Hoxton's singing sharks move to Islington

Jaimie Shorten’s sharks now installed at City Road Basin.

Jaimie Shorten’s sharks now installed at City Road Basin. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Hoxton's singing sharks have found a new temporary home at Islington Boat Club in the City Road Basin.

The large singing fibre-glass sharks were removed from Regent’s Canal in Hoxton last year after Hackney council requested a last-minute injunction granted by the High Court.

Architect Jamie Shorten, who designed the sharks, said: "I am happy to see all five of the sharks free and together again and in their natural environment, which is Islington."

Architect Jaimie Shorten's art installation was the winning design in the world renowned Antepavilion competition last year. 

The competition was established by the owner of Hoxton Dock's Russell Gray, through his company Shiva Ltd, as a means of developing and displaying experimental structures. 

Hoxton sharks now installed at City Road Basin

The large singing fibre-glass sharks were removed from Regent’s Canal in Hoxton after a last-minute injunction was granted by the High Court last year. - Credit: Polly Hancock


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But planning disputes have plagued the Antepavilion series since it started in 2017.

The yearly competition also saw a rooftop structure in Haggerston called Potemkin Theatre served a demolition notice after it was built and other clashes with Hackney's planning department. 

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Hoxton Dock's owner Russell says the injunction served by Hackney council is under judicial review and litigation ongoing, and several Freedom of Information (FOI) requests have been sent to the local authority asking for it to reveal the costs of legal action, paid for by Hackney taxpayers, and its motive for forcing the sharks' removal.

Russell claims hundreds of letters in support of the installation were sent to the council, adding that he is unsure about how long the sharks will be able to stay in Islington.

He said: "Its nice to see the [sharks in Islington], of course they were injuncted before they got properly in the water at Hackney.

The sharks were installed at Islington Boat Club to celebrate its 50th anniversary. 

The sharks were installed at Islington Boat Club to celebrate its 50th anniversary. - Credit: Polly Hancock

"But they did spend a couple of months in the water so they are not strangers to the water but, they haven’t enjoyed as much time splashing around as they would have naturally.

"So, that they have seen the light of day in their intended configuration is obviously nice."

In response, a Hackney council spokesperson said it "considered the 'Sharks!' installation to adversely affect the setting of Haggerston Bridge", which is a grade II listed site. 

They added: "The design, size and nature of this artwork was not in keeping with the surroundings on the Regents Canal conservation area and proved to be an obstruction to public access along the towpath on the northern side of the canal, which has seen increased use recently.  

"The installation attracted greater numbers of people using the path and as a result, compromised safety and social distancing rules."

The council said it had received "a number of general complaints" regarding the ongoing activities at the Hoxton Docks site which led to it applying to the court for an injunction to remove the installation and further prevent its display at the Hoxton Docks site. 

The spokesperson added: "The council has complied with its obligations in full with respect to the FOI Act, and with all directions from the ICO", despite Russell stating he has not received any information through FOI requests. 

Hackney did not comment on the cost of ongoing litigation. 

A spokesperson for Islington council said: "[Islington] council understands that the shark installation in the City Road Basin is a short-term temporary installation to mark the reopening of the Islington Boat Club. 

"Any alterations, or permanent constructions or installations within the City Road Basin would have to obtain planning permission as well as approval from the Canal and River Trust and the Council. No consents have been sought."

"The council has written to the Islington Boat Club to remind them of this, and to ask for the installation to be removed."

Sharks! installation at Islington Boat Club.

Islington council says the installation is a short-term temporary installation to mark the reopening of the Islington Boat Club. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Alongside the setting up of the sharks installation Islington Boat Club has launched 'Mission50', a community fundraising campaign designed to celebrate the club's 50 years and raise much-needed funds to secure its future. 

London's Antepavilion charity is launching its fifth annual pavilion competition this year, for the first time without support from its former partner the Architectural Foundation due to the ongoing legal battles with Hackney council, according to the online publication Dezeen. 

Hoxton sharks now installed at City Road Basin

Sharks! installation was the winning design in the Antepavilion charity's annual pavilion competition last year. - Credit: Polly Hancock



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