Artvehicle 53 — Editorial

It’s so annoying, and it always happens at the worst time. There you are, all full of art and wishing to enter into a little discourse with your companion, so off you head to the nearest pub for a seat and a proper drink. Then, as you drew near to its warm fug and wintery cheer, it mutates.

It goes matt, all olive green or light grey, maybe a name change to something moderner but standard in format; The Prawn and Condom or The Feral Fox. This is then put on the hanging sign, or perhaps just the initials in gold leaf or a daft font. As you get closer you see the original clientele shooed out of the door holding maps and tokens for the nearest Wetherspoons. Off they shuffle, talking care not to let this cataclysmic event in their routine cause them to mutter more than the acceptable six words to each other. 

Then up goes a chalk-board, offering double-mashed mash con sausågé for thirteen quid. A few random choice brews from The Hit or Miss microbrewery in Mile End and some Belgium über-booze that is traditionally drunk from an earthenware test-tube complete the menu. A nice new unisex toilet to fit in some more tables and confuse old people and an accent wall of 1970s lost dog notes rounds off the interior.   

Just as you reach the door the bar staff leave school, get new haircuts, move to London, sign contracts and start work, smiling hopefully at the hand pumps. Fortunately they now take credit cards because the ten-pound note you’re holding will no longer cover both the drinks you want to buy.

Rumours that the Owl and Pussycat on Redchurch Street had closed down are not true, it’s still there, just not as affordable/nice as it was. Yes it’s all change down at RCS these days. The fur shops are long gone, the dildo outlets and bike shops have moved on too, giving way to the vintage shops and more and more galleries, and the resulting bella-crowd.

Yes the beautiful pointless were all milling about in the road down there last week. It was neither First nor Thursday so must be like that all the time these days. A sluice of black-clad Bambis, all downy facial hair and eyelashes, drifted from gallery to gallery, a live band here, some limited edition street art there (on canvas now making it saleble and legal, but not really street anymore, more of an avenue).

So is Redchurch the new Vyner? Well, the First Thursday Art Map from Time Out ties them at nine galleries apiece. Vyner Street’s big guns aren’t listed there; Wilkinson, Five-hundred Dollars and Nettie Horn aren’t on the list.  Redchurch Street has some places worth a look-see too; Tintype springs to mind.  

Redchurch Street has got the eats: The Beigel shop and local curry houses coming out of its ears and there’s that tasty but pricy pizza place near the Truman Brewery. Nearest decent boozers are up on Columbia Road with The Birdcage and the Royal Oak, or the Carpenters on Cheshire Street, off Brick Lane. All a slight hike, you’ll lose the stragglers if you rush off and if you hang about you’ll not get a drink for an hour: it’s a bit tricky since the Owl and Pussycat had it’s heart ripped out and served up rare in its own restaurant (with a coconut jus). 

Vyner Street does have the excellent Al Amin nearby and up on Mare Street are some great Vietnamese and Turkish places. Boozewise it has got to be the winner though. With Bistroteque around the corner to siphon off the cocktail clique, The Victory and The Hare are able to be pubs like God meant them to be. It’s in this category they can play their Joker too: The Dolphin.        

In this issue we have an artist page from Alex Baggaley, a video-essay from Nathan Barlex, an interview with Tamsyn Challenger discussing her 400 Women project, a Postcard from Miami and a review of Hito Steyerl at Chisenhale.

Adrian Lee