Regent Studios was designed for the Greater London Council in 1965 by Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardell to meet the needs of small-scale light industries in the East End. By the 1990s British manufacturing was on its uppers and the concrete framed block had become a desolate high rise. But fortunes change rapidly in the city and this well-considered building has in recent years carved out a contemporary place for itself as a creative hub occupied by architects, artists and designers.
But pre 1965 there is a hidden story of place. The plot where Regent Studios now stands, was post-war waste ground, the terraced houses that once occupied it bombed, flattened and slum-cleared. This unloved negative space was, however, in the eyes of the local youths, ripe with possibilities and here in the triangle formed by Andrews Road, Sheep Lane and Ada Street a track was stamped out, bikes were stripped down and cycle speedway began. In its heyday this make-do-and-mend track attracted audiences of up to several hundred to see local team the Warwick Lions compete in the East London Cycle Speedway League.
Inspired by this psychogeographic poetry of place, Transition Gallery, a Regent Studio resident since 2006, has commissioned a three artists, Luci Eyers, Andrew Kotting, James Roseveare to make contemporary responses to long forgotten histories. Speedway the resulting exhibition is a circulatory meshing of a sense of community, historical layering, philosophical ruminations on time, archaeology, leisure and present day artistic ingenuity.
Alongside the physical works, writer in residence Helena Haimes has written about the show in a gallery text. She has also written, Must we make our own fun? which, examines the nature of contemporary leisure in a rapidly changing city, and is published in the new Urban Ghosts issue of Garageland magazine which accompanies and extends the themes of the exhibition.
Speedway Talks will further extend the exhibition with guest speakers to include John Goldsmith from the Warwick Lions, the cycle speedway team based at the Andrews Road track. The exhibition ends on Saturday 13 May with Ghost Cinema, a day of screenings, talks and performances by artists and academics, inspired by a long-gone neighbourhood cinema in Hackney.