The intersection of humanity

There is so much to do and see in London. I love living here and am so grateful for the many reasons I find to be delighted on a daily basis. Most of these moments happen when I go slightly off-piste – when I take a variation of my regular route or sit on the other side of the bus or just look left instead of to my regular right. Sometimes something unexpected crosses my usual path and recently I came across some old photos that reminded me of just how delightful it is when this happens.

Back in 2015, I’d been going to the V&A Museum every couple of months (for exhibitions, talks and a rather fabulous book group). The building sprawls grandly on one corner of the intersection of Exhibition and Cromwell Roads opposite the gingham brickwork of the Natural History Museum and the wedding cake pillars of the Science Museum. During the day, taxis zoom past with gusto and excited school groups are herded about in seething clumps. On weekends and school holidays, a human tide of families – with their flotilla of pushchairs and strollers – ebb and flow through the four crosswalks.

It’s an intersection I’d come to know well – a place devoid of monument yet thrumming with humanity, anticipation and movement. So imagine my surprise when I turned up one November evening to find this…

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A moving tribute

Last week I went to see Tom Piper speak at the V&A Museum. Tom is a British theatre designer who has collaborated with the likes of Sam Mendes, Kevin Spacey, Michael Boyd and the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company). His talk covered a range of his theatrical projects and it was fascinating to hear how he has approached the transformation of theatrical spaces as well as different iterations of the same play for different directors.

However for the majority of us attending, he is most well-known for the ‘poppies project’.

In 2014, 888,246 ceramic poppies were planted in the moat surrounding the Tower of London to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Britain’s involvement in World War I.

A collaboration between Tom and Derby-based ceramic artist Paul Cummins (who originally approached the Tower of London about filling the moat with his ceramic blooms), the poppies were planted by 21,000 volunteers between July and November to create the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation. After the event, the poppies were packed into commemorative boxes and sold for £25 each with the proceeds going to the six affiliated charities: SSAFA, The Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes, Coming Home, Combat Stress and Cobseo.

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The presentation box for the ceramic poppies.

Tom shared how the project came about, the meeting of minds and synergy of different talents between he and Paul, the logistical challenges of the installation (there was a point where they ran out of poppies) and how unexpected the public response was.

What I didn’t know was that two of the features from the installation – Weeping Window and Wave – have gone on to have a life of their own. Since their departure from the Tower, there have been a further seven installations with Weeping Window finishing its 2016 run at Caernarfon Castle in North Wales in November.

(Please excuse the quality of the images peeps – I was taking them from Tom’s slideshow!)

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Tom talks about the roadshow of Weeping Window (pictured) and Wave that continues around the UK.

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Ceramic poppies in situ

 

Weeping Window will visit four new locations in 2017 with Wave scheduled to be installed at a further two so if you are planning to be out and about – and you are interested – you can find out where here. From what I can see, the locations chosen are free to visit but all suggest booking so that the number of people to be accommodated can be managed.

I didn’t get to see the installation when it was at the Tower of London but I was absolutely astounded at the impact it had. Nightly news stories charted the progress in filling the moat, the visits by a whole range of dignitaries and the mounting public hysteria – with closures at nearby tube stations due to over-crowding – as the installation neared its completion and eventual dismantling.

I love that this installation continues to be so accessible. It feels a lot like street art to me – usually a combination of a ‘surprise’ appearance and a powerful statement – but on an entirely different scale and I am wondering whether I can manage a visit to any of the locations touted for next year.

War inflicts terrible losses on individuals, families, communities and society-at-large but in spite of it all, life does go on and I am so pleased that this moving tribute has been resuscitated again and again, and continues to honour those who give so much for their country.

A heavy heart

As you’ve probably noticed, the last few weeks in the UK have been full of the debate between Bremain and Brexit. Even in the aftermath of Friday’s announcement – that the UK had voted to leave the EU – the caterwauling on both sides has continued, the Prime Minister has resigned and no-one seems particularly keen to lead the UK into this next stage of its history. Not even the victorious Brexit camp.

