Home Oral History Interview - Oriana Fox

Oral History Interview - Oriana Fox


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Oral history audio. Interview with Oriana Fox, interviewed by Rosy Rickett.

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Fox, Oriana


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Photograph - copyright Arnau Oriel

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DATE: 06/09/2010

R: Ok this is an interview for Hackney Museum, Mapping the Change project um and it's Monday 6th September and my name is Rosy Rickett and I am interviewing Oriana Fox who is an artist and who lives in Hackney Wick. So just to start off, um, could you tell me your full name and date of birth

O: My full name is Oriana Maria Fox and my date of birth is the 5th of January, 1978.

R: And, where did you grow up?

O: I grew up in Manhattan on the Upper West Side.

R: Very nice. [laughing] When did you move to England?

O: I moved in er, on September 23rd 2000, actually, I'm coming up to my ten year anniversary very soon.

R: Where did you live first of all?

O: I first lived in New Cross because I went to Goldsmith's and I lived in New Cross for two and a half years or two years, and, maybe it was three years actually, three years, and then I moved to Hackney with my boyfriend at the time we moved to London Fields and then we lived there for two years and after a year and a half of living in Hackney, I got my studio in Hackney Wick, in Mother Studios.

RR: And you, and then you moved to Hackney Wick to live.

O: Oh then I [laughs], then I moved to Homerton and I lived in Homerton for almost two years, and then I went and did a residency in Marseille and when I came back I started living in Hackney Wick.

R: So what brought you to find your studio in Hackney Wick in the first place?

O: Um I don't remember it that well, I know I looked around at different places to have a studio um or I emailed different places that had you know studios and Hackney Wick seemed like it was the most affordable and yeah it was available. Yeah I did look around, or what I did for a while was i sub-let other people's studios because I just did- I would just get a studio for a specific project. So I sub-let someone's studio on Morning Lane for like three months at a time a couple of times and then I decided that I wanted to get my own space so I looked into getting a studio here and I remember meeting with Jo Hughes who runs- she's the landlady and...it was yeah and I was really nervous for some reason about not being chosen, I don't know why [laughs] I guess I felt like it was very competitive to get a studio but then in the end it didn't feel that competitive really, I got one and it was affordable- very affordable actually. I think I paid like a hundred pounds a month because I was on the fifth floor where it's like- it's cheaper because- I don't really know why it's cheaper, I think it's to do with the fact that you're right under the roof and it's very cold in the winter.

R: Um

O: Is this too much detail?

R: No no perfect. It's interesting what you said about feeling like it was very competitive because we've heard a lot about the massive demand for studios.

O: It felt like that at the time but now, in retrospect, I think it was really easy then as opposed to now. Because people are constantly buzzing the buzzer and asking 'how do I get a studio here?' or you know it justs seems very much like there's a lot of competition, more competition now than there was then. It seemed, I think that was just a, I don't know insecurity on my part, and nothing to do with the reality of how, whether it was difficult, I don't think it was as difficult. 0.04.31 Oh yeah the other thing I was going to say about the fifth floor is that very studios up there have windows because of the nature of the roof, um, so that's another reason why they're cheaper because you can't because they don't have ventilation.

R: What were impressions of the area when you moved in?

O: The other thing that's great about Mother Studios is that there's the fifth floor and the fact that there's that huge space and at the time it was completely, almost unused. And it was just this huge amount of space, and I remember people coming over to my studio and saying 'how could', 'why does Jo this?', 'she could be making money of this space if she turned it into studios, it's so weird that she keeps it open like this for people to use'. And I saw that as a really big benefit that like, I could just, if I needed a bigger space to do some kind of film shoot or something that I could go there. Even now it's free for anyone to use, I mean you just have to book ahead of time if there's nothing else going on you can use it, I don't think she makes people pay to use it.

R: So it's just a big empty space?

O: It's a gallery now, now it's Elevator Gallery, and that happened literally in 2007, um, Cherie and Simon decided to take it on as their project and all of a sudden there was a huge audience, and I don't whether it was because they're brilliant at marketing or because the area was ripe to have a gallery with events, fun events happening .Now it's yeah.

R: So you'd say, what did the area seem like when you fist moved in?

O: Well it was just really desolate and industrial, I mean, I remember walking around, you know doing the tour with Jo before I moved in, she was pointing out where in the area people had live-work spaces as if to prove to me 'people do actually live around here', even though you would never imagine it because it's just so unimaginable whereas now it's just completely, you know at 5pm the trains are all packed and people are coming out in droves whereas before it was just like empty. I remember a year or a year and a half ago seeing a business man in Hackney Wick and thinking 'shocking'. [laughs] I've never seen a business man in Hackney Wick before, it was weird. Yeah it just seemed like completely empty and just all those car repair places with tonnes of junk parts, like that's what it was. So it was just industrial waste land kind of area.

