I promised myself that I would return one day and pick up where I left off. At the time of creating this website, at the beginning of my Footsteps of Hackney project, I was living in Stoke Newington having moved there from Dublin three years earlier. Getting to know London was tricky business. I awoke on my first morning by a knock on the door. I answered it to find a severe looking policeman who wanted to know if I had witnessed the stabbing in the early hours of that morning, I hadn’t. I will never forget walking past the little number plaques on the ground as I ducked under the police tape to make my way to the shop to buy milk, because what do you do when you’re in shock and can’t do anything else, you drink a lot of tea. I found it difficult to get over how nobody seemed all that shocked. People were passing by, going about their day.
I came from a place in Ireland where everybody knew everyone else, and here I was, in London, and nobody knew me at all. It took a little while to realise the full potential of that. Walking around Stoke Newington and Hackney, I got to know my surroundings. Soon my sense of loneliness was replaced with curiosity and calm at wandering and allowing myself the time just to finish a thought. In the first three years London and I spent together we experienced some amazing things. Sunsets over Hackney that you just have to stop and stare at because there’s nothing in this world that could recreate it. Face-offs with the neighbourhood fox who wanted to get in the front door with me. Friendships. A relationship. Another undergraduate degree. Many different jobs to cover the degree costs. Sunrise trips on the bendy-149 bus. The Olympics and most beautiful of all those things, a community.
Footsteps of Hackney gave me a space to express my relationship with London. Illustrating those panels and writing my thesis gave me the chance to explore my connection to London and myself. London has reminded me that you’re never alone and has taught me that a sense of place doesn’t just come from where you come from or where you lay your head.
Perhaps living in Stoke Newington again has rekindled the need to pick things back up again. In my now seven years in London, I have never stopped walking, wondering and getting to know the place. I’d like to use this space to share a few thoughts and drawings that have come about from my wandering. Some of my posts may rest in the realms of self-indulgent overly emotional chat, but more of it will involve a more academic view of things with a little humour thrown in for good measure.