And more stories…

The people in the group, some being born here some having lived here for over a decade, some who have just arrived, we each have our own impression or anecdotes worth sharing with the rest of the group. We leave the Children’s Hospital on Hackney Road now being turned into luxury flats for the first halt of the journey.

Sebastiano takes us J. Hoyle & Son Foundry from where he hopes he could find some material to use as pigment for his paintings. Next, Jaime remembers walking on the tracks years ago and seeing this incredible noisy monster he identified as a railgrinder, not quite aware these existed. After that, it is time for Yasmine to share a special memory in Vyner street. She was fortunate enough to hold a solo exhibition only a month after moving to London. Which shows us how sometimes harsh London spoils us with good luck. At the corner of Cambridge Heath road and Hackney Road, Bill tells the strange energy this place seems to hold for him, like that time he and his housemate were moving houses and pushing a couch filled with boxes in the streets and the wheels of the couch broke down just here forcing them to carry it over a mile to his new house.

We are now looking at a wooden door. There is seemingly nothing special about it. We soon understand that Rupert’s intention in this random choice of location is about creating memory together as part of the process not only relating to the past but the present. This spot has now acquired meaning for all of us just by pointing at it.
We are now learning from Anna about the rather dark episode of this part of London’s history that is the hanging of two men in front of the Salmon and Ball Public House, in 1769 when these men were accused of cutting the silk on the looms during the Spitalfield riots. Today’s walk comes to a close on another tragic story that occurred two centuries later just across the road.
An incident kept silent for years and recently brought to light with the building of a new memorial by Bethnal Green tube station. Ines, who met a woman, a baby at the time and who miraculously survived, tells us about that terrible accident that killed 173 people in 1943 as people were rushing down the stairs to take shelter from an air-raid.We are perpetuating History by telling stories read or heard… So many layers of history can be seen in London’s landscape, decades after decades, centuries after centuries, we are with Mnemonic City modestly adding our own layer to the collective memory.

Telling stories

The walks have by now taken a new turn as the previous system has left some members of the group frustrated in their need of exploring the route that joins Fish Island Labs and the Barbican. We have decided to explore the city within a perimeter of the shortest route between the two locations that will host our work. Recovering a sense of purpose we are now looking for inspiration in history or stories, our stories, exploring one’s own past, one’s own memories on the traces of our adventures in London or sharing some knowledge recently acquired for the purpose of feeding a life long passion or a curiosity born with Mnemonic City.

We meet outside Spitalfield market and walk to Brick Lane for our first story. David takes us to the Truman Brewery where he tells us about a recovered friendship after years of silence and how this place is in his memory now forever associated with this heartwarming episode.

From there we stroll through the narrow streets to Liverpool Street where our gaze is shifted upwards to the skyscrapers that left such a strong impression on Yuri when he first arrived in London.

After a short tea break Ines also shares one her introductory experience to the alienating City: a miserable first job interview where tears could have made her life take completely different direction if only she had shed some.

From busy Shoreditch High Street we move towards infamous Old Nichol which was part of the first slum clearance scheme in London in 1890.

Arnold Circus is not only the one of the first council estate to be built in England, it is also a place of many memories of art studios, of peacocks on roofs and failed squatting attempts and lost relations.

Between dreamed reality and vague memories we are now moving towards the one lion that still guards the ghost of Columbia Market Hall, an amazing building that repeatedly failed its trading purpose since it was first inaugurated in 1869. It is a heartbreaking thought to know this beautiful structure was destroyed in the 1960s after such a short lifespan.

At the other end of Columbia road we listen to a final tale of an old lady’s troubled spirit haunting the basement Nags Head public house. It is now time to rest on these stories until the next episode.

© by Mnemonic City, all rights reserved

Cards and dice

We are now bringing the game to a more elaborate level than the last time as the members of the group have prepared accessories like dices and cards to liven up the process.

Each crossing brings a new dilemma. The cards encourage us to look in the landscape the answer to the question where do we go next. The playfulness with random passersby and interaction with the environment force us to look at the city from a different perspective.

We forget the purpose, logic or even our instinct and give ourselves away to chance. Guided by randomness we invite the absurd in the process.

Meanwhile David is following the line that represents the way from Fish Island to Barbican.

We end up in St Paul station and the cold has finally gotten hold of us; it is time to warm up with a hot cup of tea before separating until the next game.

© by Mnemonic City, all rights reserved