E8: The Heart of Hackney

Emily Cole . Gary O'Connor . walkwalkwalk . Laura Oldfield-Ford .
Tom Hunter . Barbaresi & Round . Hilary Jack . Matthew Stock

16 June - 15 July 2007 Fri-Sun 12-6pm



Much as those new to London explore the areas around tube stations first and only later realize how they join up, here the artists use the area's chip shops to serve as landmarks and expressions of local particularity. Each shop has something to say about the ethnic and personal character of the owner and the immediate locale. The project eschews homogenous chains and concentrates on the independent shops, their owners, employees and customers, their décor and ephemera. And, of course, their chips.

What emerges will vary with the day and the visitor, but underlying many of the stories at the time of interview was a sense of unease, difficulty, and nostalgia. The project began to look like a witness to another East End tradition under threat. A bag from the shop on Wilton Way shows a fish looking balefully at a strutting saltshaker brandishing a chip on a fork. It seems doleful in the knowledge that its end is near. Fish is endangered in the wild and as a chip shop staple. Even chips are not as cheap as they proverbially were. The chip fork as an artefact? Read Wai Lung Poon's story and weep.

There are positives though. Haggerston Fish Bar appeared to be a casualty until it reopened under new management. And someone who deserves a page of his own: the man who makes an art of serving chips. A master performer, with amazing finesse and impeccable acrobatic and comic timing; a man who knows that life is pleasant if you look after the details. Read about the remarkable act of Zekeriya Tezgel at Simply the Best Fish Bar.

This walk can be experienced as a coherent circular one or, perhaps more like life, as a series of skirmishes. What better way to feel at home in a new place than to locate your nearest chippy? Enjoy their special commemorative wrappings and other ephemera; you are creating history and bearing witness to the archaeology of the familiar and forgotten.

Juliette Adair
This is an extract from 'Delicious & Fresh, Fish & Chips, Fried to Perfection by Experts' in the publication E8: The Heart of Hackney




A map showing the E8 chip shops is available at Transition. There are also two limited edition chip papers available to buy at £5 each they feature Chip Facts and Chip Stories.

On 21 June walkwalkwalk led an E8 chip shop night walk which was attended by an eager group of chip fans - see pictures of the walk here

Read more about the progress of walkwalkwalk's chip shop project on the E8 Chipshop Blog