The complex relationships people have with the spaces their inhabit are part of my personal journey. On the one hand, my acute sense of home and belonging stems from being an immigrant and having moved many times. On the other hand, I have undergone many knee surgeries since the age of 19 having to learn to walk each time. ‘Observations from Hackney Downs’ deals with my latest recovery cycle to develop personal resilience while recuperating from the recent hip surgery. It addresses the somatic impact of silence and repressed family history on my body that I have been researching prompted by my Ukrainian project Fragments of Memory.
Hackney has been my home for nearly 15 years. I find it comforting to discover the overlooked and undervalued. In the noughties I lived in Hackney Wick and Dalston before the big changes happened. Since 2012 I have been researching the Chats Palace visual archive. Last Christmas I moved to a ground floor flat overlooking Hackney Downs Park to recuperate after a major hip surgery. On New Year’s Eve, I set myself a daily Instagram challenge – #recovery #dayX #hackneydowns #crutches. Life on crutches slows you down, lets you be in sink with your body and the surrounding. I haven’t missed a day be it sunny, rainy or icy. There have been setbacks – slower than expected healing of the bones, nasty sprains and strains, but the challenge ‘one photo a day’ kept me going.
At the end of February came the Beast from the East. Snow means home for me. I grew up without seeing grass for 6 months. Feeling snow on my skin and under my feet. The home of my childhood and the home of my adulthood merged. I continued to photograph on my Iphone during the day as I did in the previous weeks. And when the night fell, it brought memories of what it was like to be in the park lit up by the snow. I swapped my Iphone for Canon 6d, two crutches for one crutch and a monopod, and photographed my nearest corner of Hackney Downs.
Recovery milestones, hospital appointments, physiotherapy sessions, government support – all is measured in weeks. Hence the output idea – 10 weeks in 70 images that reflect the weather conditions, the small details, the trees of Hackney Downs.