R: Quite dark.

O: Yeah, I mean it's still dark I think actually people do comment, people when they visit me from home, they always say 'London's so dark' and I think they especially mean Hackney Wick because it isn't well lit- [laughs]- I don't know. Yeah.

R: Um, would you, when you moved in had the Olympic bid already been won, do you know?

O: No it had not been won. Yeah, I remember when they won it because I remember the planes going through the sky.

R: Really?

O: Yeahm they had these like er...

R: The red arrows?

O: Yeah, with the red white and blue colours kind of streaming. I was at work when it happened, I remember, and that was in 2006 I think, it was like a year after...

R: I think it was late 2005.

O: Yeah, i think it was after I moved into the studio, so maybe I moved in in 2004. See that's the thing, it was hard for me to go back to my emails because I have very few emails from 2004 I have a lot more in 2005, so I might have moved in in 2004.

R: [coughs] Sorry. Um so you said now it's a lot busier, in terms of more people want studios and more people are living here-

O: And more people are in the streets and just walking around.

R: Do you think- why do you think that is?

O: Because it's cheap. I just remember I used to be able to afford to live in London Fields you know I lived there with my boyfriend and we each paid £360/month and now that's just, that's just unheard of and that wasn't that long ago, so yeah, I mean that's why I moved to Homerton was because and I still paid more to live in Homerton than I did for London Fields, so it's like you have to keep moving further and further out, if you want to live cheaply, or if you didn't get a raise you know. I think that's the reason I mean, I don't know. I mean I don't think it's like that New York phenomenon of 'where the artists go, everyone else goes', I don't think that's it, I think it's financial.

R: Have you noticed a lot more artists coming in? Or would you just say it was everyone?

O: I think there are more artists in Hackney Wick than other people, than non-artists but I don't know proportionally how many more artists than non-artists I don't know.

R: And um...um what about changes in your everyday life, have there been any physical changes that have really made an impact- watching the stadium, or anything around here that's physically changed-

O: Um well there's that road that's blocked off now, it used to be that, this is really stupid and superficial actually but there used to be a fed-ex on the other side of the canal um overpass, there used to be a fedex so instead of having to go to central London if you desperately needed to send something fed-ex so it got there next day, abroad or whatever, you, I would go to fed-ex there but now because that's road blocked off that fedex is closed and you couldn't get through even if it was open, so that's the one minor way- that's not going to go into the museum is it- [laughs] um you know the other thing is that there are so many more places to eat, yeah so that's good. I mean we've got Counter Cafe on Fish Island and there have been other little cafes that have kind of come and gone, some of them I've never even been to. I know there's a place that delivers food, like homemade food, I've never used it, and Hackney Pearl is really nice. A bit pricey but it's nice. The food is really good, I really like it there.

R: So when was, say when was Hackney Pearl?

O: That's like a a year old or someting, or a year and a half. Yeah that's a very new thing it was very shocking when it came. it was like- very out of place in a way but obviously not really because there's a different crowd in the area I guess.

R: So do you, you live here now, or near, near the Eastway, do you kind of shop round here or do you go-

O: I do shop a little bit at Premier because that's like the only place nearby but mostly shop at Tesco's on the way home from work on Canary Wharf so yeah, or I bike to the Well Street Tesco or something.

R: Yeah because there's not much.

O: There's not a whole lot of selection, if I want Sainsbury's or Marks and Spencer's I have to go to a different neighbourhood.

R: As an artist have you found the area kind of supports your work?

O: Yeah it did because when Elevator Gallery started they asked me to perform or to contribute to their opening exhibition or event, or whatever- um private view thing and because they knew my video work already and I was just starting to do live performance, I'd only done a couple of live performances at that point, so it was really like the third one I'd ever done, and it was to the biggest audience you know to that point because I think they said 500 people came that night or some insane number, I don't know that might be an exaggeration-- room, it's a very big room and it was packed and I wasn't that good at performing or I wasn't that confident as a performer yet so I remember being really nervous and not remembering what I had planned to say. And really stumbling and it taking me a long time to deliver my little speech or whatever, that was part of the performance, it was um, so yeah I mean I was just thinking about it the other way- this is nothing to do with Hackney Wick- I've really developed my confidence as a performer since then, the second- I did another performance at an Elevator Gallery events so, how many have I done? o yeah I did those two and they were pretty pivotal for me in terms of starting to do performance.

R: I suppose you wouldn't have done them if you weren't in this---

O: Yeah I definitely wouldn't have done them if I hadn't been in this stu--because I would never have met Cherie and Simon and they wouldn't have asked me um and so, yeah and I rememver feeling very secure about Elevator as a place I feel comfortable performing and I wasn't sure whether I could, how I would be performing in a different context. Yeah I was nervous about the prospect of different audience, not the one I was used to, er I don't know, or a different context or something, I didn't know how that would work.

