Creating Hackney as Home

Creating Hackney as Home:
Five reflections on a London borough


Tyrell's photos

My photo essay of my area and my journey to work on the railways in North london.

My first photo essay. I took photos in central London, then at my college in Newham and then around Hackney. I was trying to give a bit a of sense of where I live but also about the different places that I go on a daily basis.

"I took out some books today on Bethnal Green, Stoke Newington and I need to read them a bit, get some information. I went to the library, I was there for an hour, researching fashion, looking for books, but I’ve took out a few. I found out there was quite a lot on the history of Hackney, but the archives were closed. The man told me that Stoke Newington archives has a lot on Hackney’s history so I’m gonna be going there on Monday…"

"Today I went to Hackney Library and found a book called 'Black Style' that was all about dress and identity of black people in London. It was perfect for doing some research for my film. I was trying to find something on the way people dress and like how it’s changed in the last 10 years… I’m gonna go back to the archives tomorrow and see what I can dig up and what I can find about the dress code and how it’s changed in Hackney since maybe the 80s or the 70s? Maybe we could go that far back into Hackney’s history or the dress... The history, the real history of dress and how it’s changed, I’d really like to find that, I’m really interested in the dress code of Hackney…"

The book that Tyrell is talking about here is: Carol Tulloch (2004) 'Black Style', V&A Publications: London.

"This is another one of my little documentary things about me just talking about our fieldtrip today. Basically, from Hackney we went to Parliament Hill in Hampstead to look at the view over London. We talked about different kinds of views and perspectives. I took some pictures of the tall buildings in the city centre. We were also, like, trying to compare how this place was different to Hackney where we lived, and if this changed how we thought about Hackney itself. Then we went to Camden Lock, and we just… my first reflection was that I wasn’t really gonna fit in because in Camden, it’s really, like, kind of well-off, trendy people, so… coming from Hackney, it’s really like ghetto kind of thing, so it’s really different. It’s really kind of weird when you go there, but when you go, Camden’s kind of diverse because, like, everyone’s their own person, everyone’s unique, so yeah, it’s alright really… and we had some food at the market and it was good. But I noticed you can really tell the difference of where you are… and I’d like to conclude that it was a good day."

“I went to Broadway Market with Melissa yesterday, I found it to be very interesting. I interviewed five different people about the way they dressed and most of them said that they describe their dress as ‘eclectic’, which means quite different, and they don’t care what other people think. This could be just them saying that, and trying to look brave, so, but I’m not sure about that one… also, a woman said that she feels safer in East London rather than Sheffield where she comes from, cos she had a Goth style, and I found that to be quite weird cause all the crime is in East London.”

“There was also a gay guy that was talking, he was gay and proud so he don’t care… I was surprised to know that you hear most of the interesting things when the mic was turned off, so the tall man that I interviewed said, like, the old style comes back, it always comes back or something like that… cause most of the youngsters today are wearing 70s tops and jumpers and all that. So yeah, that was very interesting and that’s what I found out. Some people were also saying that the change happened so fast that they didn’t recognize it for a bit… so that’s also another interesting thing…”

Tyrell recorded these interviews, which you can listen to on his podcasts page [hyperlink].             

"Today I interviewed my friend Hamza on Broadway Market, near where he lives. He said he wears whatever he feels that’s nice and will make him feel comfortable to wear it. Not caring about what anybody thinks. He said a few years ago people wouldn’t really wear skinny jeans and things like that round there, and the trendiness was not that usual. He just basically said it’s really changed, like culture-wise, he said that it was mostly black people and like a poor area, but now it’s like, it’s trendy and these poor people just went somewhere else where it’s affordable. I think people just move to where they can survive. It’s not about if you like it, it’s where you can survive. So yeah their style is still there but it’s kind of faded. Like on that street he don’t really chill there, like, as in stand about and talk to his friends no more. It’s like, he wants to move off and go to his nan’s around the corner. It’s kind of behind Broadway Market."

After filming his interview with Hamza, Tyrell asked some of his friends to act up like the hoody stereotype of young black men in Hackney, so he could show this contrast with the trendy side of Hackney style in his film. At the end of the day Tyy dressed in his trendy persona and recorded his final reflection piece to camera.

"My film uncovers the reality of what you would have went through if you had grown up in Hackney, how you would feel about the way people look at you and judge you by what you look like. It’s just the feelings and what would come into your mind first. I wrote down on the piece of paper my opening questions about dress and identity and what the first couple of minutes would be about. So like, the first minute I would go to the camera and introduce the questions I was going to talk about. And then I would start with the first question and I would put my opinion and my views, and then ask someone about it. So basically just going through it like that, but I was also addressing the questions through what I was wearing for each scene as well."

Today we shot the first half of Tyrell’s film, recording two pieces to camera with Tyy in his hoodie persona, and two interviews that related to these questions. Tyrell's friend from secondary school, Selin, was the first person we interviewed, mainly about the differences between how young men and women in Hackney experience pressures to dress in certain ways. The second person we talked to was Bilau, a youth worker and teacher who runs the youth centre at Fellowes Court. He explained how he managed his appearance depending on where he was, but also said that he thought young black men in particular were subject to a lot of misjudgement. At the end of the day we went to Shoreditch to record some long, locked-off shots of passers-by.

The Open University Economic and Social Research Council