Chinatown & Soho

For our first project on the course we were sent out to explore different areas of London with the aim of collating a Rough Guide to the city. My area was Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden and although I was familiar with some of these areas I was entirely aware that I had only ever scratched the surface of what these places had to show.

Chinatown speaks in an encrypted language of its own visual and written imagery which is at once alluring in it’s mystery yet almost hostile and secretive at times.  What was most compelling to me was the collision between this stage of foreign culture set within the london streets that are somewhat uniform throughout the city. However I was fascinated by how the foreign make up of the area from the unusual foods to the masses of discarded packaging affected the unique surfaces that form deliberately but also incidentally. How the smudges of the area embed and coat the pavement as if grasping hold of it in order to impress its worth. I found it most interesting that many of these surfaces were discovered  within awkward areas, like corners, ledges, intersecting roads and crevasses.

Within Soho I was drawn to the beautiful yet often unnoticed craft in the ceramic tiling. The coloured lacquered quality against the coarse stoned walls felt rich and sumptuous. Between the messes and overspilling I saw in Chinatown and these decorative tiles I began to find an area of focus within my concept and research. I was fascinated by how temporary marks or obstructions influenced permanent design despite sometimes being considered nuisances. I thought this might be because within the bustle of movement we only notice these marks because they are intrusions however by altering the way we experience the area they in themselves become a permanent part of the memory.  This made me consider the different layers as inhabitants that we impress within an area and how marks that are designed feel more detached. The whited-out painting of a shop window possesses a similar translucent quality to the architecture of a glass building and the rawness of chalk on brick shares a design reminiscent of metal guiding. One of each of these is far more intimate as only a single step away from the original human encounter that created the mark and is not unremarkable simply because we disregard it as a ‘mess’.

 

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