R: So do you find that the, that there is an artists' community that--because I was going to ask--

O: I think some of the people in the building don't like me! [laughs] Well I guess that's part of a community though [laughs] you can't get a long with everybody. Um I don't really know why they don't like me [laughs] sorry. Do I feel like there's a community? [pause] Well there's a lot of galleries now, yeah I do feel like there's a community, I do, you know there is that building across the street where people live and work, you know like I see er, Georgina Starr and Paul Noble all the time on their bicycles and it's like 'oh you're friendly loval YBAs!' or something, I don't know, I guess I think of them as YBAs, maybe they're not really officially YBA people, but they sort of are that generation...so yeah I think that's--

RG: Can I ask what does YBA stand for?

O: Young British Artist- they're no longer young [laughs] but they're that kind of phenomenon. Um, yeah, er...

R: So would, were, as far as you know, most of these or some of these galleries only recently kind of popped up?

O: of them yeah, I mean some of them only recently popped up, I don't think there's any that have been here the entire time I've been here. I could be completely misinformed and maybe there was a gallery here from 2005, I don't know. But yeah there's just, and then there's also the Hackney Wicked Festival, which was the third year this year. And I participated each year and this year was really markedly different from the previous ones because there was a real sense of hype in the atmosphere and the day before people were in the streets preparing and there was just you know this sort of buzz- -- which I didn't feel the other years and even though there was a steady stream of people coming to my open studio and it was always a fun event and I enjoyed participating but this year was really different- although, that's when I broke my toe so [laughs] I couldn't participate as well as I would have liked because of that um, yeah.

R: Um, so with the Wicked--

O: And this year the other thing that I noticed- sorry- was that there was actually a person from the local community who was not an artist who came to my studio, and I don't know maybe that was true of other years but I don't think so. And I think mostly it's artists or people who are like kind of bohemian type musicians and like people who are in the area or kind of punky people, I don't know how to describe them- yeah, kind of wandering through, or maybe people's friends or relatives, colleagues- but um last year yeah there was this one guy who, he-- I got into a conversation with him and it turned out he was just a local guy and he'd heard about the festival going on and he decided to check it out, and he was a journalist who writes about financial stuff. So I thought it was pretty exciting that somebody like that decided to go along.

R: Yeah because would you say normally you don't have much- or the artists- don't have much contact with---

O: Normal people?! [laughs] No and professional people like that I don't think they come along to things like this that often.

R: Yeah I remember reading an account of Hackney Wick and they'd interviewed some 'normal people' and they were saying you know 'what? artists there aren't any artists here! Are you having a laugh?'

O: That's shocking. When did they say that?

R: Last year.

O: That's so weird, that's really weird. Yeah I mean I think that there is a big divide between the people who have lived here for years just as residents who have non-creative jobs and didn't move here for that reason- or not necessarily I don't know- I don't want to say they're not creative, I don't know, they might very well be- but you know not kind of Bohemian type people, I think that they don't interact that much with the artists. I get the sense- i don't know how I'm perceived by the guy who works at Premier, like if he thinks of me as somebody that lives in the neighbourhood, because I do live in the neighbourhood, or if he thinks of me as one of the artists or if he even has a sense that there's this art community that just comes to work in studios, I don't know.

R: Um do you think, or did you think that the Olympics, do you see it as a good thing? Or you don't see it as anything? Or you hate it?

O: I don't hate it but I don't see it as a good thing just because of the funding thing and how it's taking money away from the Arts Council- or that's how I perceive it, maybe I'm wrong. I just perceive it as taking away money from things I care more about than sports because I don't care about sports at all-- but that being said I know lots of people do care about sports and I know there's the whole cultural olympiad and I know artists are involved in that, so that's good, I guess I mean I don't- even the artists I know who are commissioned to do Olympic projects, I only know a couple of the things they produced in relation to it but I don't think it was their best work to be honest because it had to relate to the Olympics in some way, which [laughs] to me is not that interesting. But I don't know, I don't know every sing;e project obviously associated with the Olympics so I can't judge. that well.

R: Um, in terms of--

O: I think it would be nice if they ended up making better pavement along the canal because it's annoying biking on there because it's very bumpy and I imagineif there are disabled people who are going to be wheel chairing around, it's not going to be fun because it's very bumpy. [laughs] That's something I hope that would benefit--

R: I was there the other day and it was very bumpy.

O: They could also clean up the canal because it can get really, just see a lot of litter in there.

R: So do you feel like the area is quite neglected then?

