Keeping Fit to Keep Ahead

Black Lives Matter graffiti in London Fields Hackney

The repetition of burpees provides London Fields with a constant rhythm of pulsing bodies. Each movement part of a larger pattern. Subliminally, a police van creeps past a mature horse chestnut tree. A flare of sunlight, reflected from an opening door on the balcony of the tower block overlooking the park, seared a torso on to my retina. An intense cyan afterimage outlines a sinuous muscular physique, suspended impossibly by a single taught calf muscle, one foot pointing down his inner thigh, toes resting just above the knee. Naked except for a pair of dusty earth coloured shorts. Hands together above his head with fingers pointing to the sky, arms bent centring his head within a perfect geometry. Long hair tied in a top knot with strands falling forward.

The police van gently passes a pentagon of mats carefully arranged on the grass. Five white women move between warrior poses in exact choreography. An officer lazily scans the park from the back seats of the van, a wire dangling from his ear. The Women shift pose, revealing perfectly toned bodies under various shades of lycra. The leader is a serene older woman with piercing blue eyes wearing a red scarf tied around her head to keep her greying golden hair in place.

Two blonde children are receiving private tennis coaching on the council owned court. A black face peers out of the white paper hood of his disposable overalls, his hands covered by gloves, one holding a bucket of Henna Red paint and in the other a brush. He is painting out graffiti that appeared on the back of the tennis court changing rooms less than an hour before. His supervisor stands behind him wearing a green sweater with Park Ranger inscribed on the back in ochre yellow. I’m distracted by the rapid flicking of hands in the distance. A woman in a brown and orange floral floor-length maxi dress is lunging forward, thrusting her arms out and flicking her wrists. She straightens up then repeats. Her seven-year-old daughter sits on a yoga mat next to her, squirming with boredom, hair neglected and unkempt.

The police van blocks them from my vision. Its high sides slowly crawl past. Its occupants arrogantly stare. It comes to a halt in front of an older Jamaican man sitting on one of the park benches. His dreadlocks, greying at the roots, are wrapped inside his hat. He is one of the elders. Before the virus, he would come to sit on this bench every Saturday to watch the cricket. The side door slides open and five officers climb out. They circle the man, a notebook is opened and a fine given. He is asked to leave.

There is a loud crack of a tree branch. A personal trainer, with swarthy white skin and a small moustache, wearing a fluorescent orange hat, is attaching a set of wooden Gymnastic Rings to one of the horse chestnut branches. His latest client has just arrived. The Police van retreats across the park.

Hackney Nightsniffing: a walk exploring bats, data and urban change

PLEASE NOTE: This event has been temporarily cancelled in light of the current Covid-19 crisis. eMail to get an alert when the event has been rescheduled.

Organised by Cliff Hammett

Meet: 7:30pm on the 25th March 2020 at St John at Hackney

This is a bat walk with a difference, a search not just for hidden urban bats, but also data systems that govern and record change in the city. All are welcome!

Bats are common in London, but their presence often goes unnoticed by local people. They roost in attics, trees, between roof tiles, and forage for insects in parks, gardens and waterways. Like the city’s other inhabitants they are vulnerable to the churn of urban development – for bats, this could involve the demolition of buildings they roost in, changes to features they navigate by, or introduction of lighting that they might find deeply unpleasant. Bats are protected by law, and so the presence of bats can in turn affect urban development, though the protection offered is not always adequate.

Just as bats are hidden, the systems, decisions, and underlying forces that reshape our city are rare to see. These benefit some, leading to significant profits for developers and benefits for some communities, whereas for others they could mean the loss of their homes or amenities on which they depend. So as we search for bats, we’ll also start to investigate the systems and processes that affect all the city’s inhabitants, albeit in very different ways.

How will we do this? Together we will explore the local area using a combination of bat detectors and specially designed “datasniffers”. The bat detectors make audible the high frequency calls bats use to echolocate. The datasniffers make audible records from London planning databases, giving us hints of how the city has changed and how it is going to change. By exploring these two different, yet intertwined, phenomena, the hope is to spark conversation about how and why the area is changing, the effects on humans, bats and others, and how we might like things to be different.

About Nightsniffing
Nightsniffing is a creative research project, by Cliff Hammett, that seeks to reimagine urban bat walking as a way to collectively investigate the systems that shape the London and other UK cities. The project combines methods from critical making, mobile sonic art and art/science in order to engage different publics with bats, digital systems and planning procedures in novel ways. It starts from the complex relations that bats have with cities and human society, including how bats’ interests figure in the UK planning system, how bats inhabit and use the built environment and the role of bats in community alliances against development. From there, it opens out onto to consider wider systems of urban decision making, considering how decisions are made and in whose interests. Engaging with the technologies and methods that make bats perceivable, Nightsniffing stages walks and events in London that allow different conversations to emerge regarding who and what are cities are for, and how we might wish for them to function differently.

