diamond geezer

 Monday, August 20, 2012

The Marquis Of Lansdowne should be just another dead London pub. On Cremer Street, a narrow thoroughfare linking the Kingsland Road to Hackney Road, round the back of the Geffrye Museum. It last served a pint in 2000, having been opened way back in 1839 by Charrington's Brewery. The new Overground station at Hoxton disgorges passengers no more than a hundred yards away, but even that footfall wouldn't have been enough to save the place. The cornerhouse stands empty, boarded-up, decaying... one of the few surviving unbombed buildings round these parts, but unwanted and derelict.

Except for this weekend. An art project named Traces moved in, with wares to display, and transformed the old pub into a place of wonder. They weren't letting on much to start with. All they were willing to divulge regarding their exhibition's location was a sequence of clues, be that a video, some images or an out-of-date map. This was to be one of those cryptic events which not every Tom, Dick nor Harry could find, and those who finally turned up could feel slightly special at having cracked the code. Actually it wasn't too difficult to find, but when you're selling stuff you don't want too high a proportion of your potential audience staying away.

Inside - the old pub recreated - the bar up one end, a speckled mirror behind. With candles burning at every table and windows draped, the atmosphere is dark but alluring... and also purchasable. The catalogue for the exhibition has been dressed up as a local Victorian newspaper (excellently so). Details of the furniture and decoration are illustrated across the centre pages - tiles, coasters, oil paintings, the lot. Everything down to the bottles behind the bar are up for sale, that's after the weekend display is over, via their creators' websites.

The pub's patrons wouldn't normally have stepped upstairs, but the staircase leads to a landing beneath a charming glass skylight. Three curtains shield a rather different tale, a recreation of the brothel that's assumed to have been located here in the late 19th century. In the boudoir, wow, what could best be described as a "flower bed" with a stuffed dog sleeping at the foot. A silk screen, a mirror-seated chair etched with lace, and Victorian erotica wallpaper. Nextdoor in the madam's office, a shopping list of girls in gilt frames and a cardboard stag's head. And in the "stolen goods" room, all sorts of hand-crafted ephemera, from porcelain jewellery to tiny dolls. The overall effect is most impressive, the whiff of immorality never far away.

You've missed Traces now, but the project hopes to be back next year. A different theme, probably a different location, a fresh brief for all the designers to work to. I can't imagine any of this stuff in my flat, it's more for those with money to spare, and those whose personal taste is measured by the number of unique objets d'art they have on display. And as for the Marquis Of Lansdowne, this faces simultaneously a brighter and a darker future. The pub is now under the protection of the Geffrye, sited as it is on the corner of the museum's site. They plan to add it as an annexe, sometime in 2014, accessed across the garden beyond the extension. The Victorian fa├žade will stay, but the rooms will be gutted and the interior replaced to create a suitable accessible display space (or maybe relocate the restaurant). Good, then, to have seen traces of the old pub before it's almost completely swept away.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream