A trip to Fixation this week gave me the opportunity to take time out and take a stroll round my old stomping grounds, Hoxton and Shoreditch.
I was a Hoxton resident way back in the early Eighties when the warehouse rave scene was in its infancy. The Daily Reactionary hadn't yet homed in on the underground illegal party scene and on most weekends, a trip to the Bricklayers Arms on Charlotte Road nearly always led to one warehouse party or another.
Back then, Brick Lane was almost entirely populated by Indian restaurants where you could bring your own wine to get round licensing laws. Gilbert and George would often be found dining out here, having strolled round the corner from their base in Fournier Street.
At the time, street artists were mostly confined to the United States. However ,The Grey Organisation, John Foxx, Andrew Heard, David Robilliard and Alistair Thain were amongst the many artists who made use of the semi derelict studio spaces that could be rented or bought in the area at a snip.
Although I've been back many times (alas, The Foundry is no more!), what struck me this time was how the whole area is beginning to lose the grungy edge it once had. Little by little, corporate enterprises have moved in and the process of gentrification is reaching its closing stages.
The proliferation of street art, furniture and clothes stores as well as uber cool galleries has given the area the feel North Kensington (Portobello) once had. Nelly Duff ,The Pure Evil Gallery,The Brick Lane Gallery and even Flowers East in Kingsland Road are all welcome changes.
It can only be a matter of time however, before the property developers carve it all up and make a killing. It will be then that the creative population ups sticks to find cheaper studio spaces as they did in Wapping when the Docklands development took hold. For now, make the most of the vibrant sub culture that exists here ..... the next decade will likely as not see it all move on.
Pure Evil Gallery