Name This London Location – Winner: Deptford Dame

29 11 2009

The location of this picture was The Elgin pub in Ladbroke Grove, W10

As promised, the winner – The Deptford Dame – has chosen three of her own pictures to feature on MyMetropole. These images offer an excellent view of Deptford, different to the stereotypes held by some of the area! Enjoy, and congratulations again to the Deptford Dame!

Courtesty of Deptford Dame

Courtesy of Deptford Dame


Courtesy of Deptford Dame

Pork & Pickle Pie Comedy Club tonight

26 11 2009

A comedy club night with 4 acts headlined by an award-winning burger van owner plus pork and pickle pies for a fiver.

The Britannia Pub on Victoria Park is hosting the Pork & Pickle Pie comedy club with tonight the first night of many to showcase top British talent in night of stand up ‘til you fall over laughing, or full of pork & pickle pies, or both.

Angelos Epithemiou of Shooting Stars headlines, most well known for his work with Vic & Bob on the BBC comedy quiz show (and from his burger van, obviously).

Supporting acts include Will Andrews, comedy sketch group The Real MacGuffins and Richard Sandling. Combined, these comedians can throw around names like BBC, Channel 4, Bafta and Edinburgh Fringe, making this comedy night some serious stuff. If pork and pickle do not your fancy tickle, no worries – vegetarian options are available. This is just the first night of many, so if you’re interested, stay tuned!

Pork& Pickle Pie Comedy Club
The Britannia
360 Victoria Park Rd
London, E9 7BT
Tickets are £5

Angela Palmer: Ghost Forest

26 11 2009

The Ghost Forest exhibit was an excellent way to show just how large these trees are and everything that we need them (to survive) for. All photos courtesy of MissDani aka imJuli.

I would have liked to have seen a representation of how high these trees are. There were labels on each of the blocks comparing them to Nelson’s plinth, but some something which actually stood that tall would have hit it home for me. Not that lugging a full sized tree from the rainforest to Britain would have been the answer, but some sort of creative representation. I am not an artist, so dont ask me what, imjustsaying.

Name this London location

25 11 2009

Hello there loyal MyMetropole readers – Be the first to name this West London location and get one of your own London pictures featured on MyMetropole…


Name this Location

Good Luck!

Victoria Miro Gallery

23 11 2009

I recently wrote a preview  for Le Cool London on the Grayson Perry Tapestry at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. The previews I write are often before I’ve gotten to see it for myself, so I went to the Victoria Miro Gallery to check out the tapestry, and found that the Gallery itself stole the show.

The Victoria Miro Gallery is a privatly-owned venue tucked away down a no-name road in between Angel and Old Street, between Islington and Hoxton.

This free gallery is housed in a converted furniture factory, stretching over two floors in two neighbouring buildings with 10,000 square feet of space and includes a wooded outdoor patio between the two spaces. At the time I was there, the pond had invisible speakers spouting sounds of a choir and people relaxing on benches and enjoying an outdoor exhibit before stepping into the second space where the tapestry was located.

After ringing the buzzer to get in the main non-descript entrance, we stepped into a large white space in front of us and a dark wooden staircase to the left leads upstairs to a second space. Back down the stairs, through a narrow hallway, out past the singing pond and through the second door you are confronted with a long white surreal staircase stretching up, up, up to the sky, similar to a dream you must have had once.  Halfway up the staircase is a large open well-lit white space, head back out and back up the remaining steps to the sky leads to the top floor space with views over Angel and Regents Canal. Not to mention an absolutely gorgeous space with wooden floors and tall strong walls to hold massive pieces of work.

The exhibits were all top, though of course the Turner Prize winning Grayson Perry pieces here were the most viewed, with over 30 people at a time swarming round the tapestry and his prize-winning vases.

Currently showing at the Victoria Miro Gallery is  Phil Collins: soy mi madre through 18 December 2009.

Victoria Miro Gallery
16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW


Untold London

20 11 2009

I just came across an excellent website called Untold London. The website explores the histories that relate to all the people of London  as they are told in museums, galleries, archives and community heritage organisations.  The information that is left out or often ignored adds a layer of reality to the stories of the past that, if known, would help us to better relate to and understand the present.

