A couple of weeks ago in my posting on Ian McEwan’s Neighborhood I mentioned Emily Luxton’s blog. Emily is a British travel writer who travels all over but is stationed in London’s East End. I visited her blog a few days before our trip to get some ideas on ideal places to visit in London, especially for photo walks. Emily keeps all of her local postings in her London archive and I found several interesting articles there, most of which concentrated on the street art of Brick Lane. I found my photo walk!
So as I mentioned in my previous posting I left my wife shopping back at the Spitalfields Market and wandered over to Brick Lane just a few blocks away. I strolled down one side of the street all the way to Osborn Street which connects Brick Lane to Whitechapel and then crossed the street and strolled up the other side all the way to Bethnal Green, all the time peeking down alleyways and side streets to catch all of the graffiti I could.
Remember that I Goat we passed on the way to Spitalfields Market? Well, those immigration waves spilled over Brick Lane and then spread throughout the adjoining neighborhoods that make up the London East End boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney.
Huguenots fleeing persecution from Catholic France in the late 17th century were the first migrants to the area. Then came Irish Catholics in the 1730s. They were followed by Jews (and more Irish) in the 19th century. Today the area is primarily inhabited by Muslims from Bangladesh. There’s a large building on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street that the Huguenots turned into their place of worship. Then the Jews turned it into a synagogue. Now it’s a mosque. In order to maintain their own presence in the area the Anglican Church built Christ Church on Commercial Street between 1714 and 1729.
Some of London’s expert street artists have become world famous and I spotted some classics that Emily mentioned a couple of years ago and are still there. But the place changes constantly and street art is ephemeral, especially the art closest to a Brick Lane sidewalk. One day an artist will produce a masterpiece and the next day a tagger comes by and defaces it. Or maybe a property owner paints over it.
The old Truman Brewery is the site of the Backyard Market that booms on Brick Lane on weekends. People flock here to shop and to taste the exotic Bengali food. There is also a Jewish bakery still in the area called Beigel Bake that is famous for its bagels.
I guess thirty photos is enough for the day. I’ll post some more photos tomorrow.