It’s a year now since I started to work in Brixton and for a year I have been very happy going there once or twice a week.
This is because every time I visit the village I have to walk down Atlantic Road from its beginning just metres away from Brixton Tube Station entrance (at the right hand-side as you exit) almost all the way down the end, to where my work is.
It makes me happy to walk down this street. This is because of the diversity of colours, sounds and smells from the people, the buildings and the shops which are abundant. The shops are all different but they are run mainly by independent retailers.
From the fried chicken shop, passing through the african jewellery and cafés furnished with second hand chairs and tables, to the more trendy delis and newer coffee shops. All independent and all unique, and in tone with the people walking up and down that same street. It reminds me of Lavapiés where I lived before I moved to London eight years ago, a neighbourhood I couldn’t get out of just because I loved it so much. It is a pity I only visited Brixton when I started to work here a year ago, otherwise I would have decided to make of Brixton my neighbourhood.
However, now that I think about it Lavapiés didn’t escape gentrification; the moving in of bohemians to the neighbourhood changed its “panorama” (as rents rose). In Brixton too the panorama is changing. For example, I have spotted a few of those coffee shops with hand-made furniture built out of wooden pallets. A few weeks ago I thought about how alike these cafés are to one I saw in Berlin’s Neukölln neighbourhood. The front walls of this café in Berlin had been covered with paint by neighbours as a sign of protest against gentrification. The owners of the café, on the other hand, left the paint because they thought it looked… well, I guess “cool” is the word.
Now in Brixton a restaurant chain has used local graffiti artists to paint the front of their new venue in Atlantic Road. In their publicity they were aware of the resistance they could have found and tried to “come clean” as they claimed they would enable the Railway Hotel building to be in use again, giving space for the local community and continuing the musical tradition the venue once had. Excuses.
A chain has opened in Brixton’s Atlantic Road and this makes me think about whether independent artist like myself and many other have any space at all in the world today. You may feel that these two things are not related, but basically this is the way my minds work.
A chain has opened in Brixton’s Atlantic Road and I don’t have any words left to say.
(Read more here.)