O: I don't know, I guess it was, yeah I think it was, but I do hear the, I feel like I hear the rubbish collecting trucks, I want to say garbage trucks-what do you call that in England? I want to say garbage truck--

R: Yeah--

O: That's not right!

R: Rubbish truck.

O: Rubbish truck, I hear them go through, so it's not obviously completely neglected, and I have seen teams of people going around collecting litter and I have seen boats going along the canal so I don't think it's completely neglected. But it's certainly not like the nicer parts of the canal, you know, if you're going down regents canal towards London Fields or Islington you know, those parts are really nice compared to this part.

R: And you were talking about residencies that you'd done- you did one in Marseille...

O: You want me to tell the?

R: Just the contrast between...

O: It was just that I went to Marseille and I really liked it and it was a little bit scary at first because it's a very male dominated city, like there are groups of men hanging out all the time, but you rarely see women and you certainly don't see women walking alone that often, and it just seems dodgy, at first when you're not used to it but I mean I got used to it and I ended up taking my boyfriend at the time to Marseille because I loved it so much and I wanted to visit it after, like two years after I did the residency and he moved to Hackney from Newcastle um to be with me- aaaw that's cute- and he hated Hackney, I mean as a whole, not just Hackney Wick- he still lives in Hackney Wick actually, we've broken up since but he still lives in Hackney Wick- but just because it's cheap and I guess because you know inertia or something but yeah he's always disliked Hackney and I don't really know why- but then we went to Marseille and he hated Marseille too and that made me realise that there's something about these two places that might be connected in terms of why I like them both and I think it must be um, the fact that there both a little bit run-rough around the edges but have these gems that you have to kind of seek out or find and also because they're both such, populated, highly populated with immigrants and that appeals to me, and I don't it appealed to him that's all.

R: So what are the little gems that you like in Hackney Wick.

O: Well Victoria Park is really nice, it's so close. Also that 'Growing Things', I think that's what it's called. It's really cute. I think the Hackney Pearl is becoming that, obviously it's in the name and...I don't know, I have such a nice view, even without the stadium, it was a nice view. If left the studio that's what I would miss is the view.

R: Nice big window as well.

O: Yeah, I don't know what else is a gem because I was sort of talking about Hackney as a whole and not just Hackney Wick, because I love Hackney.

R: Have you got a 'I love Hackney' bag?

O: No I don't, I should get one though.

R: Do you feel, some people who live in Hackney object to the building of new tubes and the extension of--

O: Why would they object to that?!

R: Because I think they want- there was a 'keep Hackney crap' campaign--

O: I can see, OK nevermind, I can totally see why some people feel that way, I mean not that I agree with them, I don't agree with them at all. But I can see why there are people who feel that way. Yeah, I can remember being in a taxi in Shoreditch or something before the East London Line was finished and him saying 'when that's done'- referring to the East London Line- 'when that's done, the East End is gone, the East End is over', so I kind of can understand- I can completely understand that perspective from people who have lived here for ages and don't want it to change. [pause] But also that people really benefit from it being cheap and being like, there being places where you can still get away with squatting, or, whatever, those sorts of people I can imagine them not wanting it to change, not wanting a certain type of person to come in and make it into yuppyville, which is what might happen if there was better transport.

R: Do you think that your rent is going to rocket up? Or that anything's going to change?

O: I don't know I think Jo wrote us an email about how we wouldn't be affected adversley by the Olympics. Um I know a lot of places, there were some studios on Fish Island that didn't that weren't able to continue because of the Olympics or whatever I don#t know exactly the details but I klnow that we were one of the places that we got to stay the same and I think it might be because of the roof actually because apparently the roof of this building, even though it causes everyone to be very cold on the fifth floor, is like some sort of er, significant architectural thing and it's very rare and so it might be a landmark building or something, I don't know, or maybe one day it could be, I don't know.

R: Listed.

O: Listed- I don't know if it actually is listed but I think it aspires to be or something because of this particular type of roof.

R: What about Hackney Wick as a whole, do you see it changing? Or do you worry about it changing at all?

O: I don't worry about it changing, I don't think so. -- I mean it would suck if I couldn't afford a studio here anymore, I mean I have thought about leaving mother because I thought I wanted some place- a bigger space- at one point about six months or a year ago I started looking around to see what else was out there and everything was more expensive and less place and I was shocked by that, like this really was the best value for money. And it was shocking especially because certain places like Sell studios, I know, I feel like they're funded by, I mean they're run by artists and yet they're still just really expensive, I find it shocking.

R: Where's Sell?

O: Just- they have a building right up here, right, Wallace Road, and they also have a studio/gallery on Mare street, near Hackney road, and they get funding I think from the Arts Council to run the gallery.