But in the background of all of this, I’ve been dealing with a separation of my own. You see, the company I’ve been working for over the last five and a half years is being bought by one of our competitors and by this time next week, it will no longer exist.

It’s been a very long process – almost a year and a half – so it’s not a shock and work have been enormously supportive throughout, despite not being in the ‘driver’s seat’ so to speak. And different people are being affected in different ways: Some will continue on in their current jobs whilst others will move to take on opportunities in the ‘new’ company. Then there are those who will leave.

This is the case for the majority of people who work in the office where I am based. By the end of next week, there will be significantly fewer of us at our desks – working handovers or waiting to transition to new roles and/or locations over the coming months. The farewells have already started to trickle in as have the packing of desks into boxes to be despatched to whatever new location awaits them.

The office will feel like a very different place.

I’ve felt largely philosophical about all of the ups and downs over the last 18 months. After all I quite like change, I’ve been through corporate changes like this before and I try to take a pragmatic approach, focusing on the things I can affect and exercising a little compassion for myself when the going gets tough (although I often need a little reminder about the compassion bit). The chance to create what’s next is both exciting and scary in equal measure – I’ve been talking to all sorts of people about different paths I might take and some opportunities to learn which has helped to keep me energised and curious over such a long time of feeling like life is ‘on hold’.

Yet in the last week, my equilibrium has been shaken by the prospect that the community with whom I spend a large proportion of my life will disappear. Yes, that is what will happen on Friday. People that I see every day, that I chat with over lunch or at the photocopier, those who I have come to know better through facing this period of uncertainty together – will simply stop coming to the office. And I know that I’ll move on, I’ll keep some friendships going and it will all be a period that I look back on with fondness and a sense of camaraderie.

But in the meantime, the goodbyes will be tough….but also a pause for me to acknowledge what’s been before setting out on what’s next. So while I’m going into next week feeling excited about the future, it will be with a heavy heart and I’ll be reminding myself to be kind, to celebrate and to look for a few moments of joy to get me through…

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Yesterday’s moment of joy: Street art under the Kilburn Underground Station railway bridge

…so feel free to send any such moments you may find this week in this direction.

The story of Spitalfields

I love discovering London’s hidden stories and last Saturday I joined Blue Badge Guide Paula Cooze to discover to the story of Spitalfields.

It’s not the first time I’ve ‘toured’ with Paula, having started my fan-dom in September 2013 in the shoes of Matthew Shardlake followed by an architectural wander around the City four months later and then an amble around the Globe mid 2014.

So you can see that it’s been some time since a missive from Paula has found its way into my inbox and it was perfectly timed as Spitalfields is an area I brushed past earlier in the year and I have been itching to do ‘more’.

Wave after wave of immigration has shaped this gritty pocket of London and what was once slum housing and dangerous streets, has become regarded as one London’s places to be. In fact the gentrification of Spitalfields is fostering considerable debate and even protest, the most recent being the attack on the Cereal Killer Cafe at the top end of Brick Lane in September.

It’s a part of London bursting with expression, riven with side streets and alleyways and clothed in a patchwork of colour and smell. I was so excited that, in babbling on about it to friends after I’d booked my place, I actually inspired a couple of them to come along.

Spitalfields was named for the priory of St Mary Spittel, founded in 1197 in a field right next to the site of the current market. The area lay just outside the walls of the City of London and attracted many merchants and craftsman who were not part of the restrictive City Guilds operating inside the walls.

The multicultural history of Spitalfields is steeped in the ‘rag trade‘ and a fitting place to start our trip down memory lane was with a visit to Petticoat Lane. This street – now called Middlesex Street – was home to many Spanish immigrants in the early 17th century and although the famous market was only formalised in the 1930s, it has always been the place to come for cheap, second-hand clothing.

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The Huguenot silk weavers arrived in the late 1600’s to capitalise on the area’s burgeoning reputation as a garment district and were followed in the early 1800’s by the Jews fleeing the pogroms in Russia. Both fled persecution with little but their trade and so their sewing machines were a life-line, the only way for them to earn a living and survive each day in this then slum-ridden part of London.

