Hackney Wick Underground is a grassroots nonprofit organisation led by Civic State. A live project that practices commons principles, acknowledging the ideology as a valuable and inclusive means of governing space. We are as much a workspace as a collective, exhibition space and a community, offering affordable studio space along with a host of open source provisions at reasonable rates for the residents of Hackney Wick and Fish Island.

Co-designing workspace using the principles of commons reintroduces empowerment and diversity into governing the creative sector, while naturally creating opportunities for learning and knowledge to be shared.

We are practically exploring our rights to use land, to organise, to empower and to influence. To practice our rights as citizens.

Neil McDonald, Co-Founder

While the immediately practical objective for this project is based around affordable creative workspace, the scope for its impact is far wider. It will provide significant research and development to be applied to the area, and further afield, in line with many local and London-wide initiatives. These include the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk team, HWFI Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) and in collaboration with: Stour Space, London Metropolitan University, UCL, Loughborough University, Innovate UK, HWFI Community Development Trust (CDT) and a number of local partners and international committees.

The project aims to demonstrate new models of business, place-making and civic engagement. It will reflect and showcase community heritage, culture and diversity, support the creation of approximately 20 new jobs, develop skills and encourage socio-economic resilience through: capacity building, workshops, training and education, supporting the wellbeing of people through community cohesion, civic engagement and empowering people in their capacity as citizens to be active members of their community.

The project draws on over a decade of empirical research and development through the creation and development of Stour Space as well as the HWFI Community Development Trust in this locality and thus is uniquely placed to address the immediate needs of our community now as well as present live dynamic solutions in the recovery from Covid 19.

Neil McDonald


Neil McDonald is an Artist, Activist and founder of several non-profit organisations such as Stour Space, all working in a cross sector capacity and practically within the commons discourse, creating accessible resources for socio-economic development and giving strategic advice to communities and government alike, giving talks and seminars and leading numerous campaigns. Currently he is undertaking the MA – Design for Cultural Commons at London Metropolitan University, co-designing a Civic Curriculum working in partnership with a wide stakeholder base and using Civic State’s access common resources as leverage for furthering the commons discourse and implementation.

Neil can oftentimes be found in the garden, in the forest and sometimes in the studio making sculptures, musical instruments, furniture and jewellery

Lily Heaume

Apprentice Extraordinaire

Lily is a Hackney wick resident who has been lucky enough to call the area her home for the last 5 years! Having studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, Lily has developed a relational art practice from a fascination of East London. Through the forms of smell tours, walking workshops and bookmaking, Lily critically explores London’s Olympic landscape and what affects sporting mega events can have on the physical landscape environmentally, economically and relationally. This has directly influenced her hobby as a drinks maker by introducing foraging practices which produce the ingredients for her wines and beers that are all locally foraged around the green spaces of Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets. Aside from this she has a history of teaching ceramic lessons and other art practices to children, maintaining a spatial and environmental focus.

Mateusz Kotecki


A photographer & videographer  using visual media to connect & address social issues.
The main focus of his creative activities is based on photography & film . He has received a MA degree in Photography from Middlesex University during which he has created three books, two of each have been focused on small artists. 

The first one focused on the artist struggling to make it in the industry and having to support themselves via hospitality work.
The second was a street project on buskers & street artist that choose to take their craft to the public rather than being constricted by venues, galleries and such. 

Since the ending of his course in 2018 he has worked with a number of artists and organisations & became a member of several arts collectives.

On top of managing HW Underground, he is personally working on a documentary for the organisation as well as offering free product photography and visual content for the artist involved to support them during those trying times.

You can find us at:

Unit 3, 66 – 78 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN


Turn right as you come out of Hackney Wick Overground station and we’re just across the road. You’ll see Doh’s signs immediately!