Garfield Hackett is the Co-Director of London Pleasure Gardens, a new arts and entertainment destination in east London featuring open-air concerts, theatre and dance, a floating cocktail bar and a nature reserve. He tells IdeasMag why he can't work without Afrika Bambaataa, his bicycle and his mum's cooking...
Garfield Hackett, 45, Co-Director, London Pleasure Gardens.
What does your job involve?
We work really collaboratively at London Pleasure Gardens, so my job involves a little bit of everything: from dreaming up plans with my co-directors Debs Armstrong and Robin Collings, working with artists on site to help them realise their visions, meeting investors and potential clients, negotiating media partnerships, hosting parties and events, meeting local residents and showing the around London Pleasure Gardens. When we first found out we’d be able to take over the site, I spent a week living here in my Winnebago, trying to visualise what it could be like. Essentially I’m a big kid in a massive playground, making the dreams of all the amazing people we work with become a reality.
Five things you can’t work without:
1. My mobile phone
It’s my source of contact with the world – I’m constantly on it, talking rubbish! I don’t like emails; I like to hear people’s voices when I’m communicating with them – or even better, see them face-to-face.
2. Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force (1982)
This album genuinely changed my life. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be a lawyer, and then I heard Planet Rock and realised that that was the world I wanted to be in: music, arts and entertainment. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to make that dream my reality.
3. A pair of tights to wrap my dreads in aka ‘my thinking cap’
I have really long dreadlocks and if I let them loose they get in the way and give me a headache, so I wrap them up in a pair of tights – it doesn’t need to be anything more sophisticated than that – to keep them out of the way. It has been more necessary than ever over the last few weeks as I’ve been spending all my time on the London Pleasure Gardens site as it has been developing, and there’s been so much dust and dirt flying around! I call it my “thinking cap” because having your dreads flying round all over the place can be pretty distracting; when they’re out of the way, I’m in business!
4. My bicycle
It is my only source of transport – I don’t drive, or take the train, and I love getting around London under my own steam. The best thing about it is that it is the only time I don’t need to answer my phone: there’s a fantastic sense of freedom when I’m on my bike. Having said that though, the journey out to London Pleasure Gardens on the DLR is pretty brilliant too, passing through east London and the Docklands and seeing the hugely varied landscape, from the towers of Canary Wharf, the river and parks, the Millenium Dome and the cable cars, and the faded glory of the industrial estates. It is an extraordinary part of London and we love being here.
5. My mum’s oxtail and rice
It is the most beautiful, sustaining meal in the world – there’s nothing else like it. People travel all over the world for it. Would you believe the Jamaican athletics team pop round to my Mum’s house to get some of her oxtail and rice? It really is the dinner of champions.
London Pleasure Gardens launches tomorrow, Saturday 30 June, with a free festival. Find out more.
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Image by Caroline True.