Brick Lane

Brick Lane, London
I had to go to Brick Lane. I used to come here twenty years ago when I was a student at Queen Mary, in nearby Mile End, usually after performing in a play, for curry and fairly decent amounts of wine or beer. This time I wasn’t here for curry (much as I wanted some), no this time I was here for Classic Football Shirts. I’ve followed Classic Football Shirts online a for a few years, they sell old football shirts, and last year after they had an exhibition in London I visited their pop-up store in Shoreditch. Now they have a more regular store in Brick Lane, well organized and full of absolute gems. A real treasure-trove of old footy kits, which for someone like me who is obsessed with them is the best thing ever. Most of the really interesting old ones were a bit out of my budget (tempted though I was by the early 1990s Northern Ireland Umbro kit with the weird triangular pattern, and the light blue Spurs 1992 third kit), but I did pick up for twenty quid an Accra Hearts of Oak home kit from Ghana, which I’d been looking for. I like their stripes. Contented with all football kit conversation with one of the guys who run the place, I started to head off back to Burnt Oak, but decided that I could not leave without a sketch. It was a lovely day to be out and about. So I stood on the corner of Hanbury Street and drew. There are lots of artistic murals and colourful shop fronts around here now. I walked through Spitalfields on the way back to Liverpool Street tube, the whole area being very, very different from when I was last here in 2013 for the Jack the Ripper sketchcrawl (it was that long ago? I’m going to have to do a sketchcrawl commemorating the sketchcrawl). And of course, all the new skyscrapers that have sprouted up in the past decade or so, I did one very quick sketch in pencil, and I was going to add paint (not ink) but ended up not doing so. London’s great, isn’t it. I could draw every inch of it, given the chance.

City of London in pencil

 

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sketching jack’s london: part 2, aldgate east – brick lane

Aldgate East
After sketching the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, I walked down to Aldgate East, and stood opposite the magnificent building above the station, and the lovely Whitechapel Art Gallery. I didn’t have time to go inside, but I have been before, like twenty years ago. Traffic was heavy on the street, this being rush hour on the outskirts of the City. I thought I might spot some of the other sketchers on the ‘crawl, but I did not; everyone had already headed towards Spitalfields. I did bump into one other sketcher while sketching this.

Aldgate East
Then, up to Brick Lane. Brick Lane is more commonly thought of these days as the hangout of hipsters, but thankfully much of the street was still devoted to the greatest thing in Britain – curry. This is the heart of “Bangla Town” – there is a large Bengali and Bangladeshi community around here – and many street signs are doubled in Bengali. When I was studying up in Mile End in the late nineties I would come up here fairly regularly for a curry, and often to this very place, the Standard Balti House (as well as the Curry Bazaar, a few doors up, and also still there). I met with another urban sketcher, Isabelle Laliberte, and we sat on the street opposite sketching away at the old brick and colourful signage, while employees from each curry house tried to entice people in, as they’ve always done. And yet, I did not have a curry! Can you believe it? It was a hot day, and I just wasn’t feeling hungry. I come thousands of miles to get to Brick Lane, and I end up not fancying a curry. Something is wrong with me! Maybe next time, when it’s cold outside…

Brick Lane

More Jack’s London sketches and photos to come…