Artist Jeannette Barnes works in her Hackney Wick studio near the Olympic stadium. She is one of a large community of artists who work in the old industrial buildings in the area, and is one of the rare supporters of the development brought on by the games. She says there are parts of the neighborhood she wouldn’t have dared walk through for fear of her safety before the building started. “I would have got mugged,” she says.
Many of Barnes’ recent works depict the construction around the Olympic sites – in this picture she is working on a charcoal drawing of the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, the controversial sculpture by Amish Kapoor at the center of the site. “I love it,” she says, shrugging off others’ criticism. “It’s a lovely, complicated interesting thing.” The framed work alongside shows the construction of the Olympic stadium.
Hackney Wick has one of the highest concentrations of art studios in the world, according to the local artists, and many of them resent the Olympics’ intrusion into their lives. “There are thousands of art studios already, and really cheap housing, so [new buildings] feel like competition,” says Rebecca Whyte, who runs the Stour Space studio and gallery – the closest public building to the Olympic stadium. She fears artists will be priced out of their studios and worries that the unique community will be lost. “In a big, huge, international project like this, the little guy never wins,” she says.
(Gideon Mendel / Corbis for msnbc.com)
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