There’s something undeniably magical about Hackney Marshes. If you’ve ever walked along the River Lee just as the sun rises on an October morning, you know what I’m talking about. It’s one of the few places in London where nature has been allowed to just exist. Freya Najade is a London-based photographer who, in her new book The Hackney Marshes, captures the magic of this east London sanctuary.
Most of the photographs in her book were taken during the lockdown. “When the pandemic hit, these spaces acquired new meaning. A local resident of east London, Freya frequently visited the marshes: walking her dog, taking photos, observing the slow procession of the months. Like many of us, at a time of restraint and indoor lethargy, she sought the expansive embrace of the outdoors,” Rosalind Jana writes in the book’s introduction.
With The Hackney Marshes, Freya Najade captures a moment in time when we needed nature more than ever and takes us on a journey through the uncontainable wildness of the Hackney Marshes and a celebration of the untouched nature, as well as the communities who seek solace and refuge there. From the tempo and the energy of the football pitches to the tranquillity of the pathways along the river – it’s a space that’s full of contrast.
Najade’s photographs portray the balance of the wildlife and the visitors and remind us of the poetry of the landscape. As Rosalind Jana continues, “All of Freya’s photos, whether they alight on humans, herons or brambles strung with spiders’ webs, reveal an eye that is at once curious and compassionate. It does not judge. It merely roams”.