This site-specific commission by artist and local resident Joanne Dorking was created as part of the Phase One relaunch and directly referenced a specific element of the history of working class culture and values in Hoxton. The work was in commemoration of ‘hopping’ – the summertime tradition of London’s East Enders from the turn of the century to the 1960s to travel to Kent and work in the fields picking hops. This ‘holiday’ enabled multi-generational groups of families and friends to enjoy the fresh air and countryside and earn a few bob.
My work is about loss and memory, including the death of working class communities and culture in the ‘regeneration’ of traditionally working class areas. This piece was installed fresh and the hops’ powerful fragrance, prompted memories of the past. Over the course of the installation, they slowly dried and decayed naturally creating a lasting image of the past. I wanted to invite my friends and neighbours to take part in a conversation about place, time, memory, and the possibility of art playing a part in their lives.
Local people were invited to bring along photos and mementos and share memories of hop picking in a workshop that took place on Friday 18 September.