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This beautifully preserved silk weaver’s shop and residence in Raven Row is now an art gallery so you can take a wander through to see how the more affluent lived in the past and how the locals are expressing themselves today.

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When we turned around from the silk weaver’s windows, Paula pointed out this controversial facade running along the back of Lilian Knowles House.

We headed down Artillery Row – the name a nod to King Henry VIII’s gifting of the area to the military during his reign in the 16th century – turned left into Crispin Street and passed alongside the Providence Row Night Refuge (now called Lilian Knowles House). It was here that Paula added yet another immigrant community to her story – the Irish, arriving in the mid 1700’s with their dreams of escaping the potato famine in Ireland to build a brand new life in America. The majority could not afford the dream and so stopped where the money ran out – in London.

We walked around past the ‘new’ frontage of Spitalfields market, stopping to admire number 40 Brushfield Street. Verde & Company Ltd is a tribute to both the slow food movement and the history of the area – Paula mentioned that author Jeanette Winterson is one of the owners…and that a hot chocolate will set you back about £5. (Just as well the more affordable – not by much – Patisserie Valerie is across the road.)

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We then turned right to head north(ish) though Bishops Square, pausing at the old Huguenot silk weaver’s residence at 18 Folgate Street (which has been painstakingly restored by Dennis Severs – pundits really rate the multi-sensory tour)…

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…and with a quick left down the alley at the end of Blossom Street (the most inappropriate name for a street ever), we emerged at the bottom end of Shoreditch High Street. Ambling along Bethnal Green Road and back down to Brick Lane Paula explained to us a little about the street art scene.

Locksmith

This commissioned street art adorns a local locksmith on Bethnal Green Road. That’s the entrance on the right painted as the opening of a vault.

still there

Nice to see two of my favourites from my walking tour through Shoreditch in June – Gregos on the left and Ronzo on the right.

Locals

Life imitating art? Or is it the other way around….

Transport

Street art frames transportation for the young…while this Vespa was one of many I saw, perhaps appealing to the young at heart?

After cutting through the Old Truman Brewery complex and along Commercial Road (this is the side of Spitalfields Market that has had its original facia preserved), we made our way down Wilkes Street – where Keira Knightley‘s pad is up for sale – and into Fournier Street.

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Keira’s townhouse has been up for sale for a while – I’m not sure whether it’s the price (the guide price on rightmove.com is a paltry £3 million) or the purple that’s deterring prospective buyers…

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Wonderfully preserved buildings along Fournier Street.

And it’s here that Paula told the last of her stories and bade us all farewell. Another great tour from Paula – done.

It’s extraordinary to think that we spent a story-packed couple of hours in such a small area – here’s a rough map of our route…

Spitalfields Walking Tour map

So I’d really encourage you to have a look around the area for yourself – I’ll be checking out a visit to Dennis Severs’ house to really immerse myself in history.

But really, to get the full story, you’ll have to wait – perhaps patiently – for the next time Paula crosses the city.

If street art ruled the world

Yesterday I went on a street art walking tour through London’s East End.

Inspired by the discovery of Hosier Lane in Melbourne during my visit with loved ones Down Under, I’ve been keen to explore more on this side of the world since my return in January.

At 10am on a lovely sunny Saturday in London, about twenty-five of us met our guide, Dave, at the Goat Statue at Spitalfields market. This is the goat, not Dave…

The Goat Statue

As we meandered towards the church, Dave gave us a bit of an introduction to street art/graffiti and the emergence of London’s street art culture. He also explained that given the temporary nature of street art, the myriad of stickers on lamp posts and other street furniture can serve as a handy guide as to who’s been contributing to the urban art scene in the area at any particular time – a bit like passport control for those in the ‘street art’ know.

The example below shows the iconic winged figure of well-known artist D*face in sticker form in Brushfield Street and then his installation in the Old Truman Brewery Complex.

DfaceWe turned right at the church then took a left into Fashion Street and that’s when things really started to happen…here’s Dave introducing us to three different styles and artists – more on some of these later.

