Brick Lane, Sunday – Cultural Contrasts

london, Thoughts on Life

I had a plan to take some street portraits last weekend.

Plan vs. reality…    Friday late night – no camera, saw lot’s of cool people. Saturday – camera, got soaked in the rain. Sunday – camera, saw no cool people…

But I do have a couple of interesting images to share from Sunday.

The first is a hackney carriage mobile coffee shop. Isn’t it a perfectly cute package of a traditional London icon and modern city culture?

Sometimes I regret the dilution of traditional culture. I remember visiting London when I was really young. The vibe that Camden used to have. The greasy spoon cafe’s. The old vans and cars. The time when London really had it’s own style. Nowadays, huge swathes of London are ‘generic international city’ zones with international chains like Pret etc.

On my last trip to Tokyo I was so annoyed to see a Fernandez & Wells store open in Omotesando. A coffee / light food etc. chain from London. I desperately don’t want to see my favourite parts of my favourite cities diluted to the same look, feel, behaviour, culture.

Development and change is good, but we desperately need to support individual style, culture, small businesses etc. and stop proliferation of generic, bland chains everywhere. There is a place for these in demand businesses, but surely they don’t need to take over every corner of our cities.

Rant over…  :)

As usual around East London I also saw some of the ever changing street art. I saw a load of people taking selfie’s in front of some art below one of the rail bridges near Shoreditch High Street.

I was thinking it’s another interesting contrast. Street art must be at least in part about making an individual statement, customising an otherwise regular wall into something unique.

Are selfie’s not the opposite?

Self portraits that by the nature of the phone camera / angle tend to look similar and are usually taken from a shallow perspective of showing off.

Are selfie’s so unartistic that maybe they become a valid candidate for contemporary art!

OCD photography tip – it’s so important for me to get the bridge line starting from the corner :)

 

 

Tate Modern & East London Canalside

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I had a couple of nice days out recently that I thought I might share with you.

Last year Tate Modern; a famous modern art gallery, expanded with the new ‘Switch House’ wing.

One of the lovely things about Tate Modern is the location; a former power station. It provides a massive space for art and preserves a beautiful and iconic building.

The architecture of the new Switch House wing is quite striking and impressive both inside and out.

London is so full of interesting architecture that I think it’s difficult to create something which stands out, is different, yet is not ugly. I personally like this design, what do you think?

No trip to the Tate is complete without a walk along the Southbank. If you’ve never been the former power station is on the river side in central London.

Some shots of one of my other architecture favourites – The National Gallery and riverside scenes.

I also had a couple of lovely days out in East London recently. I’m in love with the canal walk from Kingsland Road (near Shoreditch); a fashionable bar, gallery, coffee shop area, which goes along past another cool area; Broadway, then alongside the huge and beautiful Victoria Park before arriving at the Olympic Park which has a couple of unique brewery bars in former industrial buildings.

It’s so beautiful there, the next time it’s sunny I’ll go out and take more photos. It’s especially nice to see the spring blossoms and check out the people living in houseboats on the canal.

 

 

Bicycles & Backgrounds

Thoughts on Life

On a walk around Bukchon in Seoul on Monday I spotted a pretty sweet bike and background combo scene. I have a handful of similar shots I like, here they are:

1. Bukchon, Seoul – Red Rims and Autumn Vine Leaves:

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 2. Shoreditch, London: Pink Rims and Graffiti
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Bethnal Green London: Jonestown Coffee Break

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Soho, London: Messenger On A Break

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Kyoto, Japan: Road’Mountain’ Bike Commute

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Kyoto, Japan: Which Way?

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Walk Around Shoreditch

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Edit: 14th Dec 2016: Added some new photos from 2016.

I’d love to take you on a ‘blog photo walk’ around Shoreditch; my favourite parts of East London.

Historically a poor area, with low rents it became a hub for creatives. As can happen the art scene attracted others, prices started to rise and some have been priced out. But, to my mind, it now has a good mix of artists and creature comforts; good apartments, cafes, bars, restaurants, independent galleries and fashion stores.

I say Shoreditch, but I really mean a larger area which includes the north end of Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton and Dalston.

One of the main attractions in Shoreditch is the street art. The following picture showing the girl with the apple is by the French street artist Alice Pasquini:

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I was lucky enough to capture a local artist at work, the following pictures is saki & bitches:

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There’s a lot of street art to be found hidden away on side streets and next to parks. Maps can be found online and some locals operate street art tours.

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The character on the green wall below at eastern curve garden in Dalston and is by a famous artist called Stik, you may have seen his book:

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The art below can no longer be seen now that this area has been developed into new apartments:

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In addition to street art, there are a lot of galleries and studios around Shoreditch. A lot of local businesses are to do with illustration, animation, graphic design etc. If you walk around you can see into some pretty nice offices.

Myartinvest pictured below is a concept gallery where you can buy a share in artwork. Good idea if you can’t afford to buy whole artwork yourself but want to get involved.

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A central point in shoreditch is the overground station. That’s where Boxpark is situated; a container complex with small stores and places to eat. It hosts a mix of smaller independent brands and larger brands trying to catch some of the creative market.

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There are some quite cool places in east london, take for example Shoreditch House – a members club / hotel in a converted warehouse opposite boxpark. The motorbike in the picture is in front of Cowshed Spa which is in Shoreditch House.

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There are lot’s of good places for coffee / cake and chill out in the area. A couple that I like are Fix Coffee and Close-Up Cinema / cafe both pictured.

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I don’t have pictures of all my favourite cafes and bars, but here is a list of places to check out:

– jaguar shoes collective
– attendant
– the hoxton
– ace hotel
– cream
– barbour & parlour
– brick lane coffee
– strongroom

It changes pretty quickly though, so expect new places to pop up and old favourites to close.

Around shoreditch and further up towards Dalston you also have vintage fashion stores and vinyl stores such as Love Vinyl and Blitz

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Cafe, bar and art aside one of the best things about this part of london is the traditional architecture; warehouses and town houses that can be found around brick lane for example.

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December 2016 Update – Additional Photos From 2016

Rivington street; one of the streets with a lot of art and cafes:

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A household goods store with a lovely tiled exterior:

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An extremely expensive chocolate shop, but with a beautiful window message:

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Some more street art by Stik on Rivington street:

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A beautiful sky above Boxpark:

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One of the charismatic local Bar Staff at Translate:

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Inside the pretty well known Cargo nightclub on Rivington Street:

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Jaguar Shoes Collective; my favourite bar which doubles as an art gallery and is disguised as an import fashion store:

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Do people buy their bikes to match up with local street art:

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Another Boxpark pic featuring the new Routemaster bus:

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The pizza often at the recently opened Homeslice. Best single slices of Pizza ever!

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Boxpark during Olympic celebrations.

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One of the many custom bikes you can see around Shoreditch

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Recently closed; Brick Lane Coffee, was one of the well known coffee shops around Brick Lane area, but the owners now run Jonestown Coffee just around the corner (I did the photos on their website!).

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That’s it for now.