The website is run in collaboration between a number of organisations with experience in the London history and heritage sector, and managed by the London Museums Hub.

Thursday night, Untold London in association with the British Museum launched a downloadable tour of Gay London. You can download this tour here:

At the launch, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw praised the initiative calling it “an excellent marker for the rest of the Museum sector.”

Sara Wajid, Manager of UntoldLondon said, “Richard Parkinson, curator at the British Museum told me a story about the bisexual writer Marguerite Yourcenar. She had been walking amongst the imposing displays of the Emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous at the British museum, but she found nothing there about their passionate relationship. It was the silences in the museum version of their life that sparked her imagination to fill in the gaps about one of the greatest untold love stories. The result was the modern classic Mémoires d’Hadrien a fictionalised account of Hadrian’s life and love for Antinous published in 1951 to great critical acclaim. This was the inspiration for the competition.”

The website does not only cover LGBT history and issues, however. This website collates information from all under-represented groups. The lead news article is about London’s new Jewish Museum, set to bring together an impressive collection held at two locations into one new museum opening in Spring 2010 in Camden Town. Related articles cover the history of Yemen and British Yemenis and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

On a related note, a gay tourist office has recently opened in Soho.  The Gay Tourist Board, located at 30 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA (above Ku Bar), will serve as a hub for both LGBT residents of London as well as for the large number of gay and lesbian tourists to the capital.

Centre director Shaun Newport said, “‘We want to show that London’s exciting LGBT life is the best in the world. We will show off what our city has to offer to local, national and international visitors, as well as to Londoners old and new.”

Follow the Gay Tourist Office on Twitter and be a fan on Facebook or visit the website at

Top Five Afternoon Teas in London

20 11 2009

I recently had afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason during a visit from my fashionista friend from Chicago. Despite our trips to various markets, whisking her off to France for a day, hitting Maze and the Bluebird, nights out in Shoreditch and Soho, I think we would all agree that our wonderful afternoon tea experience was at the top of the list.

It started me thinking about what I would rate as  the Top 5 Afternoon Tea locations London.

At number 5: Fortnum and Mason

This tea experience was an absolute treat, with a full vegetarian menu served easily alongside the regular tea. Dress is dressy casual, and families dined among gossiping gaggles of girls, businessmen and groups of tourists.  The price varies but runs between £30 and £40.

Number 4: Tea at the Berkeley

The Berkeley (pronounced Barkley, as in Charles, for you Americans out there) does a Fashionista tea, designing the treats to match Jimmy Choos, Gucci bags, and hits the spot for those looking for a change from ‘regular’ afternoon tea elsewhere.

Number 3: The Landmark London

The Landmark Hotel does a proper Afternoon Tea, as well as a full-on Chocolate Tea as well as a Gluten Free Tea. The former includes chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate brownies, white chocolate cheesecake, chocolate and banana pot au chocolat, and chocolate chip scones with hazelnut chocolate spread. The Gluten-Free Tea has less of that, but is a great way to include those normally left out of Afternoon Tea due to allergies.

Price £30-40

Number 2: Tart @ 40 WINKS

Technically this is not afternoon tea. This is about discovering your inner starlet. Unformed waitresses serve you cucumber sandwiches, cakes and chocolates while vintage beauty and make up experts transform you into your true vintage starlet self.  This is a perfect day out with the girls- and no boys are allowed here!  Tart takes place on Saturdays, but not every Saturday, so check for more info. This one’s a bit pricier at £60 per person.

Number 1: The Gore Hotel‘s Rock-n-Roll Afternoon Tea

You get your own Jack and Coke. Nuff said.

A more complete description might be: Guests can indulge in music shaped cookies or mini custard pies,  chocolate éclairs, spicy chicken sandwiches and Jack Daniel muffins at this afternoon tea at Bar 190, The Gore’s star-studded bar.  The menu is priced at £22.50 per person, plus celebrity spotting is destined to ensue, as everyone from Take That to Leona Lewis have been spotted at the Gore in the last few weeks.

