Hackney Wick and Fish Island: new street art for end of street art

Hackney Wick and Fish Island: then and now

Hackney Wick and Fish Island is an area of land in East London, situated around the Hertford Union Canal and the Hackney Cut, close to Old Ford, Bow and since 2012, the new Olympic Park.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was a busy industrial area producing silk, plastic and shellac.  And the island area was home to Percy Dalton’s Peanut Factory and Forman’s fish smoking plants. Its not an actual island but a loop of land bordered by the canal and the River Lea. And it gets the name from its fishy street names: Dace, Bream, Smeed, Monier and Roach. Once the industries closed down, the area became a quiet backwater and the artists moved in.

The old industrial units were cheap to rent and made for great artist’s studios.  By 2009 there were 600 artists’ studios there boasting the reputation of the largest artistic community in Europe. But the area’s proximity to the new Olympic Park has made it a prime spot for property developers and the area is changing big time.

This is what I saw when I visited in July this year.


Hackney Wick 2016

Where did everybody go?” Hackney Wick 2016. (photographed 31st July 2016)

And when I returned late November, I saw that further demolition had taken place and more hoardings had gone up. But I wasn’t there to mourn the end of the area.  I wanted to see a new mural from one of my favourite street artists, Pang.

Hackney Wick and artist Pang

When I first started noticing street art, I was surprised that in amongst the graphic art, illustration and graffiti, were some classical images and this intrigued me.  One of the first works I spotted was this painting by Pang in Hackney Wick.  And I’ve been a huge fan of her work since then.


Artist Pang Hackney Wick 2014

Artist: Pang. Hackney Wick. (photographed 24th July 2014)

Earlier this year Pang left London but she returned in November contribute a work to a series of paintings on the hoardings on Fish Island.  So I went to see her work for myself.

When I arrived, I wasn’t sure exactly where the new mural was was so I roamed around and noted the changes going on.

Hackney Wick and Fish Island: Buildings coming down and going up

I arrived from Stratford and walking down White Post Lane, this wall hit me with its angry, passionate images. Love 4 London is written on the banner from the clothes peg.


Street art Hackney Wick November 2016

Artists include Mighty Mo (peg), Pyramid Oracle (b&w face) White Post Lane, Hackney Wick (photographed 26 November 2016)


I turned left down by the canal and snapped this new block of flats going up. “Redwine” and the wine glass is a reference to the type of people who might buy these flats.



Third Eye pasteup by Pyramid Oracle. Graff Huh? by Mobstr. Hackney Wick (photographed 26 November 2016)


When I arrived on Fish Island I saw that most of it has now been demolished. The flats you see in the distance have been there since I first visited in 2014.  Its the old industrial units which have now gone.


Hoardings for new building work on Fish Island London November 2016

Fish Island hoardings (photographed 26 November 2016)


The art you can see on the hoardings wasn’t from any artists I already knew. And it’s contained in limited spaces. They are part of this project, Your Work Here from Creative Wick who are the agency in charge of regenerating the area. It all felt very sanitised compared to the work I was more familiar with.  Looks like others thought so too because its been heavily tagged.




I continued on towards Stour Place and spotted this depressing notice on the door, No Graffiti PLS, Thx. Only four months earlier it was adorned by one of Himbad’s cool cats.  Which would you prefer?


Roach Road, Fish Island, London

Roach Road, Fish Island, London (photographed 26 Nov 2016)



Cats by Himbad. Roach Road, Fish Island, London. (photographed 31 July 2016)


Around the corner, this was scrawled on the wall which sums up 2016 rather well.


2016: ..Dead musicians and crazy politicians Simon

Graffiti by Simon. Fish Island, London (photographed 26 November 2016)


As you can see, some people are not happy. These units look empty now. On the wall with the graff, you can see the feet of one of Neoh’s ballet dancer’s poking out at the bottom.



Buildings with graffiti on Stour Road, Fish Island, London (photographed 26 November 2016)


Then I remembered snapping Neoh’s ballerina on previous visit and dug it out of my photo archive. And what I also love about this work is that he’s painted over the graff.  Usually its the other way around, with the graff tagged on the street art.