Practicalities and Accessibility
All are welcome. The walk is relatively short, but as it will have several stops it will last around an hour. Please wear warm clothing. In case of moderate or heavy rain, the event will be rescheduled. Let me know if you have any access needs, and I will adapt things accordingly. If you would like to come, but can’t due to e.g. caring commitments or being unable to afford transportation, please get in touch. I have a small fund available to cover costs, so I may be able to help.

Silicon Roundabout

Screening of Cleansing the Silicon Roundabout

Depford Cinima

Sunday 8th May

Between 7pm – 7:45pm

Part of: Out of the Rubble – an evening of short films, discussion and debate about the future of public space in Deptford.

As works begin on transforming Old Street roundabout we thought it was worth returning to this documentary produced in 2013 as a response to the now scaled back redevelopment originally proposed by David Cameron and Boris Jonson.

Film by: Chris Jack, Sasha Scott, and John Wild. Featuring performance by Robin Bale

We Are Fucking Angry

Kill the Housing Bill

CODED GEOMETRY - We Are Fucking Angry

London is experiencing a major wave of class clearances brought about through the invisible logic of neo-liberal economics and the Tory governments attacks on the inner city working class through the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, the ban on residential squatting and now the Housing Bill.

Working class people are being forced out of their homes and areas to make way for the rich. The Housing Bill is an unprecedented attack on working class people with the ultimate aim of social cleansing London’s inner zone, creating a sanitized ‘safe space’ for the incumbent wealthy through the demolition of working class housing and their replacement with luxury flats constructed not for living but for the temporary storage of surplus value.

The Housing Bill is designed to destroy social housing, speed up the clearance of working class private renters by making it easier for landlords to evict their tenants, and force out travellers by removing the requirement for local authorities to assess their specific housing provision.

The Housing Bill proposes to:

  • Designate all existing housing estates as ‘Brown Field’ sites (a term used for formerly industrial land that needs to be cleaned up before it can be redeveloped) and put up for sale, redevelopment or demolition.
  • Sell off ‘high value’ council homes directly on the private market.
  • Introduce a ‘pay to stay’ tax by raising the rents of council properties to market levels for social tenants with a combined income of £30,000 (£40,000 in London). Effectively forcing them out of many inner-city areas.
  • End lifetime Secure Tenancies and replace them with tenancies as short as 2 years.
  • Introduce Means Testing for Council and housing association tenants, which will lead to many working people been evicted from social housing.
  • End the obligation to build council homes replacing it with an obligation to build ‘starter homes’ that only the rich can afford.
  • Make it easier for private landlords to evict renters, and do nothing to control rapidly rising private rents. One of the key tools of the class clearances.
  • Force cash-strapped councils to hand over millions of pounds to housing associations to allow them to sell their properties cheaply.
  • Remove the provision to assess the specific need of Gypsies and Travellers in accommodation assessments. This will lead to inequality of access to suitable accommodation for these minority groups.

Failure to stop the Housing Bill and the wider process of inner city class clearances will lead to an historic shift in the nature of our Cities. They will become  zoned spaces divided by class, with the rich residing in the cleansed inner zones and the working poor forced to the ghettoised periphery.

Only Working Class Direct Action can Stop the Class Clearances

Coded Geometry - Estate Agent

Hackney council! Stop criminalising the homeless

Hackney council have decided to criminalise rough sleeping and begging in an attempt to ‘cleanse’ Hackney of the visible consequences of their gentrification polices.

People found begging or rough sleeping will be fined up to £1,000.

A demonstration has been called to coincide with the councils full Cabinet meeting.

Demand the order which criminalises the homeless is scrapped.


17:00-19:30, Monday 22 June, Hackney Town Hall, Mare St, E8 1EA

FB Event:


Hackney Picture House

‘The Hackney Picture House has had its own turf war in the process of gentrification. At the southern end of the building is a grand semi circular ‘balcony’ with neoclassical columns sheltering a set of semi circular stone steps, which lead up to the, now defunct, grand entrance of the former Hackney Library. The balcony is ornately decorated with a large stone plaque displaying an image of St Augustine’s Tower draped on either side by stone garlands of flowers and fruit. As rents rise people are displaced. This decorative entrance provided temporary shelter for a growing number of homeless people. Mattresses arrived and a small community took residence under the protective stone coat of arms. The stench and filth of human existence did not fit the image Hackney council was fostering. This wasn’t the fashion quarter, Broadway market, Dalston circus, Shoreditch. This was a fissure in the gentrification narrative in plain view of the Town Hall and it needed to be erased. Vanished, swept away, steam cleaned, and boarded up. Battleship grey boards now deny access … Defensive architecture at its most crass’.

