Art and Grime at Shoreditch High Street
My first ‘brush’ with Shoreditch was when I was a postgraduate student of city design and social science two years back. I was interviewing Bangladeshi business owners at Spitalfields and Bethnal Green – both just off the Shoreditch High Street. That was an intimidating experience, because I was unnerved by the rough surroundings, the scared or shy Bangladeshi women who refused to speak to me, the dawdling men who glared at me and my voice recorder as I exited the shops, and the repetitive mention of youth gangs by everyone I spoke to. But it also piqued my curiosity about the area because I got a whiff of the underground art , fashion and music scene as I walked the streets that day – more of an intruder than a flâneur then; but a flâneurtoday when I walked into Shoreditch High Street with my camera, not to talk or intervene; instead to quietly experience and capture the street and re-tell the story of it here.
One of the first things that strikes you as you walk from Bishopsgate towards Shoreditch High Street is the stark and almost abrupt change in the urban views and the environment – right across a simple traffic signal. The glittering, gleaming City towers over Shoreditch like a benevolent giant, yet how far it feels from you depends on which side of Norton Folgate you are.
The second thing I realised was that I wasn’t the only photographer around.
And then you see it. The dichotomy of the old and new – the feeble signs of gentrification that are trying to come into their own amongst the derelict roughness, and only barely succeeding.
And then there is the quirkiness of street art – where else but the East End?
Right outside the Shoreditch Church, urging you to be…er… rude.
Do keep dropping in. :)