Friday, 18 June 2010

I've arrived at Stratford: 17 June 2010

In my opinion Stratford is an odd place. When we first moved to Hackney, which was only six years ago, Stratford was a junction that you went to in order to travel to somewhere else - it wasn't a destination as such. A lot of buildings were boarded up, there was a collapsed air about the place and deprivation was clear all around. The only signs of life might be a street fight outside a café.

Then five years ago the 2012 Olympic games were awarded to London with Stratford being at its heart. One of the blessings of this decision is that millions of pounds are being pumped into the area to regenerate it. So yesterday I went there by train, enjoying the fancy new rolling stock, and arrived at a very clean and new platform that suggested efficiency and purpose. This felt very odd and nothing like the Stratford I'm familiar with.

I decided that this was not what I wanted to record on paper, well not yet anyway. I wanted a reminder of the faded, down-at-heel Victorian architecture, pollution and too much traffic. So I ended up in the centre of the town in St John's churchyard where I found a place to sit underneath a memorial. It was a warm day, I had the place to myself and as I looked about I thought 'this is a fairly dismal sort of churchyard but it'll do'. Then I spied a bottle and decided I must be sitting where the drunks normally hang out but there was no sign of any. So I sat and drew the picture you see above - I was facing the Broadway which runs from East to West. I combined water soluble pencil and ink on this one.

It wasn't until I got home that I looked up some of the history of Stratford which I got from Wikipedia. Like much of London Stratford was open countryside until the advent of the railways in 1839 so that didn't surprised me. What did surprise me was that there had been an abbey called St Mary's which dominated the area from 1135 when it was founded, until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. That's 400 years and there is now no sign above ground of it ever having existed!

So that's made me ponder the future of all this new building of sports stadia and the development of an enormous shopping centre that is now dominating the landscape. I can't imagine for one moment that there will be any of it left to see in another 400 years time - maybe by then London will have returned to open countryside.

No comments:

Post a Comment