East London I have always thought that the
old red bricks
sense of character
identity to the area.
grit of the old brick structures seems to set a perfect backdrop for the graffitied walls, street art, and artist
through the gentrification process the brick structures are being
demolished and replaced by the reflective new surfaces of high rise
developments and luxury apartments. I
quite a few walls on the street in this area and my
from people painting over them but from the walls
being demolished and replaced. The London brick is
I used bricks to refer to the idea of fragmentation and loss of
subject in this work is Mick Taylor who I
had first met in
Brick Lane. I found him to be an inspiring
character with a sense of kindness to his expression and for the
colourful outfits that he wore each day. He has
in Shoreditch for over 50 years and
so has witnessed first hand many of the changes to the area.
painted a portrait of him onto a
bricks of which I then rearranged
into a random collage type
This was to allude to the idea of a fractured identity
and displacement that is happening
due to the gentrification process. I
placed these bricks on the street (just off Brick Lane) and left them
awaiting their fate. I
accompanied Mick down there to show him the work, here photographed
next to the sculpture. The
lasted about two weeks before they were taken.
In another work I painted a portrait of Mick just off Brick Lane (2015) on Bacon Street close to where he used to sit for most of the day. I had taken a photograph of him, cigarette in hand and gazing wistfully afar. On his head, where a hat could have been, I painted a cityscape which was a literal reflection of the Shoreditch area with the old red brick structures being demolished and bulldozed to give way to the new high rise developments and luxury apartments. In the painting Mick looks outward with a certain lament and amusement as the changes take place before him.
Fragments installation view
Decontructed portrait varation
Spray paint on bricks, dimensions variable
Portrait of Mick
Spray paint on canvas, 125x125cm
In a more recent work I have taken the concept from the bricks to cardboard boxes. The idea is the same except with cardboard boxes the scale can be larger and the material is a lot lighter to move around. This work was made for a sculpture show at the Unit 5 gallery in East London for February 2017. I have made paintings on cardboard before and have always liked this material for its colour and textures with the possibilities to tear or mould the material, often adding to and enhancing the painting itself. Cardboard also has a distinct urban association, often seen stacked up outside shop fronts in the evenings or used by homeless people to sleep on. There is a fragility to this material and even this sculpture could be easily knocked over or reassembled. That same precariousness carries over to individual identity that can be formed but also lost within the city.
are positive aspects
to the gentrification
development of the area, which many
would consider as
sign of progress,
there are also
that are lost in this process. Artists
like myself will be forced out of the area due to the increase in
business and other
will also be affected and forced to move or close down due
the steep rise in rates. And
cycle continues - all the artists who helped build the cultural
fabric of the area when it was an undesirable area to live will have to move out further to find areas where they can afford to have a
studio and work. I
am not sure what will happen to the locals such as Mick. I can only hope that a sense of individual character and colour will be
preserved and not lost to the expanding city.
Jimmy. C. Dec 2016
Mick's hands in Brick Lane
This is a painting that I did in September 2017 in Brick Lane, which was inspired by the hands of Mick Taylor. I had been visiting Mick at his appartment in Whitechapel with my friend Hugh, and as he sat on his bed breathing a little more akwardly than usual, I noticed the great character to his hands as he held them there in front of him, the end of a rolled cigarette dangling between the thumb and finger. I asked Hugh to take a photograph, which would become the source image for this painting.
I had been told that Mick's health was in serious decline, which is why I wanted to paint a portrait of him whilst he was still around. I had originally intended to paint a portrait of his face, but when at the last minute I was offered a wall on Brick Lane, near the Beigel shop, exactly where Mick liked to dwell, I decided to go for the hands painting, which fitted well with the format of the wall. (Thank you Steve from Monty's Bar for suggesting the wall). Mick was pleased that I was painting his hands and whilst I worked on the painting he was there at my side enjoying every moment of it. Hugh told me that when he was in hospital before he died, he was still chatting excitedly to the nurses about this painting. I was happy that he had been able to enjoy the work.
Mick passed away in late September 2017, which was a sad loss to all those who knew him, and an overall loss to Brick Lane. My painting still remains for now, a tribute to a wonderful man who had witnessed the transformations of the area before him. 'Be lucky!', he would always say to me. Thank you Mick. You will be missed but not forgotten, and your presence and memory will remain with us in the Lane.
Jimmy. C Nov 2017