Dave in Fashion Street

I did find the bike image stenciled onto the road particularly amusing in this picture – the urban art scene rails against the things that the establishment tells us we must do (like staying in the bike lane?).

This is probably a good point to address the questions of ‘what is street art’ and ‘how is it different from graffiti’.

According to Dave, the definitions are many and varied but for him, graffiti (below left) is created for the appreciation of the urban art community who can, for example, really appreciate the intricacies of a tag. Street art (below right) is created with a wider audience in mind – Dave told us to “think of images you might consider being on a t-shirt or as a piece of art in your home”.

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Both might consist of painting, stickers, paste ups or other types of ‘installations’  and both can be done with or without permission. But after seeing a few works in progress, I was left with the over-riding premise of street art/graffiti being both temporary and accessible in nature despite permissions granted – check out the works in progress below.

WIP

We wandered along Fashion Street, learning about different techniques as we went. Below are some examples of paste-ups – where the artist has completed the image elsewhere prior to pasting it on the walls. The top left image was created using screen printing for the main image with the coloured smoke added in situ.

Paste Ups

You can also see the temporary nature of urban art at work here with the later addition of the ‘cat chariot’ to the bottom of the original piece, a practice we saw a lot throughout the tour. Another common practice is for artists to spread their work in an area to make their mark – we saw two more of the ‘cat chariot’ further along Fashion Street and more scattered along our walking route.

An artist currently distributing himself throughout the area is Gregos. He’s a French sculptor who creates painted molds of his own face. He has installed two batches of these in London so far.

Gregos

We saw these three on our route, ‘stayers’ from his last batch of fifty earlier this year. (Dave assures us that having met Gregos, this really is his face.)

Speaking of sticking things on the wall, there were loads of other things to find if you kept your eyes peeledStuck on

The piggy you can see in the photo top left is part of a series by Love Piepenbrinck. We found them in all sorts of places and while we thought they were cute, it would appear that the urban artists themselves are quite enamoured of this idea. We found a number of works had been created around the little sculpture, leaving the ensconced piggy right where it was – maybe Piepenbrinck’s piggies will mark an era of (semi-) permanence?

The other pictures are just different examples that appealed to me: Eeyore perching gloomily amongst a frenetic background, the mirrored cloud that changed depending on my angle of reflection (pardon the pun –  couldn’t help it!) and the urban tweetie attached to a council sign.

This next image was quite stunning and really struck me with all of its purple and turquoise hues. Dave confirmed here that the artist had been granted permission (by the owner of the wall, not the council) to paint here.

Purple woman

However, what was even more amazing is that this was all painted with spray cans. Can you imagine trying to create this kind of delicate imagery with a set of spray cans? (I probably couldn’t even manage it with a paint brush). It gave me a new appreciation of the talent of these artists. Here are some more ‘girls’ I particularly liked…

Women

One of the elements of street art is the speed and ‘furtiveness’ required as most is completed without permission. One of the techniques used to aid this is stenciling (Banksy is a well-known exponent of this). The image on the right is painted on the door of a barber shop and so whilst the artist had probably obtained permission, this intricate portrait was still created using a whole series of stencils.

We saw some great commemorative art as well. Joe’s Kid (below left) actually runs the coffee shop that owns the wall and Charlie Burns (below right) ran the business whose shutters are right next to his image.

generations

The Charlie Burns image also embodies the dripping effect evident in much street art – let’s face it, if you’re trying not to get caught, you don’t spend time dabbing at the drips! In this case the artist, Ben Slow has used it to effect on the left hand side of the image and then merged into photo-realism as he moved towards the right.

And the piece below – just off Bethnal Green Road – is by Citizen Kane (CZK) and commemorates the suicide of his son in 2013.

Citizen Kane

Street artists are also known for their strong anti-authority philosophies and these next two are great examples of taking a humorous and well-aimed poke at the establishment.

