London-born Liz Whiteman Smith is an artist and printmaker who creates screen prints from drawings and her own photography. Every year she organises a group of artists who exhibit at Espacio Gallery in Shoreditch – and in previous years she’s presented illustrations of known buildings in the area.
We asked Liz to give us a whistle-stop tour of London through these buildings, which, if you look at the repeated images in the background, show icons relating to the history of each site.
A Child of the Jago
‘The Child of the Jago name comes from a book written in 1896 by Arthur Morrison about a child from the slums. The slum was the Old Nichol slum, which was cleared in the 1890s and where the Boundary Estate was built. It is now a vintage men’s clothing shop run by Joe Corre, son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.’
‘The Albion Café is at 2-4 Boundary Street; it was a Victorian drapery warehouse owned by Jeremiah Rotherham & Co. Ltd. They had the large haberdashery department store on Shoreditch High Street selling everything from soap to clothing and furniture from about 1860 until it was bombed in the Second World War.’
‘Hurley House is one of the buildings on the Boundary Estate, the first social housing in the UK built to replace the Old Nichol slums. The people who used to live here made buttons, cabinets, chairs, matchboxes and shoes; they couldn’t afford the new rents so were forced out of the area.’
Harnett & Pope
‘This weaver’s building has large windows on the top floors that gave light to the weavers. The plaque reads: “This is Sclater Street 1778”. This marks the corner of the Sclater, or Slaughter, family estate. This building was home to Joseph Fleming, a bootmaker from 1886 to 1930, and now sells handmade ladies’ clothing.’
Unto this Last
‘This was the Old Pitt’s Head pub from 1820 until 1925, when it was taken over by Forman Mark & Co. cabinet makers. “Unto this Last” is the title of John Ruskin’s book in which he tells us to support local craftsman rather than be seduced by the mass production of the Industrial Revolution, a sentiment still popular today.’
Labour and Wait
‘Labour and Wait is a unique shop that sells newly made, old-fashioned tools and household items on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch. It was the Dolphin Pub from 1807 when it was a meeting place for the local Huguenot silk weavers until it closed in 2002.’
Illustrations: Liz Whiteman Smith