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East London 2012: NO-WAY's Charlotte Jansen

We speak to the founder of the art collective, agency and gallery about the changes across Hackney, Dalston, Shoreditch and Old Street

In the current issue of Dazed & Confused, we spoke to 30 artists, designers and entrepreneurs based in east London to join the debate of whether east London is dead. One of the creative heads we spoke to was curator Charlotte Jansen of the creative agency and gallery NO Way - and in the full interview here, Jansen talks about being based in Hackney and the changes the local area has gone through over the recent years of social and cultural development.

Dazed Digital: Who are you and what do you do for a living?
Charlotte Jansen:
I run NO Way – a synthesis of a creative agency, collective and gallery, based in east London. We represent visual artists and musicians. I also write, teach and co-edit a zine called SIX.

DD: Where in east London are you based?
Charlotte Jansen: We work between our artists’ studios, seven of which are based in Hackney. Our events happen in different locations, east. We've worked previously with The Print House gallery in Dalston, Arbeit off Old Street and Beach on Cheshire Street, and our next shows are in Shoreditch, at JaguarShoes and The Old Truman Brewery.

DD: What first attracted you to the area and how long have you been working here?
Charlotte Jansen: I moved to Dalston four years ago. The rent was cheaper than anywhere else then...

DD: How has east London changed since then?
Charlotte Jansen: The prolific development. The area I used to live in was lined with empty spaces – it's now lined with sharp retailers. The landscape has changed significantly, even in the last year. But this kind of thing always happens inside cities. East London was earmarked for commercial development, being so close to the city... The interesting thing is to see where things will start happening next. The south of Stamford Hill looks like Stoke Newington Road did a few years back. And of course there's a lot happening in south London. Artists create the cachet and the developers chase after.

DD: What is the most exciting thing about being in the East End?
Charlotte Jansen: People are really strongly connected by what they do. The area is really led by young people who are audacious and entrepreneurial but also driven towards contributing something meaningful, and fun. It's competitive, which makes everyone strive for excellence, and it's predominantly a similar age demographic within the creative community, so people are really supportive of each other. It's a very positive place to work.

DD: Has the area informed your creative work?
Charlotte Jansen: Definitely. I came into contact with all of the artists we represent through living and working in the area. I think the approach of all of our artists is also very representative of the spirit of the area, of combining this pragmatism with artistic endeavour.

DD: Is it possible to say ‘Silicon Roundabout’ aloud without laughing?
Charlotte Jansen: Haaaa.... It's better than ‘Silicon Valley’! They should build a big silicon sculpture over there.

DD: What's your favourite East End hangout?
Charlotte Jansen: I love Allpress Expresso on Redchurch Street at the moment. The new HUH. store in Dalston, run by the lovely Jack and Robyn, and their dog Archie.

DD: Does anything annoy you about the area? If so, what?
Charlotte Jansen: Its instability. The rising rents and over-saturation that are leading to creatives being defanged and non-profit enterprises being crowded out. Oh, and Boxpark.

DD: What are you going to do during the Olympics – stay or flee?
Charlotte Jansen: Flee. I don't like the Olympics, they incite nationalism. The UK is getting over-inflated with national pride with the build up. Pride goes before a fall...

DD: Is east London dead?
Charlotte Jansen: NO way!

Dazed Digital invites you to map your east London memories on our timeline, 'A Secret History of East London'. Get involved HERE!

Photo by Jamie Hawkesworth