Brick Lane, in London’s East End, was once among the poorest slums in the capital. It takes its name from the 15th century brick and tile production based in this area. Like all poor city districts it became a magnet for various groups of immigrants over the centuries. First Jews, then French Huguenots, then Irish established communities here over the centuries, and later Bangladeshi-Sylheti immigrants settled here and made the street famous for its restaurants.
That’s how I first got to know it, as a favourite destination for Londoners and visitors in search of a good cheap curry, or a traditional beigel. But more recently, again like the poorer districts of many cities, it has been ‘discovered’ by young people in search of cheaper accommodation. They created an edgier vibe, bringing street art and street food, and making the area a more fashionable place to live. Vegan restaurants, street food stalls and independent coffee shops now rub shoulders with the curry houses; vintage clothes shops with the sellers of traditional Bengali styles; and the former Truman Brewery has reopened as a bar.
But the area retains its strong links to the Bengali community. There’s an active mosque; street signs are in Bengali as well as English; and the ornamental Brick Lane Arch marks the entrance to the street in the red and green colours of the Bangladesh flag.
For us today it’s the go-to place to photograph the ever-changing street art and grab a good coffee or something stronger. This gallery showcases photos from my most recent visit in March 2022. On this occasion I tried to focus not just on the larger murals but also the quirky little signs, posters, pictures and even mini-sculptures that people attach to the walls around here. They won’t all be to everyone’s taste but I hope some of them make you smile!
Sharing for the Photographing Public Art challenge this week.
I visit Brick Lane regularly; these photos were all taken on my most recent visit in March 2022