Arrows Of Love pen us an open letter ahead of this weekend’s Wickstock festival, showing solidarity against Londoners’ greatest enemy: property developers.
Jumping on the (justified) bandwagon here: I’m about to tell you about how bleak London is right now. But you already know. You know that beloved club Dance Tunnel is about to open it’s tiny side door for one last time next weekend. You know that the rent for your glorified cardboard box room could get you a small house with a spare room, garden and parking space in any other town. You suspect that the “living wage” is an urban myth and you’re just waiting for the rising new builds, stretching out from the city into Zone 2 and beyond, to block out the sun permanently. You’ve heard it all before.
Let’s add another case to the ever growing list: art collective space Vittoria Wharf is destined for demolition and all those who work there have been handed an eviction notice. Amongst the creative community are art-rock band, Arrows Of Love, whose debut album, Everything’s Fucked, now appears sadly self-prophetic.
But before they admit defeat and hand over the keys so their workspace can become luxury flats, they’re taking this opportunity to raise awareness for and halt the loss of creative spaces in the capital with a celebration of unity. “LET’S JOIN TOGETHER AND BRING SOME HOPE” reads their Facebook page for Wickstock, what was originally the community’s one day event, forced to become an all-weekend festival after overwhelming support for the cause, filled with live performances, DJs, poetry, art and speakers.
Saturday will see five piece Arrows Of Love take to the stage at Open Spaces, playing their suitably riotous latest track “Toad” and draw on their scowling, electrified back-catalogue. Co-writers Nima and Nuha lead the troupe, and amidst all the disruption and destruction, they’re working on their second LP PRODUCT. Nuha penned us an open letter ahead of this weekend’s events, don’t forget to head down to Hackney Wick to show your support.
“We live in an artistic community that’s under threat. It’s a group of buildings that makes up a wharf on the canal, filled with about 60-70 creatively active people – from musicians, to artists, sculptors, filmmakers, screen-printers, producers, set designers, you name it. It’s the kind of thing that’s actually vital for the artistic progression of this city, where art evolves. Because when you stick all these people together in these creatively dense environments, there’s not just people helping each other, lending time and gear and working together, but there’s a cross-pollination of ideas, inspiration, and activities that go on as a result that would just never happen when people are all separated like islands across a sea of detached houses around the city.
Everyone based there has chosen their work as a lifestyle – above living in ‘comfort’ – and so everyone respects that in each other and the support that brings to each individual is huge. We recently did a show in our warehouse, with NTS Radio and Loose Bones, and that’s one of about 10 different events a month which range in music styles, theatrics, open art sessions etc. It’s become a creative centre in the area that people come to and receive that little bit of magic and inspiration this city is sapping from itself more and more.
On an everyday level, it was interesting to notice a patch last year where we as a band did pretty much everything we needed with our amigos here – we were working on a video with the talented director SKOGR, based downstairs who had just been working on Fat White Family’s videos, we were pre-producing our album at our friend’s recording studio downstairs, writing songs on a boat someone had lent us parked outside on the canal, rehearsing at Nuha’s warehouse, and in the meantime our T-shirts were being printed by another friend and neighbour in the building we live in.
There’s probably a whole lot more to say. I’ll just end it with the point that the government will never see the true value of places like this, so as it was with so many before it, it’s due to be knocked down and ‘regenerated’ once the plans go through. We will put up a fight, but in the meantime we’re all intent on making the most of every day here while we can.”