About the project

Mapping Your Manor was a project by Lucy Harrison in 2011, in response to Ackroyd and Harvey’s Mapping the Park art commission.

The project involved making audio recordings with people who live or work near to each of 10 trees planted as part of Ackroyd and Harvey’s commission, to be listened to in those places. The tracks are available to download from this website as MP3 files. For other formats please contact Lucy Harrison

The soundtracks are intended to be used while walking around and through the Olympic Park, although they can also be enjoyed elsewhere.

The project was commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority and supported by Arts Council England.

Introduction by Sarah Weir

As part of the new landscape in the Olympic Park, the Olympic Delivery Authority has commissioned a series of permanent art works by a range of artists, both local and international to reflect the creative communities that surround the Park, and to ensure that art and artists remain a core character of east London after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The project has been jointly funded by Arts Council England.

One of the ODA’s major art commissions is Mapping the Park by British artists Ackroyd and Harvey. Ten locations marking entrances to the Olympic Park will be planted with semi-mature deciduous trees each holding a 6m diameter metal ring.  Nine of the rings are inscribed with historical information relevant to each location.  The tenth tree will evoke the spirit of London 2012 through the voices of the communities living around the five Host Boroughs.

Lucy Harrison was commissioned to work with local people to raise awareness of Ackroyd and Harvey’s work, which will form a part of their local neighbourhood in the future. Her proposal was to make audio recordings with people who live or work near to each of the Entrance Marker locations, culminating in a soundtrack which can be listened to while walking through and around the Park.

Working in collaboration with local walking group the Newham Striders and Ramblers, and other local residents, she explored the areas around the edge of the Park and invited a range of people to be recorded, sharing stories, memories, poems, songs and even cookery sessions. The resulting recordings – 30 in total – are available for download from this websiteand also in other accessible formats.

Artists Ackroyd and Harvey have used this rich source of personal accounts to include in the text of the spirit ring, which will be suspended from the English Oak tree at the South West entrance of the Park. This location, the most prominent entrance for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games linking Westfield Shopping Centre with the Olympic Park, will therefore be both a lasting memory and commemoration of the spirit of the communities who were living around the periphery of the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Sarah Weir
Arts and Culture Director
Olympic Park Legacy Company
Previously Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy, Olympic Delivery Authority

Mapping Your Manor: Introduction by Iain Aitch

The Olympic Park may be at the very centre of Mapping Your Manor, but in reality this collection of voices, sounds and music is far more about the edges than the middle. That, after all, is always where the interesting things happen and where the best stories evolve. The margins are the space where we have time to think and space to grow: unclaimed locations that we make our own. This ownership translates to the kind of pride and enthusiasm for locales that brims in those interviewed and recorded for the project. Even at the epicentre of the Olympic site, Mapping Your Manor seeks out the fringes, uncovering the memories discarded in the long grass.

Myriad guide books and walking tours will be produced that offer opinion and fact on the stadia, landscaping and legacy associated with the Olympic Park, but this unique aid to meandering summons up history, personality and a real experience of east London as it was, is and will be. This is not an exhaustive guide to east London, the Olympic Park or even the sometimes forgotten corners that Lucy Harrison walks through with her microphone held high. This is a snapshot, a pub legend, a poem blown in on the wind. Don’t expect to find out the best place to eat, how much earth was moved during the Olympic project’s construction or grid references for train stations.

Mapping Your Manor is about emotion, evocation and a sense of belonging. Using only local voices, the audio tours that make up this collection are a series of sketches that build to paint a picture. Taken as snippets or as a whole, the stories from walking group the Newham Striders, industrial sounds of Hackney Wick and near-forgotten songs from The Eton Manor Boys’ Club are a privileged window to a world that you may have walked through without knowing a thing about. The recordings allow you to take a metaphorical peep through the letterboxes of closed and shuttered buildings or locate the genius loci of a road that is no longer there. To outsiders, the site where the stadia now stand were a wasteland before the modern structures rose from the marshland, but locals know that another truth exists. They have served geographical apprenticeships in the area, traversing the desire lines, canal paths and warehouses in search of wildlife, a place to be alone or a venue for an illegal party.

These happy wanderers all seem to know each other by sight if not by name, sometimes they pass with a silent nod, a wave or, more rarely, stop for tea and a reminisce. However, many dog walkers, cyclists and shift workers prefer to occupy their own space as they move through this no-man’s-land. Some wear headphones to avoid interaction, others look to the skies or deep down into the water, scanning for sunken treasure, fish to catch or a line for a poem.

But these tours are not simply countryside escapism within the urban environment, there are memories of factories, workshops and even a Speedway stadium now buried deep beneath the London 2012 site. Some of these places still exist, but others are more like a dream. There is the moved-on traveller site, the huge vanished housing co-op, the boys’ club. If you listen hard and make a wish you may be able to hear an ice cream van or six in the distance. Try it.

Mapping Your Manor is an encouragement to take a step away from the ordinary, sometimes while wandering straight through it. The bland ageing mall that is the Stratford Centre is brought to life by the voices of traders, regaling you with more than the price of apples. The estates and bingo halls become a hubbub of friendly sounds. These recordings make up the story of a much-loved place through its people, making both seem both brighter and enriched as a result. So open your ears and your eyes and keep stepping forward. But don’t forget to look down. Even a sweet wrapper could be a historical artefact or a passport to this area’s past.

Iain Aitch
Stratford, London, 2011.

Iain Aitch is an author, journalist and artist. www.iainaitch.com.