R: So you think Mother is quite kind of-

O: I think that Jo, I don't think Jo makes that much art anymore, and she was a painter- I don't know maybe she'll be insulted if I say she's not a painter anymore, I don't know how much she paints, but I know that her 'studio', is next door and she's never there. But i think she started the studio with aspirations of making- or she rented out these two floors with some colleague or collaborator who's since left it all to Jo but she started it with the intention of making affordable studios for because she was one herself- is was- and she really remained true to that I think but in the end, totally financially benefited, this is her bread and butter, and I think she's really quite well off I think financially because of it and it's really turned into a job rather than a place to have her own studio.

RG: Can I interrupt, I was wondering do you know how many artists there are who have studios in mother?

O: Well Mother is just the three floors, 3rd, 4th and 5th floor so I think there are 12 studios or something like that on each floor, and most of them have more than one artist although there are, I can think of a few, a handful that have just one artist. And there are people who are not artists who are designer makers, so they make, construct or design or design and construct functional objects like furniture um, leather goods and things like that.

RG: Have you any idea how long people actually stay working?

O: --People stay long long times, I mean long periods of time, I know Rob who we saw leaving the carpark when we came in, he's had a studio for at least 5 years and a woman just recently moved out and she had her's for at least 5 years.

RG: Where do people go after?

O: I don't know where she went, she just literally moved out a month ago or, yeah and i don't know where she went, I think she went out of London. Most people leave because they're going to go do an MA or, um they can't afford it anymore, I don't know, yeah yeah that's usually the reason but the people who actually make money off their work or have a business running out of it, they're here for years and then Jo always has somebody in the big studio on this floor who kind of runs, deals with the rubbish and stuff like that and maintenance stuff and that person tends to stay a long time, because they get, I think they get a cheaper studio and it's a very large studio, I don't think it's that cheap really but it's still better than if you were just not working and paying.

RG: What are the rents then for studio space, are there set rates or do they vary? Are they sliding scale?

O: I pay- this place is like 200 square feet or something, I'm sorry I don't the metric, I'm not good with the metric system but it's like, it's 240/month. And when I was upstairs my studio was slightly bigger in terms of actualy floor space but because the ceiling was the roof it had a slant to it, so it wasn't a high ceiling and there was no window and that was, I split that with someone, it was 200 and something a month, so it was only a hundred for me because I was sharing, so yeah it was really cheap. And yeah and since I moved down here the rent has not gone up at all and I don't know, are you asking more generally like in the whole area or just in this building?

RG: No, no.

O: That's how it is, it's like some amount of money per meter or per square foot.

RG: No it's just to get an idea of- because you were talking about competitively priced your studio was--

O: yeah it's like something this size in Sell studios would be at least £300 or maybe £350, which is really a large amount to pay, especially one which would be freezing in the winter, which those are I think- because they're not sandwiched between floors, that's what keeps the heat in. They're all on the floor or on the first floor, so there's nothing to kind of keep in the warmth.

RG: Are you able to earn a living from your art work?

O: No, no way, [laughs] Um I have a day job, I work for another artist and er, I do other kind of- I actually just got a teaching job at, I'm starting in October at the Cass, which is formerly the Guildhall, now London Met, they want to start calling themselves 'The Cass' so I'm trying to do my job, calling it 'The Cass'. Yeah it's John Cass, the art school, so I'm teaching one day a week and what else do I do for money? Sometimes I film things like wedding videos, or design websites, sometimes I occassionally do a commissioned portrait um but that's really rare, and yeah just do different things.

RG: What are you teaching at the Cass?

O: I'm teaching just third year BA students who are working towards their final project--

RG: In what?

O: In fine art, so it's multi-disciplinary, so they'll be students working in all different media. They picked me because they wanted somebody who did performance because they're looking to get more on their staff who deal with performance. I used to also work in the publishing industry, um art publishings, so I was the publishing coordinator for the Hayward Gallery one year, and I was an editor for Black Dog publishing before that- those were better times. [laughs] Don't quote me- don't say that! Nevermind.

R: Why because it was more stable?

O: Yeah because my art assistant job you know, if she's not feeling up to making art or something happens to her person- personal life, my hours are the first to be cut, so yeah it's just a bit unstable.

RG: So what do you as an art assistant? What sort of things?

O: I actually assist a physically disabled video artist so I mostly do video editing, um with some phy--minor physical assistance, just putting her arms so she can use the computer, or driving her somewhere. Um, assisting her at a meeting yeah, mostly it's video editing or doing subtitles for videos um, because obviously she wants all her videos to be accessible. Or sometimes I do like grant writing or proposals writing.

RR: Where was your last show/exhibition?

O: Well I just did a performance on Friday- my last exhibition, what would that be?

RR: performance?

O: I tend to performances really frequently, like once every two weeks, or once a month at least.

