This year the studio will be looking inwards rather than outwards. At a time when others strive to invent the new on the edges of our city, we will challenge the edge within and strive to repair and reconnect the inner city. The beauty of our city stares at us but is sometimes hidden by the scars of time and the unwillingness to re-create within the realm of our historic backdrop. The shock of the old is too much work for most so it is often ignored and forgotten. Limehouse was one of Victorian London’s most important and successful districts. As the birth of modern globalisation took hold in the mid 1800’s, Limehouse was on the front line, serving the great trading ships of the time. Communities sprung up around the docks welcoming the new immigrants to Britain, feeding the appetite of the explorers.
It was one of the first diverse cultural trading areas in Europe celebrating global trade and fare; one end of the original information superhighway of the seas. It was said that “the East squtted at the portal of the West’ in Limehouse, the home of the original Chinatown, before it moved to Soho after the war.
Foreign workers were prized and able to demand higher wages than their British counterparts thanks to their invaluable knowledge of far off lands.
HV Morton the famous travel essayist and journalist wrote about Limehouse in his book ‘The Nights of London’ in 1926:The squalor of Limehouse is that strange squalor of the East which seems to conceal vicious splendour. There is an air of something unrevealed in those narrow streets of shuttered houses, each one of which appears to be hugging its own dreadful little secret... you might open a filthy door and find yourself in a palace sweet with joss-sticks, where queer things happen in a mist of smoke...The silence grips you, almost persuading you that behind it is something which you are always on the verge of discovering; some mystery of vice or of beauty, or of terror and cruelty.
‘Limehouse has closer links with the river than the roads.’
Limehouse is literally cut by the canal ; the Limehouse Cut, the Commercial Road and West India Dock Road.
In medieval times, when first established, Limehouse was cut off from the land by wet marshes and bogs. Today it is cut off from itself by the main transport and physical arteries. Each side offering vastly different versions of life exaggerating the fortunes of the area.
South of the West India Dock Road, the glistening glass towers of Canary Wharf boast financial success, the part closed roads welcoming only those who fit the bill.
South of Commercial Road the lofts of Wapping house millionaires overlook the river, Narrow Street, filled with bistros and little else.
The surrounding areas meanwhile, a pocket of life struggling for a foothold, this is our site. This pocket is located south of the Limehouse Cut, north of the Commercial Road and West of Burdett/ East India Dock Road. This area survives, sitting amongst some of the most beautiful buildings in East London, empty and rotting, forgotten and sad. The council has located many of societies outcasts in this once proud high street, community housing full of tired alcoholics, young families with drug issues and the re-housed socially bereft.
Private View: Tuesday 10th June 6-10pm
Opening times: Wednesday 11th - Saturday 21st June
Central House (3rd floor)
59-63 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7PF (see map)
|Malika El Boukili|
|Garcia Troy Mushiya|
|Ryan Francis Davies|
|Navid Esgandar Zadeh Fard|
Anna Lena Laufenberg