Ronzo is a German artist and his style is typified by the bulging eyes and the tombstone teeth of his monsters.  We saw the rainbow image earlier in Fashion Street. On the right you can see Crunchy, The Credit Crunch Monster, Ronzo’s mascot for the global financial crisis, in the Old Truman Brewery complex while the City of Ronzo crest was on the railway bridge at the top end of Brick Lane. This guy gets around…

Ronzo

Frenchman Clet Abraham is another exponent of thumbing one’s nose at authority and uses his witty imagery on existing ‘displays of authority’ (street signs) to make his particular mark.

street signs

Nathan Bowen is yet another using his art to make a statement. Using marker pens in his signature style, he makes this plea for peace in Syria below.

Nathan Bowen

Conor Harrington‘s work also appeared in a couple of different places along the way…

Conor Harrington

…and he also worked with U2 on Crystal Ballroom, part of their Songs of Innocence project. (He’s the artist in the video.)

No street art tour – of London anyway – would be complete without Banksy so we snuck through the gates of Shoreditch nightclub Cargo to see this…

Banksy

Yes, it is behind perspex but while not in the temporary and accessible spirit of street art, I’m pretty glad I got to see a real Banksy. And yes, his real identity remains a mystery, even to Dave. (There’s more street art in Cargo – even another Banksy so might be worth popping down to Rivington Street.)

There was so much more on this almost 4 hour tour and it gave me a new appreciation for both this pocket of East London – about which I knew very little – and the urban art scene – about which I knew even less. I didn’t like everything – probably only half of what I saw really appealed to me but it’s interesting how with a little bit of background, the whole genre opened up and became absolutely fascinating.

And let’s face it, if street art ruled the world, there’d be a whole lot more of this…

Coloured walls

…and for my part, that just adds some welcome colour to a day.

If you are in London and fancy a bit of urban art for yourself, check out Shoreditch Street Art Tours – Dave is obviously a guy ‘in the know’ and for just £15, it makes for a pretty cost-effective and entertaining education!

Old places, new faces

I spent a couple of weeks in Melbourne with family over the Christmas/New Year period and one of the things that I love to do (and miss) is hang out with my sister. There are the things we girls traditionally do – shopping, manipedis and generally hanging out over coffee (and I was reminded once again that Melbourne has the best coffee in the world) – and then there are the moments of ‘inspiration’ subject to how we are feeling at the time.

We were off to partake in a musical favourite of mine, Grease. I know every word and every song (having played Frenchie in our high school production) so I was looking forward to an afternoon of energetic A-Wop-Boppa-Looma-A-Wop-Bam-Boom-ing. And it was on the way to the theatre that I stumbled across a distinctly different face of Melbourne.

Hosier Lane is a cut through between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane alongside the Forum Theatre. It is an unexpected riot of vibrant colour and expression in the midst of the area’s architectural melting pot of gothic (St Paul’s Cathedral), Moorish Revival (Forum theatre), French Renaissance (Flinders Street Station) and contemporary (Federation Square) styles. I could not stop myself from whipping out my phone in an attempt – let’s face it, these things are never as good ‘on film’ – to capture its brilliance.

Hosier Lane 1

We made our way along the alley, the air littered with ‘ooohs’, ‘aaahs’ and the subtle snap of selfies. My head swivelled touristically from side to side to admire each urban canvas and as I meandered along the cobbles with the other Sunday strollers, what struck me most was the how vividly the character of each of Hosier’s painted residents had been brought to life.

Hosier Lane 2

Are any of you old enough to remember this young lady from The Wacky Races

Hosier Lane 3

…or youthful enough to know this ‘lovable’ pair from Monsters Inc.?

Hosier Lane 4

Hosier Lane 5

I have been told that shoes hanging from a light indicates where one can score a fix…or is this just an urban myth?

Hosier Lane 6

I would not like to meet this dude in a darkened alley, alone or otherwise…

Hosier Lane 7

…although the location nearby of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, could be considered fortuitous.

Hosier Lane 8

And last but certainly not least, a look skyward evoked the spirit of Australia’s indigenous past.

Hosier Lane 9

Street art continues its emergence as the next ‘big thing’ and a quick google on the way home from the theatre yielded both a list of sites to visit and the hows and wherefores of getting your particular expression of self into Melbourne’s urban spaces.