RG: Where do you do them?

O: I, where do I do them? This one on Friday was different- - because I, it was like a party-club thing, which was first time I've ever done that and it was strange, well it was something I've wanted to try because I wanted to see what it was like. But mostly it's in a gallery setting. I did an event at Tate Modern, I've done a performance at Tate Britain, I'm going to be doing a performance workshop with 16-19 year olds at the Hayward Gallery next, in November, so that's exciting and I'm going to be in a show, next month in Barcelona. I'm trying to think- it's mostly like little one off events sometimes that I do that are like performace art events.

RR: What do you do when you perform?

O: Um all different things, it used to be that all my performances involved dancing, like recreating popular dance routines, and then adding some sort of autobiographical element you know like I'd tell a story that somehow related to the dance um or um, I have done a performace where I multi-task, where I exercise and I paint and cook all at the same time, and interact with the artist, all at the same time. And I've done a lot ot reenactments of performance work from the 70s and 80s by feminist performance artists, like seminal works, reenacting them but with a twist.

RG: I was wondering what having the studio means to you then and being here in Hackney Wick with a studio what it means to you?

O: Um it means everything to me! It means a lot to me because um everything I have is here, if I didn't have the studio or I couldn't afford a studio, I don't know what I would do with all my stuff. I'd have to learn to throw things out. And I don't want to do that, that's what it means to me it means not having to learn to throw things out. -- I don't like to get rid of things and also everytime I do a performance now, I rarely have to buy new things, it used to be that I was constantly like evry per--or sometimes even now it's like I have to buy one or two new things- but a lot of the time everything I need is here, so that's really good.

RR: So it's just a very, well not just, but it's like a kind of alladin's cave full of everything that you need for your work--built it up over the years--

O: Yeah--

RR: So I guess that because you've been here a long time.

O: 0. 46.00.0 Yeah and also I did this really ambitious project- a video which was like 20 minutes long which was recreating dance scenes from various different Hollywood movies so I had to buy- I had like 20 volunteers, or you know something between 6 and 20 volunteer dancers for each scene of the film so I had to get costumes for them- sometimes I rented them but most of the time I found places where you could buy clothes in bulk and, or I'd go home, or you know I'd happen to be home and I'd buy them there because it was so much cheaper- and yeah so because of that project I've collected a lot of clothes so I never need any new costumes I tend to have everything I could possibly want. I'm thinking of starting a costume hir business [laughs]

RR: Should. I saw your poster for a Penny--

O: Oh yeah, The Penny Social- that's the one thing I didn't mention when you asked me what kind of performances I do because that's one I do, where I ask people to donate things and then we raffle them off- so that the items get redistrubuted so that everyone gets something that they want and they just got rid of something they didn't want. So that's a fun thing.

RR: So that seems like--

O: And that was also an attempt on my part to get rid of some things because for each of the penny socials I've done, i've bought along a few things in case people come wanting to participate but they didn't bring anything. So in that way I've gotten rid of some things, just a few things at a time.

RR: And that would be with artists from other or just anybody.

O: I tried to do it at mother, that's when i broke my toes, but I had to cancel it because i broke my toes but yeah the other ones were not with- not in Hackney, so it's nothing to do with Hackney in the end.

RR: Where do you spend most of your time outside of work?

O: Outside of being in the studio? At my day job I guess, in Greenwich. Or in new Cross, I still spend some time at Goldsmiths, um where else do I go- I go to Shoreditch a lot, Bethnal Green. Most of my friends live around Hackney or Shoredtich or, I don't go to Dalston that much, I really like Newington green, if I could live anywhere I'd probably live there. Stoke Newigton Church Street, Clissold Park. Those are places I like but I don't spend a huge amount of time in them though.

RR: But do you kind of mostly then not go out in Hackney Wick, is there anything to do after hours sort of thing?

O: I don't go out much in Hackney Wick-- I'm sure there are people who go out in the various galleries, I'm just not one of those people. I used to spend more time than I do now. Yeah I mean if I was going to go out with friends, it would definitely not be, it's rarely in Hackney Wick, it's mostly in Hackney Central or you know around there. I have one friend that has a studio in Hackney Wick and we have been to the Hackney Pearl together but that's really rare, I never hang out in Hackney Wick normally.

RR: [pause]
RG: I was looking out of the window and I can see a building opposite that looks like flats- do you know when that was built? Was that here before you...

O: I really have no idea. Because when I was first here I had no window so I have no awareness, and I'm also really bad because when I walk along the street, I look at the ground, I don't look around that much.

RG: I was just wondering who lives there.

O: I wonder the same thing.

RR: Because they're quite posh looking.

O: yeah they are, they're definitely posher than here.

