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Twin image: Hackney, London & Austin, Texas

Posted 25th May 2013

They’re 5,000 miles apart but leaders in Austin Texas and Hackney are determined to create a relationship that benefits both communities. With creativity, music, the tech industry and endless enthusiasm in common, the relationship is already bearing fruit.

This week Hackney welcomed ambassadors of the Austin business community, visiting to find out about developments in Tech City, Hackney’s fast-expanding digital hub. A natural stop-off during the trip was Hackney Community College, which is developing a unique Tech City Apprenticeship. This initiative is helping Tech City companies to tap into the talent of Hackney’s young people.

To mark the occasion, 17 year old Hackney student Hafezur Miah produced a thought-provoking artwork depicting the similarities between Hackney and its American twin.


L-R HCC’s media tutor Pete Masella and principal Ian Ashman, Austin visitors Shelly Meyer, Fred Schmidt and Sam Shmaps; HCC student Hafezul Miah, Hackney Council business liaison officer Duncan Ray

The BTEC level 3 Creative Media Production student set out to create a visual interpretation of the relationship, deciding to adopt a ‘blind’ effect with panels of images from the two areas.

“I did a lot of research” said Hafezul. “I didn’t know anything about Austin, but now I even know how many bats live under the city’s Congress Bridge, while the top of the bridge is one of the city’s most popular places for people to socialise. I also found out about how Austin Community College compares to Hackney Community College”


The more you look, the more you see: Austin’s Fred Schmidt notes the detail of the work

Hafezul’s tutor, Pete Masella, noted: “This work has got so much to it. The more you look, the more you see. Every time you look at it you notice another detail telling the story of the partnership. There’s music, industry, the colleges and even a nod to the Olympic theme”

Hafezul said that it was a great project to be involved in: “I learnt a lot. Not only about the subject of the work – also about tight deadlines!”

The Hackney Austin Business Friendship Agreement, organised to foster exchange in the areas of high-tech and digital media, the creative industries, economic development, and sustainability, was formalised in the Olympic year of 2012. In March 2013 some of Hackney’s most innovative companies travelled to the States to promote their products at Austin’s SXSW Interactive 2013 festival.


17 year-old Hafezul Miah with his work before the unveiling