We woke up in London on Saturday morning after a long flight, a nap, a late, delicious lunch and an Old Fashioned at the fabulous Indian restaurant Dishoom, a drenching rain, a cup of tea, and a decent night’s sleep. We found ourselves again at the CitizenM, this time in Shoreditch. Again, not because we love it so much, but hotels were in short supply this weekend at our price point.
In fact, we had to go well above our price point even to stay at the CitizenM. The London Marathon was on Sunday and the supply of hotels had been eaten up by the healthy and driven folk who engage in such things.
As you may recall, Shoreditch is a slightly gritty neighborhood known for its nightlife and street art. I love the street art, but it is hard not to notice a more commercial leaning in the art since the last time we visited this area. It seems that businesses are now hiring artists to paint their exteriors rather than the random artist showing up in the dead of night to make his or her mark. And maybe these new ones are not just normal artists. This morning (now Sunday) I encountered a group of people next to a truck in front of some street art that appeared to be under some renovation. The people were wearing neon work vests with the words “Global Street Art” on them. I can only hope this is a way that the artists among us are able to engage in their life’s work and earn a good living. Something about it felt a little disappointing.
Still, I loved looking at all of the street art, even the commercial kind, as we were out and about. This turned out to be quite a lot as the CitizenM in Shoreditch is not really close to the Tube. Every time we turned a corner we saw some new art to enjoy.
I mentioned a good night’s sleep. That was actually only me. My husband arose far too early and spent his time reading the news and researching where we might be able to attain an early-ish breakfast. The match against Tottenham was very early, 12:30 p.m., perhaps to minimize the amount of alcohol to be consumed by fans beforehand. Most of the breakfast to be had nearby was available at 11 a.m., not going to cut it on a day we were determined to be at the stadium early. We ended up selecting the Savoy Kitchen, a lovely but small cafe that started serving breakfast at 8 a.m. The yogurt bowl and porridge were works of art themselves, and hit the spot.
We hopped on a bus to head over to an art installation at the Somerset House courtyard. The installation was created by Portuguese artist Grada Kilomba, and represents the shape of a ship, like those that carried millions of Africans against their will and humanity into Western enslavement.
The memorial was constructed of charred blocks, in which a poem also created by the artist was inscribed in gold, line by line, in some of the blocks.
It was a moving display, made more so by the glistening of the blocks and the shadow cast under the morning sun. The shadow of our history continues to darken our present.
We left just as the the courtyard of the Somerset House was coming to new life with other visitors.