Runner Up: The Hoxton Pony in Shoreditch. See my article at Swell City Guide for more on this great east London tea experience.

It’s Who You Know…RJ Rushmore aka Vandalog

18 11 2009

It’s two months ago, and I’m meeting American street art collector and tour guide RJ Rushmore, known online as Vandalog, at the Bean in Shoreditch. I’m late, as usual, so we’ve texted, he’s gone to run a few errands and will meet me in a few. I want to meet him because I read about his Street Art Tours and I think they’re worth promoting.

RJ is 18, from the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, just 20 minute drive from Palatine, my own John Hughes (RIP) suburban home town. He’s been here for 4 years. That means he started here when he was a freshman. I get a kick out this. I get a coffee and sit down on the bench outside, guessing at which hoodie or hipster will walk in to educate me on the Urban Art Scene in London.

Cool dude after cool dude saunter past, none stop, none are RJ.

Then, a skinny guy neither hoodie nor hipster approaches and asks if I am Jessica. Sure enough I catch that Midwestern accent…RJ asks me if I’d like anything else to drink, he’s just going to grab an Earl Grey tea.

It takes my eyes a minute to adjust to the crumbling of my expectations – this guy isn’t the cool dude I am expecting. He really is a young, high schooler… Well, I’ll have a chat with him, it’ll be nice to reminisce with someone from Chicago for a bit, I think to myself.

RJ knows he’s not what people expect.  “I like golf,” he offers. “I considered studying computer programming,” he continues. He’s still considering it even,  though he might minor in Art History.  This whole leap into the street art scene, in fact, started when his dad brought home a piece of street art ‘to seem cool’, and continued as a way to get out of taking an art class at his American High School in London. His task was to organise an educated tour of graffiti in East London for his fellow students. They ate it up. Their moms wanted tours. Suddenly, the tours were in thelondonpaper and everyone wanted them.

So how does RJ know so much about street art? He and his dad collect street art together, he explains, and it becomes clear that they have a much closer relationship than one normally has with their dad at 18. The interest turned into a shared passion, and RJ started his blog – Vandalog, which led to an internship at the Black Rat Pres Gallery (where he later takes me).

The longer I listen to RJ tell his story, my impression shifts from one of a bit of shock and disappointment to one of absolute awe. I’m really enjoying hanging out with him, he’s one of the most genuine and intelligent guys I have met in a long time.

He educated me on the history of the street art movement in great details, all the while namedropping pieces he has bought or artists he knows personally and has even done some work with.

I learn that some street art I’ve always been partial to is by Shepherd Fairey – world famous, in part for his Obama poster fame.  Yet another, albeit slight, Chicago connection. He can show me Fairey’s latest piece, he says, it’s just gone up at Cargo down the road. We’ll head there after he finishes his tea.

In fact, he can introduce me to Sarah, over at Black Rat Press, who’s the real expert, he says. Without her and his internship work at Black Rat, he’s never be able to run the exhibition he is curating at the Village Underground.

Stop. Reverse. Huh? Did an 18 year old just casually and self-depreciatingly drop into the conversation that he is curating his own urban art exhibition at one of the coolest locations in London?

Oh, yes, he tells me, at the Village Underground. In November. It’s called The Thousands. It’s going well, he says, it’s mostly just a challenge to get that and the book finished at the same time. The book is called The Thousands: Painting Outside, Breaking In. He’s launching it at the exhibition.

Who’s your favourite artist, I ask him? His all-time fav would have to be Swoon for what she does outdoors and in the gallery, though he’s loving Burning Candy in London, in New York City, Skewville, The ADHD Kids and Booker are all being very innovative and you can’t ignore Banksy, he adds.Banksy is always pushing things to the next level and staying fresh

I try to be cool, I ask him if these large scale exhibits, like the Banksy vs Museum in Bristol and even his exhibit are not turning street art into the mainstream, negating the very spirit behind the work. Isn’t that selling out, I cleverly ask…

RJ sees nothing wrong with it all. Street Art on the outside of the Tate Modern or exhibitions like his, he explains, could be seen as selling out or as gentrifying the art-form, but that is a necessary side effect of something much more important. Promoting street art to a wider audience, getting it in museums and generally making sure that the larger art community accepts it are all part of making sure that this art-form is preserved for future generations.