Unfortunately, we did not get to any of the others during my sojourn Down Under but it has inspired me to look for even more of this in London having browsed Brixton’s backstreets last year. And it would appear – according to a range of stuff-to-do sources that drop into my Inbox on a fairly regular basis – that East London is the current jewel in this city’s urban art crown.

So stay tuned…Shoreditch, here I come!

My Backyard…B Is For Brixton

Having returned from playing away in Abu Dhabi for a week, it was time to play a little closer to home again so this morning I was up and on the way to Brixton for another ‘backyard’ walking tour. 

Brixton is in South London and being most notable for the Brixton Riots in 1981, it’s an area of London that it’s fair to say has been somewhat tainted by its turbulent past. But the area is also one of those ‘up-and-coming’ parts of London as home buyers seeking lower property prices move outwards from the city while still remaining in commuting range. In fact it’s one of the things that surprised me today – how near Brixton is to central London. (I thought it was much further out!) 

Anyway our small group met at the Ritzy Cinema at 11am and headed down Coldharbour Lane to the frontline of the 1981 Riots at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue.


After a bit of background on the Riots from our guide Angela, we continued down Coldharbour Lane a little further to see Nuclear DawnThis extraordinary mural was painted by Brian Barnes and finished in 1981. It features a large skeleton swathed in the flags of nations who had nuclear weapons at the time and paints a grimly powerful portrait of politics and the Cold War during the late 70s/early 80s. 


Turning away from the mural, we faced Southwyck House – also known as Brixton’s Barrier Block – an unusual building featuring the Brutalist architectural style common of the period in which it was built. 


The Barrier Block has played a controversial role in Brixton’s history. The other side of the building features large windows and balconies and has been home to one of the world’s most famous artists, Damien Hirst. Ex Prime Minister John Major lived briefly in Brixton and his support for the demolition of the block later in his career was more than a little undermined by the fact his Planning Committee had approved its construction. Oops!

Our next stop was Brixton Village, a series of markets accessed through an entrance across Coldharbour Lane from the Nuclear Dawn mural. Fascinatingly enough, our short dash across the road was peppered with more art from the locals…

French street artist Space Invader leaves his mark at the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Atlantic Avenue.
Bee (top left) can be found at the intersection of Coldharbour Lane and Atlantic Avenue as can the image bottom right. The image top right was right near Nuclear Dawn and ‘B Our Guest’ adorns the railway bridge over Brixton Hill.
Lucy’ Casson’s Foxes and Cherries sculpture (top left) adorns the roof on the corner of Electric Lane and Electric Avenue; bottom left – collaborative mural near the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Coldharbour Lane; right – an homage to Brixton-born David Bowie (or David Robert Jones as he was christened) painted by Australian street artist James Cochrane.

Brixton Village was traditionally a food market where the local Caribbean community would buy fresh produce, particularly specialities like ackee, plantain, yams and salt fish.

On our little tour, I got a bit of an education about Caribbean cuisine, also finding flying fish (top left) – which I saw flying several years ago on a trip to Tobago – and breadfruit (bottom left). The biggest surprise came when I was introduced to chow chow, which I knew as choko growing up in Australia! We also laughed at the ubiquity of Milo (a malted chocolate powder that we add to big glasses of milk) in both the Caribbean and Australia – how strange that such similarities exist between islands so far away from each other.

The produce stalls are far fewer and the markets have been taken over by restaurants and cafes. It was fairly quiet as we walked through but you could just imagine the little lanes buzzing with the energy and chatter of lunchtime or after work crowds.

Clockwise from top left: Traditional Caribbean fare from Fish, Wings and Tings; enjoy a tipple and nibble at Champagne and Fromage; tuck in to morsels from the sea at Etta’s Seafood Kitchen; beat the crowds for a cuppa at Federation Cafe, graced in the past by none other than Hollywood star, Will Smith.

Emerging from the markets it was a short walk down to Electric Avenue – yes the one made famous by the Eddy Grant song.

