Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dalston Kingsland

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We were asked to do a shop, show or exhibition review however this is a bit of all three…

I was recommended the area for shopping by a close family friend who lived in London for years when she was younger, although not what I expected it was an interesting place that 1contradicted itself in many ways. I started with the market, a cute but clearly not wealthy place with fruit and veg galore! I even got a free freshly made smoothie, although lovely, far from the professional yet unappeasable smoothie I had bought earlier that week in Camden where the woman asked me not to take pictures (despite if I was to put it on the web it would have been exposed to many more potential costumers) The woman on this stall spoke to me for a while, recommended some shops and let me try out some of her new recepies. 

Unfortunately I was not in Dalston for the food but I had spent the night before looking for places to visit and one of those was a shop just along the high street, on my way there I found so many interesting things to look at including a shop window turned into a exhibition space with just one large work of art on show, there was no way I could see to get in and the lights were all out which I found incredibly strange but yet interesting. dal2The other shop windows, real shops this time were also aesthetically pleasing, including a Turkish cafe called “The cave” which was actually decorated on the outside to look like you were entering a cave. As well as pubs, shops and clubs with exciting and enticing window displays like this one below. 

 1907834_10154622413445078_9009183839624265443_nOne of the places along the way just looked too good not to go in, so I stopped for lunch, chatted to the owner and explored. When I walked in the entire place was like the inside of a pirate ship, and I don’t mean with its decor, I mean the whole body of the room, I had no idea what I had walked into but i couldn’t help but be enticed. It was filled with book, people reading and drinking coffee, on one side of the room there was an old style phone with a note saying you could pick it up, so I did and a voice came on of what sounded like a young girl who told me a bit about herself and the hardships she, at such a young age had already overcome, but it wasn’t sad or depressing, she then told me how she overcame her experiences and how she can now shed light on them, she said this was to help me in my own life, that she wanted me to be happy and stay kind no matter what. I thought she needed my help, thats what it was all about, raising awareness and getting through her own pain, but it turned out she just wanted to brighten my day, someone who didn’t ask for it, that she didn’t even know. It probably sounds silly and is certainly one of those things you have to do for yourself but I was almost in tears stood there in this tiny, strange coffee shop surrounded by strangers, but everyone in the room understood and I didn’t feel embarrassed at the time. I went to the tills to buy some food and ask about what had just happened, and I found out from the very friendly staff that this cafe was used to raise money for a charity called Hackney Pirates and that all of the staff here were volunteers.dal3 The organization was to help children in the surrounding areas to learn when they may not get enough help through school alone. A lot of children have the potential to grow into intelligent young people but are held back by things like dyslexia, trouble in their homes or even just lack of confidence, as well as this, not every child is the same, some need more time than others or to be taught in different ways and with one teacher to 40 kids sadly this isn’t always possible, through no fault of the teacher, its simply a fact of life.

After that emotional ordeal I continued on my adventure and finally ended up in the place I had been in search of all day. A popular vintage shop called Beyond Retro. I walked in the first entrance which lead to yet another interesting and very hipster coffee shop, everything looked like it had been searched for with great care and thought from vintage shops and junk sales. The building had been renovated with exposed plumbing draped in ivy and the original wood floors. dal4It was lovely, however not as homely as I described, the staff were not that friendly and the space was so big it felt cold and eerie. Although I was impressed that a glass or milk was clearly stated on the menu and being the big kid that I am, thats what I ordered. Once I was done relaxing I found my way through to the actual shop, walking into it was like an 8 year old walking into Disneyland for the first time. my mouth wide open and my eyes glittering I began to search through the shockingly organised racks. I found some great buys and the staff in this are were a lot nicer than in the cafe. It was huge and packed full of fun trinkets filled with more fun trinkets. dal5I could have spent the whole day there but unfortunately my credit card was telling me to pay up and get out. I know a vintage shop is different to a charity shop but I was not expecting those prices! I felt the whole place lacked heart and soul, there was no deeper meaning behind it, yet again I know thats silly of me to expect but I do and I don’t feel I found something special in this commercialized heaven. However the experience along with the satisfaction of my new/old clothes was enough for me and I left Dalston £100 down but still with a smile on my face. 

The London Auquarium

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Most people are unaware of this but I am a huge shark fanatic! So when I was offered free tickets to go to the London Aquarium I was obviously overwhelmed and ridiculously excited to go, as where I live sharks are few and far between. aq5It’s situated in Westminster near the rest of the tourist attractions like the London eye and Big Ben however it’s not that well advertised and took a while to find the entrance, as expected they did not allow flash in the exhibition (it can frighten the animals) so unfortunately my pictures are not great, but I hope the next few hundred words can make up for that.aq1

 I found the whole place was really well thought out, an easy to follow lay out with lots of interesting facts and images on the walls, you first walk through a tunnel that has an abundance of sea creatures lurking around above you and beneath your feet. They even adapted the London escalator system so people walking through wouldn’t be held up by tourists taking pictures. They really advertised the meaning behind why the aquarium was built, which for me, as keeping large fish in small tanks is a gray area, felt me feel a lot better about the whole thing, I knew the people working here were doing it for the animals and not for the money. Signs and posters everywhere about awareness, how to keep animals safe and preserve their natural habitat. I felt this was a great thing for young children as its something they will hopefully pick up, all the facts and warning posters were infused with fun cartoons.

