Secret London

28 01 2010

Shhhh... it's a secret innit


Secret London seems to be all the rage now, so much so that its lucky we live in such a rich, diverse, myterious place densely packed with sub cultures, undergrounds, ethnic mixologists, secret societies and hidden histories, lets just hope that the supply doesn’t run out any time soon. 

One of my lastest discoveries is a whole Guardian series of interactive guides on London Knowledge, not so much hidden as obviously placed on a website. still there are some interesting themes discussed. The latest one is London locations from films. There’s also hidden architecture, punk in Notting Hill, cycling in South East London and food in Dalston. So Fashionable are ‘hidden’, ‘secret’ places like Dalston that even the Evening Standard is promoting them, using a series of photos of preposterously dressed people as evidence.

Not so secret any more


Have a sneaky peek at the Secret London website. Now if you want to go public with your love of all things secret in London you can also join the inevitable facebook group.


New Europeans and ‘Open See’

17 01 2010

There’s an interesting exhibition of photos and mixed media artwork at the Photographer’s Gallery at the moment – untill the 31st of January.


Open See documents the experiences of people who travel from war torn, socially and economically devastated countries, to make new lives in Europe. They have left often violent, oppressive, poverty-stricken or AIDS ravaged communities, in search of stability and the promise of a better future. Originating from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, these ‘new Europeans’ have met violence and brutality as well as hope and liberation in their new homes.

Since 2003, Magnum photographer Jim Goldberg (b.1953, USA) has been photographing and collecting stories through a range of media: Polaroids, video, written text, ephemera, large and medium format photographs. The exhibition installation reflects his dynamic approach to documentary through dense displays of images, objects and text.

The Polaroids on show have often been defaced and written on by the people they portray. The words and images combine to tell intimate stories of past and present experiences. Faces and features are sometimes scratched out, coloured in, or marked in some way. Larger-scale colour photographs depicting landscapes from the subjects’ countries of origin appear both poetic and dystopic in equal measure. One image shows a young family walking along a sunlit road, while another is of a man standing on a vast rubbish tip holding a dead goat salvaged from the debris.

Part of an ongoing project by Goldberg, Open See confronts us with the realities of migration and the conditions for desiring escape.

Here is the exhibition’s website

Here is a review from the Guardian

London in the Snow

6 01 2010

Talking of Lost London… London is currently in the grips of a proper snow covering – a rarity…

Thousands of people will no doubt be unable to get to work, schools will close causing more chaos for parents, the Guardian has a live blog covering the chaos as if it were a sports event and for some reason is encouraging people to bike to work, somewhat more practically though they have got a series of lovely photos of the snow for people who are ‘working from home’ today to look at. They include this picture of Britain’s biggest snow plough struggling to deal with the snow:

Last time this happened, which was er, last winter, London ground to a halt. This time TfL will be better prepared, wont they? My guess is that transport in London will be utter madness over the next few days. TfL have a live travel news page

Meanwhile as journalists settle back to watch the chaos from the comfort of their offices or homes, news making and breaking is left to the twits who go out in this kind of weather. Someone called Ben Marsh has created a UK Snow Twitter map so that you can find out about the Twits’ fun and games around the country. Trendsmap also has similar local Twitter updates here’s the London map

Lost London

2 01 2010

Lost London, buried London, hidden London, destroyed London… this is a theme I have been thinking about after finding out about an upcoming exhibition at Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath.

“Lost London 1870-1945” Saturday 23 January – Monday 5 April 2010, Entry Free

An exhibition of almost 100 images, many never seen before, to accompany the release of a new book from Transatlantic Publishing with English Heritage, “Lost London 1870 – 1945”.

Telling the story of the lost buildings and streets of London, this exhibition explores why some streets remain yet others have long disappeared from view. Accompanying the images will be two huge wooden Bell Jacks that survive from the bell tower of the long demolished Columbia Market. Depicting a world in transition, from the coaching inns and horse drawn city of the late Victorian age and through the 1920s and 30s to wartime devastation, the book and exhibition provide a unique opportunity to rediscover a “Lost London”.

If you haven’t visited Hampstead Heath or Kenwood House, you definitely must, for the views over London, for the historic house and galleries, a walk in the park, swim in the ponds, picnic (a FiLo picnic in the summer perhaps?)

Lost London… what about London’s Lost Rivers?

The easiest pub quiz question in the world: name a river that flows through London. Answer: the Thames. A somewhat more difficult question: name another river that flows through London. A few might know of the river Lee (or Lea) that springs near Leagrave in Bedfordshire and joins the Thames at Leamouth in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. But how about: name a third river that flows through London? And a fourth, a fifth, a sixth?

London’s Lost Underground Stations?

Then of course there is disappearing London, which was the name of a TV show featuring Suggs, of Londonophile band Madness. I missed the show, but it focused on London Institutions such as telephone boxes, lidos, turkish baths, pubs, caffs, old shops and cinemas which are under threat. You can find some interesting information about some of these places on this website and here or look at the programme’s website.