24 January 2012

Finding some nice things in Dalston

Arriving unexpectedly early gave me a bit of time to explore Dalston before the theatre and I love exploring London so that is what I did.

Immediately out of the station is the lively Ridley Road market stuffed with unusual food stuffs including fish arranged by colour, enormous yams and chillies that look as pretty as I am sure they are tasty.

There are a few other stalls too, such as kitchenware, clothes and music but it is mostly food and it is all attractive and very cheap (when compared to my local shops in Richmond).

Following Ridley Road to the end (not a short walk) and then circling round Matalan to the right takes you to Hackney Archives which seems to be a posh name and a posh building for a public library. I approve in principle but it is not that welcoming a name for people trying to get introduced to books for the first time.

Opposite the library is an amazing mural.

This is the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural painted in 1985 to commemorate the 1983 Hackney Peace Carnival.

This is just a part of it but you can feel the excitement and hear the music.

London has a fine tradition of murals, it has more than any other city that I am aware of (there were around a dozen in Brixton when I worked there), and finding a new one is a highlight of any urban exploration.

There are some seats there too so you can sit there for a while and appreciate all of the detail in the picture.

Who could not love this?

The mural also acts as the reception area for one of London's forgotten spaces, the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.

The garden entrance, unlike the library opposite, draws you in expectantly. It's like being a child again following Rupert in to a Cornish cave.

As its name suggests, the garden is an attempt to reclaim a disused railway line for community use.

So many of these areas lie forgotten behind high walls and I welcome their return to life.

This project is in its early days but already the vision of the project is clear and the foundations have been laid to make those dreams come true.

The community use is served by the covered area at one end.

Here children of all ages can gather to learn, play or just sit and enjoy the rest of the garden.

This space feels different from those around it. That feeling seeps in to you and the Victorian city outside recedes from sight and memory.

The planting has only just begun so you have to rely a little on your imagination, and the free leaflet, to anticipate what it will look like once everything is in place. This Summer looks like a good time to go back and see how the work is progressing. It should be warmer too.

The garden also has a fun side.

The industrial walls that enclose and define the shape have not been hidden, instead they have been celebrated as part of the garden.

The painting on the wall is fun and so are the heads hanging on the wall.

By then it was almost time for curtain up (metaphorically speaking, the Arcola theatre does not have a curtain) and time to let this little bit of magic slip away.

This was only a little detour on the way from the station to the theatre but it did enough to convince me to take a longer detour and to linker a little longer in Dalston next time I go to the theatre there.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Matthew, I really enjoyed this article on Dalston. I actually passed Dalston Eastern Curve Garden yesterday on the way to a garden design consultation. I now have to return and actually take a look around, looks like an interesting space, thanks!


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