For my Getting Weird Brief, I’ve been looking around my local universe and exploring its history. One part of East London’s history that really interests me is immigration. Over hundreds of years several groups of people have immigrated to the East End, one of the first of these groups was the Huguenots. The French Huguenots escaped persecution during the 16th Century. They were granted sanctuary by King Charles II in 1680 and settled into Spitalfields.
The Huguenots had a huge impact on the Spitalfields, especially the economy. For many years there had been a silk industry of sorts in the area, but with the diligence and skill of Huguenots the industry really thrived. The Spitalfields even became known as Weaver Town. The Huguenots have left a visible mark on the area. Houses, which still remain, are extremely distinctive, with enlarged windows in the attic to let in the maximum light for the weavers. There are also many street names that have a french origin, such as Fournier Street, which was named after George Fournier, a man of Huguenot descent.
For this project I want to tell the story of the Huguenots in a small zine. Ive Started exploring different ways of telling this narrative for my zine and have decided to have very minimal text throughout. focussing primarily on image based story telling. Starting with the Journey from France to England.
I really love the idea of this story being told by the street art the area is known for today so created a quick lino print of bricks. I then used ink and fine liner to create the image of a ship crossing the English channel. I’ve then edited the colours of the bricks in photoshop. Just got to pick one I like…
I really like the blue colours here and the yellow and red!
Whist exploring street art for my getting weird project, I’ve also looked back to collage. Collage is one of my favourite mediums and I love mixing vintage images with patterns created from magazine cut outs, painted and textured papers and even found papers and objects. I really like this one, created from a collected image (from an old workshop, I think.) cut paper petals for the flowers in her hair and pen and ink background.
For my ‘Getting Weird’ brief I want to explore the diverse history of the East End and find something overlooked in our fast paced local universe that relates this history. So I started my research by simply looking around my local area around London Met and reading about the history of this area.
The East End is often considered to be the heart of London, it is a melting pot of different cultures, foods, music and art. Throughout it’s history it has been a place immigration with each group who settled here adding to its vibrant story.
In the 15th Century, before the borough of Tower Hamlets ever existed a road called Whitechapel Lane ran through open fields, it’s name would later be changed to reflect the brick manufacturing in the area becoming known as Brick Lane. In the 17th Century brewing ale and beer came to Brick Lane; notably, the Black Eagle Brewery, founded by the Truman Family. Brick Lane has always been a hotspot for immigration (as it was a cheaper area of London) the first immigrants to arrive where the French Huguenots escaping persecution in the 17th Century. Over the years it also became home to the Jewish and Irish settlers and then Bangladeshi community, who brought with them new customs and foods. The area now being known for some of the best Indian restaurants in London.
Brick Lane is also known for its street art with pieces by Banksy, Milo Tchais, Bom.K and Liliwen, Otto Schade, Louis Masai as well as many others. There are plenty of amazing street art walking tours in the area and some online maps like this one on Inspiring City.
Part of my love of street art its how temporary it is, it’s fast paced and work is often covered or removed in a matter of months. I also love that there is an element of collaboration within the work. Street art can often reflect the feelings of a community, inspired by current events and can even be a means of changing views in our society.
I like the idea that the street in the area could also be “talking walls” and could be used to tell the stories of those who call it home.