This series of works titled “Exile on Vyner Street” was created on a building site on Vyner Street in East London between April and May 2015.
As I sat in the empty space and observed my new surroundings I realized how much the area had changed since 2003 when I first arrived to East London. Since then, old-school pubs and breakfast cafs alongside the traditional curry houses and occasional charity shops had given way to new business. Some, acutely aware of the past, remained true to their roots. But most, slick and trendy, almost generic in their façade, were a far cry from the rough and raw, certainly genuine vibe that once bounced-off every street corner.
I decided then and there I wanted to leave an imprint on my canvasses of the original East End I once knew: a home for artists, musicians, social misfits and all things bohemian. All of which have been forced into exile because none can afford to live where they once called home.
Today, old buildings are getting knocked down soon to be replaced by “luxury flats" and “warehouse reconversions”. People who were born and raised in the area are getting evicted. Original East Enders cannot find affordable housing. Many are forced to make life in the streets.
“Exile on Vyner Street” explores that rapid socio-economic change that is transforming the East End. Yes, the old must give way to the new, but always respecting (if not preserving) what was there then before today.
This series of works is my passive yet passionate protest against those who strip that thin veil of authenticity without regard to social consciousness. This is my personal goodbye to what East London was like, once upon a time. -CRL