Monday, 5 July 2010
From Docklands to the Olympics
Found myself immersed in the Olympics this weekend after leading a walk around Docklands and Stratford, curated by Ruth Ewan for the Chisenhale Gallery. It was an unusual event for me – a talk on the move, or series of talks – but it worked very well. We began at Crossharbour, outside The George pub, where Ground Control opens. I chose it as it seemed to draw a boundary line between the finance district and the Isle of Dogs which remains almost entirely untouched by the supposed promise of ‘trickle-down’. Next stop was the privatised Canary Wharf Estate, before crossing the dual carriageway which separates Canary Wharf from Poplar. There can be no better illustration of the stark segregation of the area than Aspen Way, a motorway which separates the glittering towers from local communities, who are literally on a different level. The walk drew to a close in Stratford, overlooking the Olympic site. With its reliance on Westfield Stratford City, Westfield’s 170 acre open air shopping mall, the development looks increasingly outdated. However, while Stratford City will effectively be a private city within a city, the Olympic Park might have a more promising future. While there is no doubt that the entire Olympic site will be a disturbingly high security zone it is by no means certain the park will be entirely private. I understand the details on who will own and control the site have not yet been finalised and I hope to do more work on this soon.