As part of her final year at Camberwell UAL, the illustrator has spent the last 12 months recording her daily walks around east London.
We've all experienced a few changes over the pandemic, the good and the bad. For Becky Moriarty – an illustrator originally from Ireland who's now based in Hackney – she's spent the last year or so meandering the streets of east London. Her change occurred when she noticed familiar faces, the same noses and eyes repeatedly appearing on her walks. Intrigued, she put her thoughts to paper and started work on her illustrative series, Hackney's landscape of memory.
"I wanted to understand this place through collecting traces of the people living here now and before," she tells Creative Boom. "Embodying a true flaneur, I started using my daily walks to 'drift' through the landscape collecting photos, rubbings, video recordings and drawings." Like a real explorer, Becky would record her travels to new and exciting places – the city's hidden gems that were devoid of any tourists. "I started to question where I fit within the community, which lead me to connect with a group of Irish Elders living in Hackney. We have been sharing and exchanging our stories of a similar journey, made at a different moment in time, with the aim of preserving and capturing our memories through illustration."
Becky is currently finishing up her MA in Illustration at Camberwell UAL, which is where she's been nose deep in the making of this series. On a mission to document memories, her illustrative style is, therefore, sketchy and allusive, detailing the moments from the past and turning them into a fresh set of cohesive drawings. In one, there's a snapshot of a building on 408 Kingsland Road in Dalston, where a '1st Class Laundrette' sits with a quintessentially brick facade and bold signage. Scribbled in black markings and splashes on pinks, the more analogous of the illustration is paired with photographic snips in the background – an interesting contrast, to say the least.
In another, there's an array of glass bottles, some used for ink and others for ointments, while another depicts a car wash. A typical passerby might miss these moments, but Becky sees the beauty and magic in everything that she observes. It's a skill that she developed over the course of lockdown while being forced away from her desk and out into the open. "I have an interest in investigating the intangible," she continues. "Capturing traces of memory and grasping on to places that could disappear. An everyday moment can be so precious to one person but, at the same time, forgettable to someone else. What makes it so? Do spaces and objects also hold on to memories?"
The past year has been a rollercoaster for Becky, who's experienced both creative highs and unexpected challenges. And now, her work has been accepted into the Made in Arts London 2021 Collection, which means her future plans are already shaping up nicely. This, combined with plans to sell work at markets and fairs, plus the hopes of an artist residency, means there's much to look forward to in the coming months.