RG: They look like, well it looks like a private development--

O: I imagine it must be people who work in the City or who work in Canary Wharf because it must be so convenient to go on the DLR to work, that's just my guess, I don't know.

RG: I was just wondering whether, to sort of go back to not so much about the way that you use Hackney Wick but can you describe hackney Wick so if there was anyone listening now, your impressions of Hackney Wick and the buildings and the place, looking back to when you first came here to now.

O: --There definitely are new buildings, there's that whole new residential kind of complex of new buildings right next to Premier, that's new that's like in the last couple of years that wasn't there. And also there's um there are kind of, I don't know how to describe them, these very short, not short, they're bungalows with these really high walls surrounding them, like basically the look like they could only be one room or two room bugalows, and they're for travellers, the park, they have their camper vans parked next to the little bungalows and I know that those were built because when they made the Olympic site they relocated all those people and they relocated them here or at least a few to that one that's just down the road, right next to the train station. Um there are these high walls, like I was describing, that's relatively new. Occasionally like- lots of things have been torn down, like little industrial buildings, have been torn down and there's just sort of vacant lots now, and I'm not sure what they were before but sometimes travellers park in there, I'm not sure if that's because they've been told to, or they just have taken up upon themselves or something I don't know um [pause] -- and then I know that, yeah, I don't know if I'm doing a good job of describing--

RG: It was just to get your impressions really...

O: And like I said, a couple years ago or five years ago or three years ago even if you were walking around during the day or at night it would be, the streets would just be empty, and now that's really rarely the case that the streets are really empty, there's always one or two people and then at rush hour there's lots of people, and different types of people, it used to be just people who worked in these industrial places that you would see or like people who work on cars or whatever, or maybe some-- and there's more and more builders, obviously building the new things that are, you know the new buildings um, and there's like a new kebab shop- as if we needed another and yeah- they have pizza there too, which is good because the other kebab shop didn't have pizza, I will say that for it, and there's a new little um, like off-license, right outside the station because before, Premier was the only place, you had to walk to eastway to the Costcutter thing, I don't know if it's a Costcutter or not, I can't remember what it is, but um and so yeah so now we have that little one as well, that's new. Which is good because it's a little bit closer, if you have to carry something heavy.

RR: Or if you have crutches.

O: If you have crutches or if you need a pint of milk, it's convenient.

RG: I think we've probably covered everything that-
RR: Yeah

O: remember actually this is a funny thing, I remember when I was looking for a place to live, at one point, really not wanting to live in Hackney Wick when I went to look at the places, that were- because there were like some live-work spaces- I can't remember when this was o why I was moving or why I was looking for places, I think maybe when i was leaving Homerton or when I was coming back from Marseille or something, I can't remember when, maybe it was even before that, before I moved to Homerton, and there were just these live-work places like in um I'm thinking specifically of, what's that studio building- the one with the Hackney Wick sign on it- do you know what I'm talking about?

RR: I know the one maybe on Fish Island.

O: It's right next to Premier, literally the same building that Premier is in, it starts with an O. Basically the people who moved in there built up the spaces from the inside and then they divided them up into smaller, into live-work spaces that they shared. And now it seems like a perfectly nice place to live, I guess it wa just I didn't want to live with strangers who had already kind of establshed themselves in this space and I had to adapt to them, as opposed to getting somewhere that's mine and then picking people to live with.

RR: Do you know with those conversions- that they're kind of slightly illegal and they've been kind of turned a blind eye on.

O: --There's where my boyfriend who hates Marseille and doesn't like hackney Wick lives, um it's like he has a space a bit bigger, it's bigger than this space and it has a mezzanine that's been built in, and down the hall there's a shared shower, and i don't know whether it's legal or not, it's really nice the space and it's good value for money. But it's so grubby, compared to Mother it's so filthy and I don't understand why the people who live there don't just hire cleaners to come and clean the entrance because it would be so much nicer if they just put a little bit of money, each of them , it's just disgusting, it's really gross. And it's similar to this place that starts with an O that I can't think of the name of. The building that the Hackney Pearl is in, it's kind of that whole block, those are much nicer built spaces and it's clean, it's kept nicely.

RR: The reason that I asked, well i just heard that some of the bigger spaces were cheap rent because people kind of, ten people joined together and converted them on their own and it wasn't--

O: Yeah- but they probably had to put a huge amount of money into it so I don't know how cheap it was, not necessarily money but time--

RR: I've always been very impressed by what they've done. There was also a kind of- I've talked to people who were worried that that kind of practice was going to be made a bit more formal and stopped.

O: Yeah that is a worry for those people, I would be worried if I was them. But I don't think there's any risk of that happening anytime too soon, it certainly doesn't seem like there is.