Electric Avenue, so named as it was the first market street to receive electric lighting. Bottom left: Healthy Eaters’ delivery vehicles feature the names of prominent locals.

Further down Electric Avenue, we found Brixton Speaks an installation on the wall of the Iceland store. Created by author Will Self, Brixton Speaks pays homage to the unique Caribbean patois of the area. Click here for a much better photo! This was also the site where a nail-bomb exploded in 1999 injuring 39 people.


Turning right onto Brixton Hill we walked under the railway bridges to visit our next point of interest, the Ricky Bishop Memorial TreeRicky Bishop was taken into police custody in 2001 and was later admitted to hospital with unexplained injuries. The tree serves as a poignant reminder of the still-fractious relationship between the community and the local police.

We crossed over Brixton Hill and spent about 20 minutes away from the cacophony of the high street.

Left: emergiing from Stockwell Avenue between the twin buildings of Bon Marche, London’s first purpose built department store; top right: the Grade II listed Brixton Academy which started life as the Astoria Theatre in 1929; bottom right: Trinity House on Acre Lane, Georgian architecture preserved since 1822.
Life in a leafy Brixton Square: a two bedroom (top right) will set you back at least £750,000 but you can always drown your sorrows at the Trinity Arms (bottom right).

With that we headed out onto Acre Lane and wandered back to the Ritzy Cinema. 

Nursing my hot chocolate on the tube ride home, I felt like I’d barely scratched the surface of this colourful neighbourhood, so different from my own yet discovering so many unexpected similarities in our cultures. And I mused once again at how utterly fascinating this big backyard of mine called London truly is.

Art De Rue…Gidday Goes Walkabout

One of the things I enjoy most about living in London is the diversity of street ‘art’. Whether it’s from a time long gone or more modern mastery, I love the surprise of it as you round some corner and some unexpected express of imagination catches your eye.

Well, I think Paris is the same, a city where old and new mix unapologetic with effortless chic and during my recent sojourn in the City of Lights I really enjoyed walking around and discovering all of its ecclectic self-expression. If you take to the streets like I did, you might just see some of these.

Icons of design in Boulevard Raspail (left) and on the Av des Champs-Élysées (right).

The American Dream, alive and well in Rue Mouffetard (top) and Rue Daunou (bottom).
 
The body beautiful in Rue de la Paix (left) and in St Germain des Prés (right).
 
Tasty treats on Boulevard Haussmann (left) and The King of Hotpots on Rue Vignon (right).
 
Lost art: climbing the walls in Montmarte.

 Security measures near Jardin des Plantes on Rue Linné (left) and Rue de la Paix (right).

Window shopping for (clockwise from top left) wheels on Av de Champs-Élysées, literature on Rue Lepic, macaroons on Rue St-Honoré and glamour at Galeries Lafayette.

So if you are in Paris, get your boots on – you know those ones made for walking – and make sure you keep your eyes peeled. Because these moments of delightful discovery are everywhere…and finding them is like a turn of the kaleidoscope, giving you a glimpse of a different side of this marvellous city.

Colour And Character…

So this is the first Dublin post. But it’s probably not what you expected. There’s no Guinness, no leprechauns, no national heros, no river dancing.

To be honest, I wondered what to post about. While I enjoyed Dublin, I didn’t really have that moment of enchantment, that second that, as I round some corner and go wow, makes me want to return. But as I went through my photos, I realised that I’d managed to capture an unexpected aspect of Dublin’s colour and character…so eyes up people, here we go…

The post boxes are green…

…as are the doors.

But the doors are also pink…

…and red…

…and even orange!

There were elephants (no trip is complete without a nod to the original blog of The Displaced Nation‘s ML Awanohara – Seen The Elephant)…

…plenty of watering holes…

…and a little bit of culture.

These Dubliners do like to paint stuff all over their walls whether it’s a telling a story…

…a nod to generations past…

…or a promise to clean up their act.

Sometimes it gets a little abstract…

…or like pieces of a puzzle.

But as we were on the go for four whole days…

…it was great to find a spot to rest at last…

…under the swaying palm.