Reclaim Brixton

[reposted in solidarity from the Reclaim Brixton Facebook page]

Brixton is widely known for its vibrancy, which is another word for social & cultural diversity. But Brixton’s vibrancy now has a question mark on it. Will Brixton turn into a living museum or will it live?

Meet up in front of the Black Cultural Archives on Windrush square on Saturday 25 April, midday to reclaim Brixton.

Earning less than £25,000? Or long-standing Afro-Caribbean resident? Maybe artist, musician? Shopkeeper? Librarian? Community worker? A teenage skater? A senior resident? A child who likes to play outside pens? Show the world your love for Brixton.

The fight against gentrification starts here!!

Homes are ripped apart? Recreate Brixton homes & interiors on the square!

Businesses, community spaces, venues get shut? Re-enact Brixton’s bustling activist & artistic scene on the square!

Bring deco, props, musical instruments, picture frames, explanation tags, organise audio-tours, anything that highlights the threat of disappearance & tokenisation of Brixton people and Brixton culture. This is a demo and a party, create, participate, think, share and have fun!

****Reclaim Brixton is all for change and regeneration in areas that existing communities benefit, the antithesis of gentrification.*****


Brixton is known for its vibrancy, its social & cultural diversity, not only throughout the UK, but also internationally.

When Nelson Mandela came to the UK as a free man, his first stop was in Brixton, to thank the community for its unwavering support. One of 2014’s most acclaimed British films, Pride, tells the story of a colourful alliance between a resourceful Brixton LGBT group and Welsh striking miners. Prince Charles shopped in our markets to help launch the Brixton pound (and bid to turn the Railway Hotel into a community centre, now sold to the Wahaca chain of restaurants). And Will Smith himself visited our schools (where he spun a Fresh Prince rap) in a quest he said to ‘see London’s Harlem’. Examples like these are never ending. Or are they? Will the Brixton of 2017 be visited, admired, celebrated?

Today vibrancy is sold to garnish property development posters and overpriced bar branding, but in doing so, it is also slowly being killed.

Social diversity is driven out by lack of truly affordable housing. Local businesses are driven out by increasing rents and redevelopment schemes that benefit national & multinational businesses, siphoning money out of the area. Local spaces for people to meet, celebrate, get support or education are being decimated as community groups, long-standing pubs, music venues, libraries & colleges are being relocated, down-sized, repurposed, disappeared.

Brixton’s vibrancy now has a question mark on it. Will Brixton turn into a living museum or will it live?

Join us on April 25th to celebrate, group and regroup around what makes Brixton Brixton.

*****Reclaim Brixton is all for change and regeneration in areas that existing communities benefit, the antithesis of gentrification.****



25 April 2015




Windrush Square,
SW2 1JQ,
United Kingdom

Concrete Heart Land

‘A cinematic drift through the destruction of the Heygate Estate’


concrete Hartlands - Laura Oldfield-Ford

Steven Ball and Laura Oldfield-Ford will present their individual responses to the Social cleansing of the Heygate Estate through the screening of Steven Ball and Rastko Novaković film ‘Concrete Heart Land’ and the presentation of drawings and a live reading of texts produced by Laura Oldfield-Ford.


6pm on Tuesday 27 January 2015

Film and Drama studio
Arts 2 Building, (first floor)
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road
E1 4NS


Laura Oldfield Ford is a London-based artist and writer concerned with issues surrounding contemporary political protest, urbanism, architecture and memory. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2007 she has become well known for her politically active and poetic engagement with London as a site of social antagonism. She is the author of Savage Messiah.

Concrete Heart Land,a film by Steven Ball and Rastko Novaković, exposes the social cleansing of the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, South London. It marks the moment that the estate was finally lost as social housing to make way for an unjust ‘regeneration’ scheme.


Coded Geometry :: QMUL City Centre and School of Geography

Poor Doors Demo

November 19, 2014 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

One Commercial Street (on the corner of Whitechapel High Street & Commercial Street). Every Wednesday between  6-7pm.

London is facing gentrification forcing working people out of their home boroughs as prices rise. Added to the problems of the bedroom tax, inflation, rent rises and pay cuts, working class communities are being dismantled. Social segregation is seeing people being priced out of their own areas. Nowhere is this more stark than in developments using Poor Doors. These developments provide social housing within developments with luxury flats but whilst the rich get a concierge, gyms and other services social housing tenants have no services, separate lifts and an entrance down an ally or round the back.

Class War have been protesting this on Wednesday evenings at 1 Commercial Street, which is just next to Aldgate East tube station.

We now call on all trade unionists to join us on Wednesday with banners and placards to show solidarity with working people on the fringes of The City. Together we can highlight the injustice of social segregation and widening inequality. Please come down and spread the word.

November 19, 2014

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

One Commercial Street
Whitechapel High Street,
E1 7PU
United Kingdom