Work on the street is ephemeral and only lasts in photographs. If MoMA buys work by Banksy, future generations will be able to see it, and street art is an important enough movement that some of it deserves preservation. And as for Banksy versus The Bristol Museum, he adds, that show got 300,000 from around the world to visit a city museum in just a few months! Banksy did something that had a massively positive impact on the city of Bristol and got a bunch of people interested in art.

That’s quite a lot of notches for his belt, and all accomplished in his gap year before he heads off to study at liberal arts Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

Watch out college. RJ’s coming to town. His self-depreciating and genuine style will knock you off your feet. I know I’m smitten.

The Thousands starts tonight and runs through Sunday. Check out for details and make sure to check out for RJ’s online Street Art nuggets of knowledge.

Buy the book  here:

Le Cool London this week – Subtle Mob today!

12 11 2009


Flashmob Subtle Mob

What’s a subtle mob you say? Sign up here, open your email, download an MP3 file onto your iPod/phone and meet at the secret location at 6pm today. All at once, everyone hits play, and the simultaneous experience of Duncan Speakman’s Subtle Mob begins. Each participant follows their own set of directions, and is guided through slightly different versions of the same events. A plot will slowly unfold as spectators, actors, artists and musicians even (!) literally cause a scene. Taking place in London today, Bristol tomorrow and Liverpool on Saturday, this England-wide theatrical experience by the Vauxhall Collective artist is entitled “As If It Were The Last Time” and aims to make the actors (that’s you, with the headphones) see their own streets in a new way, as well as making a beautiful soundtrack for the cityscape which serves as the subtle mob’s stage. Forget a ‘spontaneous’ collective dance at Liverpool Street Station – this ain’t your mama’s (flash)mob. /

Secret, innit
how much

Angela Palmer: Ghost Forest

12 11 2009

From November 16-22nd, Trafalgar Square will be converted into a tropical rainforest as Angela Palmer exhibits these giant  trees from a commercially logged tropical rainforest in Ghana, and attempts to raise awareness of the connection between deforestation and climate change.

Angela Palmer

I first read Angela’s story in the Financial Times, 9 October 2009:

“I blame Hong Kong Telecom. When I lived in the former colony, its vans bore the words: “What can be imagined, can be achieved.” ‘

The idea

The latest scientific reports on climate change are now my bedside reading. Even nights off are scientifically infused. Attending the first “Sustainaball” in aid of environmental charity Earthwatch, I dress as a sunflower and meet Andrew Mitchell, an old friend and a dashing scientist who has been banging on about rainforest trees for the past 30 years. He runs the Global Canopy Programme and is one of Prince Charles’s advisers. He scares the pants off me with statistics: a tropical forest the size of a football pitch is destroyed every four seconds; that means, he says, that an area twice the size of Belgium is lost every year. He suggests I should recreate a rainforest tree by drawing its rings on to multiple sheets of glass. Why distance people from the real thing, I reply. Why not bring a real rainforest tree into the centre of London and show what mighty beasts we are destroying every second? And so my obsession develops a specific focus: I will find a commercially logged rainforest and persuade the loggers to give me some tree stumps to present as a “ghost forest”.

But it is not until Antony Gormley says the project can’t be done that I really get the bit between my teeth. I am sitting next to the artist at dinner at my old Oxford college, Exeter, where he is installing a bronze sculpture of himself on the roof. I tell him I am planning to bring rainforest tree stumps, complete with their massive buttress roots, and place them smack in the middle of London. As the stunt would reach millions through worldwide coverage, I feel it would justify its carbon footprint. Impossible, he says. And who can blame him?

Read the full article here, visit and for more information on the exhibition and the artist.