Round the commons
In an attempt to get my bearings and make sense of this project I decide to walk round all the commons in one go, starting from Hackney Downs and then ending up at London Fields, a route that pretty much takes me from one end of Hackney to the other. These commons are in some respects unremarkable but at the same time important, providing green space, identity and a continuity with the history of the area. They are local markers and points of reference in the urban tangle of roads.
Their magic lies in their ancient history, the past is contained within these patches of land over which is layered our own time. The marks that the past leaves behind on the landscape are not always visible but old maps show that shapes and boundaries of these spaces have not changed at least since the 19th century.
These are spaces that have been fought for. In the late 19th century on Hackney Downs radical direct action stopped a local landowner from fencing off parts of the Downs, fences were torn down and there were confrontations with the police.
The Hackney Commons are a testament to these endeavours and a reminder of past way of life.
I have been repeatedly around, across and through this land over the past year connecting myself to the commons. My eyes adjust and overlooked patches of scrubby land reveal themselves to me slowly.