Dancer by Neoh, Hackney Wick June 2015

Ballerina by Neoh. Shutter to the left by Sweet Toof. Fish Island. (photographed 27 June 2015)


Fish Island and “the writing on the wall” 2014

Those who lived and worked here knew this change was coming. On my first visit to the area in June 2014, I took this photograph but didn’t understand its significance until now.  This must be a reference to the artistic community which was built up here and the destruction of it that has now arrived.


Graffiti and street art Fish Island, London 2014

Graffiti and street art, Fish Island (photographed 13 June 2014)


Fish Island and the 2016 street art hoardings

Further along this road, I found the new work from Pang that I’d been looking for. It was part of marathon paint jam along the hoardings on this stretch of road and around another corner to Swan Wharf on the River Lea.  I’ll post them in sequence without any commentary.


Artist Pang Fish Island, Nov 2016

Artist Pang. Fish Island. (photographed 26 Nov 2016)


Artist Pang Fish Island, Nov 2016

Artist Pang and Skeleton Cardboard


Artist Skeleton Cardboard Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Skeleton Cardboard


Artist Skeleton Cardboard Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Skeleton Cardboard


Artist static Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Static


Artists: static-and-xenz Fish Island Nov 2016

Artists: Static and Xenz,


Artist xenz Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Xenz



Artist Neoh Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Neoh (torsos) and graffiti by ?


Artist Dont-fret-detail-locks Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Don’t Fret. Detail of panel .



Artist is Josh Jeavons


Artist float-and-others Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Float (door panels)


Artist teddy-baden-dog Fish Island 2016

Artist Teddy Baden


-unknown-graffiti Fish Island 2016

Artist … ??


unknown-maybe-its-time-we-hokusai Fish Island 2016

Artist is ?? After Hokusai “Maybe Its time we start building that boat”


Street art hoardings Fish Island Nov 2016

View looking back along road.


The hoardings art then continues around the corner to the left (to the right in the photograph above.)


Artist CKone-graff Fish Island Nov 2016

Graff writer: CKone


Artist-hatch Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Hatch


28-unknown-Fish Island Nov 2016

Graff writer is ??


Graffiti Fish Island Nov 2016

Graff crew is … ??


Graffiti Fish Island Nov 2016

Graff crew is ??


I walked back up passed the work again to return the way I’d come.  And I noticed far more graffiti than I’d ever seen around here before.


Street art hoardings Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Xenz and Static on foreground hoarding.


And I wonder what the area is going to look like next year.  When I first visited Hackney Wick and Fish Island in 2014, it was a glorious sunny day, and the low level buildings around the canal gave the area a mediterranean feel.  As the new buildings may well be higher, that sense of space and light will be lost.

And yes, London does need more homes but I hope they will be affordable homes.

East End Waterways Group: fighting further changes to bridges over the canal

This local action group are lobbying the development agencies to save the two existing bridges to retain the view and character of the area. You can read about what is happening here East End Waterway Group

As I departed Fish Island, I took one last look at a few stickers by some other hoardings.  This image says it all for me.  The artist Pamgood2 was visiting from the USA this summer when she slapped her sticker on the post. Later on, the workmen dripped paint over it as they buffed the hoardings dark grey.  There is no art work on this long stretch of boards.


Artist pamgood2 sticker Fish Island Nov 2016

Artist Pamgood2, Fish Island (photographed 26 Nov 2016)


4 thoughts on “Hackney Wick and Fish Island: new street art for end of street art

  1. Really enjoyed reading this post Tanya.. I love the way you bring back photos from the past and document the changes. It seems that the past is not as far away as it once was,,, Change is speeding thru quicker than we can take log of. Good to see you taking stock of such a sad loss. The artist between “Don’t Fret” and “Float” is “Josh Jeavons ” Another artist I can identify above the REDWINE is ” Mobstr” with his large HUH?

    May I take this opportunity of wishing you a happy festive time of year! I still owe you a drink!!!

    Cheers.. Mitch

    • Thanks so much Mitch for your comments and appreciation. It is rapid and so extensive. Thanks for the two artists you’ve identified. Chuffed that I’ve snapped a Mobstr. I’ve missed many of his recent works around Hackney. And a very happy festive time to you too. Lets hope there’s still plenty of street art to enjoy in 2017. Cheers, Tanya

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