Shoreditch means a lot to some and nothing to others. For many, it’s known for being full of trendy, fashionista types and a roaring trade thanks to the infamous Brick Lane markets and the dozens of vintage shops.
For some, like the local shopkeepers, they remember a time when it was full of druggies and prostitutes on street corners. In all fairness, it’s not all that difficult
to imagine even now. For there is always the odd drunken hobo lurking around and a dog trailing behind him without a lead. But even the homeless, are artists.
Thanks to huge investment in the area, the streets are now (sort-of) clean and the area is swarming with tourists at the weekends enjoying the fabulous array of food stalls, market vendors and buzzing cafés. But what about during the week? Is it all mad artists and fashion designers lolling about in the Brick Lane Coffee shop or is everyone sleeping off their mad weekends? Well, it’s a bit of both and a whole lot more.
It does take a while to understand and to appreciate. The famous red bricks of the old Victorian warehouses, tower up some 3-4 stories high. The edgy estates that sit nestled in amongst the shops are always the backdrop to a group of school kids that for some reason, are never in school.
The alleyways are emblazoned with graffiti and there is always the strange accumulation of rubbish adorning the street corners. Sometimes it smells a bit funny too.
I often feel like I’ve just turned up at the aftermath of a friggin good party. Either that or all the homeless drunks sleep here at night. Empty bottles of Vodka sit on the pavement, but then on the same slab of concrete footpath a cryptic clue or quote that makes me giggle. Have I just stepped into Tracey Emin artwork?
Imagining a good picture? You should. It’s awesome. And at least I’ve been honest, for anyone that arrives expecting the Kings Road – Shoreditch is not.Firstly, art. Art is everywhere. Graffiti like you have never seen before; political, beautiful, poignant, thought provoking and often controversial. The way art should be, to stop and make you think.
Funny doorways with no signs, dark steps leading into undiscovered galleries and exhibitions. The cafes are full of really interesting looking people, and they sit their all morning. What do they do exactly? Tattoos, everyone has tattoos. Most people seem to have Mohawks, lots have dogs, and everyone loves art. Art. Did I mention art?
Sculptures, exhibitions and lots of live music. Funny vintage shops, smelling dusty and home to incredible antiques you expect your mum to be excited by. Except its not your mum in the shop – there are teenagers. Teenagers wearing what looks like your grandmothers fur coat. A fur-coat wearing 19 year old, with a Mohawk, carrying a dog with a bandana around its neck.
Are you getting the picture I’m painting for you? Shoreditch is the painting. The people are the paint. You are viewing the art, but whilst you are there you are part of the painting. Mohawk or no Mohawk. Dog or no dog. Tatttoed or no tattoos.
The one question I want to ask everyone here is – what do you do? That, and why does the Nail Art shop on Redchurch Street have a stuffed curled up fox on the chair in the window? I’ve been meaning to ask, but far too embarrassed, as I may be the only fool dumb enough to have gone in and stroked it on my first week thinking it was real. By the way in case you were wondering, the Fox also wears a bandana.
It might just be one of the few places in London where it seems the shopkeepers open when they want to open. They open after they’ve drank their coffee, eaten their cake, graffed a wall, fed the dog and had a nap. I was on my lunch break the other day and man walked out of a sandwich shop bare foot in a dressing gown, (an open dressing gown). He was wearing dirty y-fronts, was covered in mud, his hair was long and he carried a bottle of Lucozade in a wicker basket. No one batted an eyelid.