RR:Your time frame is quite small though- I mean because five years seems like a very long time to you, whereas for Jo or for a more longer term resident, five years is more like a blink of an eye-

O: Yeah

RR: I suppose because a lot of your jobs are short term

O: Unfortunately.

RR: So it's more of a kind of a day to day--

O: Jo would really be the person to talk to.

RR: Yes we have. Something that came across from her interview is that she had a lot more worries, or thinking about the future when she envisaged change, she hoped the artists would stay but she imagined it becoming more commercial usage, more flats and she envisaged by the end of her lease mother studios becoming flats.

O: On the second floor of this building there are some really posh offices and they've put in a kitchen they've put in an open planny-living roomy area and that could so easily be turned into a flat, it's practically there already...in a way that's really sad to think it's not that long that that might happen but on the other hand it's like- I hope I don't work in Hackney Wick forever, [laughs] live and work in hackney Wick- the idea of this being it, I don't really want that anyway, even though I really appreciate that now and it's great I really aspire to something better.

RR: where would your dream space be?

O: I would rather have a live-work space that was a lot more spacious. In a way if this was turned into a flat, I'd probably want to live here...yeah, depending on the price but I'd prefer to probably live in Stoke Newington as I said earlier just beacause there's more amenities and things and restaurants and things to be social. although that might change here too, although I think it would take a long time.

RR: Yes because in Stoke Newington it's always been like that.

O: Yes and the way Broadway Market has changed is a bit repugnant to me, it's too much, I wouldn't want to live there either.

RG: How has Broadway market changed? I don't know Broadway Market.

O: It used to be you know, it used to be more working class, I mean it used to- I remember that there were people protesting that they were going to- that they had a business there for years and years and then suddenly had to close because the rents were going up- and now it's like one shi-shi thing after another- how many art book stores can be on one street? I remember it was really exciting when the first bookstore showed up- how convenient, how exciting, and now there are three? Where's is the money for this coming from? I mean I could never afford to shop on Broadway Market, it was like £5 for a punnet of tomatoes, or something, cherry tomatoes- £5 for a punnet, how can you? Who? It's like yummy mummies.

RR: Lots of hybrid kind of shop/cafe/organic/deli.

O: Yeah I mean I'll go there when my parents come to visit or with friends. I mean I know a person who's like 26 or 27 and he's a photographer and he lives in this one bedroom studio and he really is so cool, and he's so wrapped in his coolness or living on Broadway market and he goes out all the time, and it's such a place for that age group to go out and drink and socialise and I don't know.

RG: Do you know how he can afford it?

O: He's a photographer and he's successful, he's a very good photographer and yeah that's how he affords it. But it's a tiny little, it's literally the size of this room, and a bathroom and a little kitchen and a wardrobe space, which he needs because he has a lot of clothes, like I said he's very cool. I couldn't fit my stuff in there, I couldn't afford it either.

RG: Is there anything else that you'd like to ask? Or otherwise Oriana, is there anything else you can think of to say about Hackney Wick and your experiences here?

O: No I can't think of anything, I feel like I've said mostly everything. Um I'm kind of curious to know, what that woman who's liv--in her eighties, who's lived here forever, I'm kind of curious to know what she says because like you said I'm describing it as like 'these huge changes in the past five years', well I guess I'll have to come to the exhibition don't I, to see! Because it's really interesting.

RR: It;s been quite tumultuous in a way because every 20 years there have been massive changes- terraces pulled down, big high rises put up, migrants moved in, the high rises were pulled down, things like the Trowbridge estate were put up- so for someone who's been moving from one kind-being moved by the council from one place to another-

O: Then the other thing that's going to be happening is MUF architecture has all these projects and things for the Olympics, it sounds intriguing, I know someonwho works for MUF architecture actually who's like running the project and she asked me if I wanted to apply but really I don't do that kind of social- I don't feel I do art that's very community based or whatever and I also don't make kind of physical things I don't know so I felt like I couldn't contribute which is a shame because in a way I would have liked to- so that will be interesting to see what happens with that-- but I can imagine it might be terrible, I don't know.

RR: I've read about it- they are redesigning an area?

O: I'm not quite sure what it is- I read a brief when I was thinking of applying but it was like they wanted artists to engage with the history of Hackney Wick or to engage with the landscape or different, not landscapes- panoramas- perspectives that you have in Hackney Wick- or to creat site specific art that would enhance the area for when the Olympics happens, or even sign posting places so that people could find their way so it sounds interesting but you sort of wonder what's going to happen after the Olympics happens, whether they'll be maintained or just turn into weird relics yeah because you hear about that all the time, about the Olympics going to places and the cities having these huge hopes that it will regenerate an area and then it just kind of completely dies because no one comes to them afterward the Olympics. I don't think that will happen with Hackney Wick though, I don't know.