of posters – of happenings and more political ones about the gentrification of this area – documenting what has happened in this area.

“It’s my archive of Hackney Wick.”

A sculpture of (athlete) Caster Semenya.

Olympic influence

Attridge admits that, subconsciously, the Olympics have made an appearance in her work.

“Living on a building site you walk past lots of scaffolding and as an artist you start looking at the shapes, the mathematical structures,” she said.

“Recently it has entered my work. I made a sculpture of (athlete) Caster Semenya and then I stuck the Olympic stadium on her back. I started looking at the triangles in the stadium… it has crept into my work.

“Wherever you are inspires your work.”

Annie Attridge‘s second solo show opens at Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, in October.