 aq2In fact it was a great place for children to learn, as well as adults, as someone who cares a lot about the preservation of the natural world I learned so much for my experience their. However to keep doing what they are doing they still need to make money and one thing they did was face paint! Obviously being the big kid that I am I had to have mine done, the woman who did it was really friendly and spoke to us about her life and how she loved her job which I found nice, she was also very talented, mine was done in a matter of seconds.aq3

Each individual exhibit was different and customized to the animals kept within it. I really could see that the people involved had tried to replicate the environment the creatures were taken from for both the costumer and the animals benefit. As I said earlier the whole idea of an aquarium is a gray area for me and others like me. No one who cares wants to see a huge fish in a small tank, and admittedly when I saw the sharks at the end although mesmerized I did feel bad for them. It’s not what their used to and the tanks they were in were minuscule compared to the vast stretches of ocean they were made for. aq4They had more than one species all together in one tank (which is natural but as most animals including ourselves travel in packs and have families this was quite sad) they all swam round in the same direction the whole time we were there, and we stayed for about an hour just watching these proud and beautiful creatures swim. However, one of the things that the people behind the aquarium do is a breeding program. Where they bread the species to then nurture them until they are old and healthy enough to be let out, free, into the wild with tags so they can keep track of them. This helps so much with keeping then from extinction and I say, if the life of a few can save the life of millions then thats a sacrifice I’m willing to make. 

A visit to the V&A

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This summer we were given a brief to attend 3 exhibitions and review them, I stayed in London for a week visiting family and friends and thought it was a good opportunity to do some research, and obviously who doesn’t love a trip to South Kensington. I caught a tube early so i could make the most of my day and made my way to exhibition street. I don’t know if it was just a nice day but the walk down put me in such a good mood, I even stopped off at a cute book store before I ended up at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’d done my research so I knew the Wedding dress show was on, bought a ticket, £8 with student discount, even though I would have happily paid full price I thought it was considerate that they were so welcoming to students. I decided it best to have a look around before I went into the exhibit although there was way to much to see in one day! Everything was so beautiful and grand, so much attention to detail, even the entrance was amazing. 1453306_10154611742025078_2959559164670773042_n 10616419_10154611739950078_7283664837969274884_n  

As I walked into the show i was faced with the dreaded sign, you know, the one that says “NO PHOTOS” i expected as much, however I was shocked to see another saying “NO SKETCHING” obviously as I felt this was very unreasonable, I ignored it. No one seemed to have a problem, one of the women checking tickets even lent me a pen when mine ran out. 

As I walked round I noticed 10645037_10154611741415078_1558027765794310750_n10625088_10154611741820078_7937896065079207953_nthat although it went in order on one side, on the other side was a completely different time period, where I guess you were meant to walk back round in a loop, but by the time I had figured this out I had given up on sticking with the time line. In this sense I felt it was a but unorganized, I also felt the displays were dark and dim lighted, they didn’t show the gowns in their best light or at their best angle for that matter, as you could only see the area of each dress the way they wanted you too. 

On a lighter note there had the history of each dress within it’s time context next to each display in interesting forms, most just in writing but some in videos or quotes, original letters that linked in as well as stories about how the couple met, lived and died.They also told you about everyone involved, the groom, the bridesmaids and even the dress makers. Mr. Stratton, apparently an exclusive dress maker, designed a dress for a princess of which they displayed the swatches and samples and even the embroidered napkins given to guests as favors. I most enjoyed that in some displays the original illustrations were laid out, this shows the progress made from thought to finish. It moved on to war time dresses where it described in detail the way even the richest of brides would “mend and make do” in a an effort to help the country in it’s time of need. I felt they gave you a lot more than expected in this way, because it was more than just looking at pretty dresses, it was how they have evolved, the people who were affected by them and how important a wedding is to society.

Picture1I later found there was another level to the experience, as I walked upstairs I expected more of the same, but thats not what I got, the space was open and bright, all the dresses were in glass cases that could be walked round. Although nothing was in order up here and there was no clear direction to walk it didn’t really matter. It was much more modern and the dresses were simply breathtaking! Still the stories continued, including one that was about some socialites from the 90’s the groom had married a woman that did not have the same social standing as him, she wore an almost completely backless dress. (which I quite liked) When most men see their bride walking down the isle I like to think they can’t take their eyes of her, they feel lucky to have the most beautiful woman in the room, however this bride groom as reported to have said she was “dressing for the press”. There were a lot of dresses I personally didn’t like and I felt as though some people in the lime light use their wedding as a place to make bold statements and for me, thats not what it should be about in the slightest. However I also saw some dresses that I could only dream of getting married in such as, The Rapunzel by Jenny Packham who is know for dressing people like, Kate Moss and Adel. The dress was embedded with Swarvoski crystal at the top but left more simple at the bottom, it was used in New York shows and inspired by the Edwardian era. Another of my favorites was by Ian Stuart called flower bomb, yet another never actually worn to a wedding, I quite liked the sketch I did of this one and here it is; 

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Although not my cup of tea, I liked that they showed dresses that were a bit more “out there” such as furry Eskimo like capes for December weddings and a plastic looking rain mac, both from the 60’s. This blened in to dresses from other countries such as Spain and even Sri Lanka! I was shocked to see they even included a dress worn for a Sex and the City Vouge photo shoot! However my all time favorite was seeing my first ever Vera Wang in person. I think that is every girls dream and if I haven’t sold you on the exhibit you can’t say no to Vera. 

I really enjoyed my day out at the V&A and hope to return soon, I think the exhibit had it flaws but was still a beautiful collection of work paired with history and stories that will stay with me forever.