Seeing London Through New Eyes

Life is all about perspective – in order to see the detail of some things, one must look closely. But other times, stepping back is the only way to see something clearly. In addition, the lens through which one looks can make all the difference.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon on an Alternative Walking Tour of East London. I joined the group as a naïve American tourist hoping to learn a few fun facts, but as the tour began my perspective shifted and I was suddenly seeing things in a different way, noticing things I never would have before. And it was all thanks to this guy:

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Our tour guide, an East London artist originally from Australia, spoke with deep passion about the creativity that surrounded us as we wove through side streets and admired artwork. He had profound appreciation for the architecture that set the scene for his tour and raw admiration of religious structures that had survived periods of brutally violent history and made it out alive, although sometimes as homes for different religions. Some of the artwork was done illegally, but much of the artwork was done with permission – allowing artists to visually communicate with whoever was willing to walk by and actually see.

IMG_5814Take for example what is known as a Jonesy. These tiny, yet extraordinarily detailed sculptured are placed on the top of street signs, only to be noticed and appreciated by by those who truly have their eyes open. It’s amazing how many times we walk through the day with our eyes open, but not really seeing anything. I can’t tell you how many times I look at my phone to see if I have a new text message only to have the a blank screen with the time on it. But then 30 seconds later I have to look back at my phone because I didn’t actually see the time, just the lack of text messages!

The amount of creativity and innovation was incredible. Once my eyes were opened and I was able to see through the proper lens, East London transformed before me. Knowing that the blue building below is number eleven and a half because the house was split into two due to the lack of affordability at the time changes everything. And the mural below of an unknown man was made by drilling away at parts of the concrete. Our tour guide summed it up perfectly when he said, “destroying something to create something is the essence of what graffiti is.” Graffiti, street art, creativity, or whatever you want to call it – it is absolutely breathtaking.

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After two hours of engrossing ourselves in East London culture, Laura and I wandered back towards Old Spitalfields Market with the group, tipped our guide, and headed to dinner. It was on the way that I found this amazing old car.

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We ended up going to Dishoom, a Bombay Café home to the most delicious Indian food I have ever had. I was so hungry I forgot to photograph the dishes, but I did manage to get a shot of the table behind us with this awesome clock and a sneaky shot of the kitchen where fresh naan was being prepared..

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Yesterday was an awesome day of experiencing London culture and indulging in ethnic food. And it really made me think about using my sight to actually see the world around me – It’s all about perspective.

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