The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road is devoted to exhibiting the ‘interiors of the middle classes’. Set within an old almshouse (which is also open on the first Saturday of the month), the long narrow building is ideally suited to its purpose, as you walk the length of it viewing individual rooms set up with furniture starting from the sixteenth century up to a 1990s loft conversion. Continue reading
Tag Archives: shoreditch
Anyone longing for the sea in this humidity will benefit from a visit to the darkened gallery at Rivington Place in Shoreditch. French Algerian artist Zineb Sedira uses photography and video installations to depict the ships’ graveyard on the coast of Mauritiana, the departure point for many north Africans trying to reach Europe. Here, ‘floating coffins’, in the form of abandoned ships, are left to slowly crumble in the heat, and the artist’s recordings of bird calls and the rhythmic sounds of the waves emphasise the loneliness of the place. There are more than 300 ships abandoned here from a time when local officials would accept cash from international companies looking to cheaply offload unwanted vessels.
As well as the still images, which are vividly illuminated on lightboxes, there is video footage of a man carefully paddling out to one of the rusty ships, which provide loot for locals. As the artist says: “Floating Coffins is a space where life, death, loss, escape, abandoned and shipwrecked journeys meet. It’s both a toxic graveyard and a source of survival and hope.”
On at Rivington Place in Shoreditch until July 27. Tel 7749 1240
Redchurch Street used to be a grotty shortcut between Brick Lane and Shoreditch High Street. Recently, though, it’s dusted itself off and had a facelift. There’s Terence Conran’s new shrine to good taste and fat wallets – Boundary Project – a textbook modern British cheffy empire – all vacuum-wrapped blackface lamb and Oxford marmalade and Welsh goat’s cheese.
And just down the road from this is Walluc – one of those candlelit places you peer into while looking for an acceptably quiet bar and go: oooh that looks nice! while up ahead other members of the party get tetchy for their next pint. Continue reading
One of the things that fascinates me most about London is what author Jeanette Winterson calls its invisible lines, where an area suddenly changes its character completely.
The invisible line between the City, or financial district, and Shoreditch is a prime example. One minute you’ll be walking through a sterile landscape of glass and steel offices and their associated spawn – expensive wine bars, conservative shoe shops and sleek chain store food outlets – then suddenly you’re on Shoreditch High Street, walking past galleries, bars, organic food shops, an old church, a cluster of Vietnamese canteens on Kingsland road and all kinds of independent shops selling everything from bathtubs to handbags.
Some places straddle the two worlds – namely the kebab shops and the lap-dancing clubs, but generally the divide is emphatic. The architecture also changes dramatically – Shoreditch is a hive of warehouses, old Victorian buildings and churches, and post-war council housing, while five minutes up the road you’re caged into a landscape of steel and glass, a real urban jungle that’s hard on the feet and the soul.
Interesting, then, that the point at which the two worlds meet has just been re-defined by a rejected planning application. The Light Bar in Shoreditch, a former Victorian power station built in 1893, was going to be demolished to make way for a massive Norman Foster office and housing scheme. Now, after a successful campaign by local residents, businesses and local residents, Hackney Council decided to include the building in the Shoreditch conservation area, thus saving it (for now) from the bulldozers.
More information can be found on The Victorian Society website.