Friday 8 August 2014

London with L, Pt 2 - Shoreditch, Barbican & Soho

So after a morning of thrifting and with bellies full of a delicious Peruvian lunch we headed down the Shoreditch High Street towards Calvert Avenue.  When we found it we were completely underwhelmed as L had found it online and it sounded like a "buzzy" destination full of stylish little shops.  Well, it is but not the second you turn the corner so keep walking!

With it being a weekday it was less "buzzy" as it might be on the weekend but it gave us a chance to browse the gallery and shops without crowds.

The Calvert 22 Gallery was our first stop - it's a not-for-profit gallery that focuses on the contemporary art from Russia and Eastern Europe.  We had a chance to look at the "Close and Far" exhibition which featured some gritty photos of what seemed to be people making the most of their surrounding area.

We nipped in to Luna & Curious after being lured in by the treasures we could see behind the large windows.   The shop supports new designers so if you're after something a little different, please stop in!

After a little more browsing we headed back to the main road where I spotted this cheeky chap...

Keep your eyes open around London and you might just find one of Gregos' cheeky faces.  This is one I spotted stuck to the wall in Shoreditch

A little random but after a little research, I discovered that an artist called Gregos paints and glues these replicas of his face on walls around the world (mostly in Paris) so was quite please that I managed to spot one!

After being lured down a wide alleyway by this sign...

We stumbled on another treat...

Tucked under an arch in Shoreditch you can find a beautiful mural by Chinese street artist DALeast

Tucked under some arches we found this crazy mural.  It felt a little creepy but intriguing at the same time.  Again, I journeyed around the internet trying to find out more.  It seems that this is by a Chinese street artist called DALeast who like Gregos, has walls adorned with his art across the world.

Even though their sign did a great job of helping us find some interesting things, we didn't get a chance to eat or drink anything at Tuck Shop but we did have a nose around.  The cafe is at the front of White Rabbit Studios and has such a delightful atmosphere that is was a shame not to actually sit down.  Next time!

Around another corner we found the Nike Lab.  NOT the sort of place I would normally go to, being a keen non-runner but wandered in with L as she's been collecting Nike since we were at school together.  Who would have thought that you would be greeted by something as stunning as this when walking into a shop?!  I was mesmerised!

Time was ticking on so we decided to make a move to Barbican where L could have a look at the architecture then visit the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit.

Again, not the sort of place I would normally visit, especially an exhibition about fashion but it was so fascinating.  The clothes weren't behind glass so it was amazing to be able to get so close that you could see every stitch.  Hands off though - no touching allowed!

I've never seen anything like this either - animated mannequins!  Moving faces projected on to the mannequins were a little creepy but the effect was amazing!

My favourite?  Probably the can-can dress!

And so on to the last stop of the day - Ping Pong dim sum in Soho.  Tired and with aching feet, we were ready to sit down, have a few cocktails and enjoy tasting all sorts of dim sum delights.

I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a separate review for Ping Pong here but I'll leave you with this - if you want a cocktail that is a little out of the ordinary, try the amaretto and wasabe sour.  Delicious!

One quick detour before heading back to Euston (and home!) - Carnaby Street!  As a Brit growing up in the 90s in the States I was one of the only "Britpop" girls in town.  L joined me in my love for all things Blur and I remember flicking through the magazines I got from England and wishing I could hang out in Soho with all the other like-minded indie kids.

Alas, those days are long gone from Carnaby Street so after a day of reminiscing about our teen years, I felt like the 2014 version of Carnaby Street was saying "Oi!  It's 2014!  You're a grown up now!"...*sigh*

I had such a great time spending time with L after all these years and we've promised that we won't leave it another 9 years before we see each other again.

What do you think of the places we visited and discovered?  Do you have any "secret" places that you like to visit?

Missed the first part?

Calvert 22 Gallery
22 Calvert Avenue 

London E2 7JP

Luna & Curious

24 - 26 Calvert Avenue
London E2 7JP
020 3222 0034

Tuck Shop

471-473 The Arches
Dereham Place
London EC2A 3HJ
020 7729 3183


The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
Silk Street 
020 7638 8891 (box office)

Standard Ticket - £14.50
Students - £9.00
Art Fund members - £12.50
Under 12s - free

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