online: 30 january 2015
modified: 20-30 january 2015
19 january 2015 in the old dairy cafe
...while visiting Fitzroy Square, London, where George Bernard Shaw once
lived... quite soon i found the house... number 29... and saw that
Virginia Woolf also lived at that address... and a prime minister once
lived a few doors away...
...i'm writing now in 'the old dairy cafe' (at a nearby street corner)
which i could not resist entering because it could be one of the
Welsh-speaking dairies that were once to be found all over London...
...who were they?... i was brought up to believe that many of the
dairyman families came to London as economic immigrants from
Cardiganshire, Wales (where i come from)... Welsh-speaking people who
inhabited much of Britain before it was colonised by Romans, Vikings,
Anglo-Saxons, Normans... and now it is being claimed and troubled and
enlivened by further movements of people from other parts of Europe and
the World... in search of work, welfare, health service, education...
and of political asylum... while other Brits now emigrate to mainland
Europe and to warmer climates closer to the equator... our supposed
identities are changing
in the presence of such alterations of culture everywhere in the
...the next surprise was finding (in this somewhat historic cafe) a pile
of listings of the 200 or so art galleries* in London... (and 50 or so
in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales)...
*NewExhibitions, January + February 2015... details at
and New Exhibitions of Contemporary Art Ltd 13 Masons Yard, London SW1Y
...i asked one of two Turkish ladies (who now run The Old Dairy as a
warm and friendly cafe) if they were linked to the world of art... and
if they knew of the Welsh origin of the one-time dairy?...
...and the one i spoke to said yes they know the previous owner (who is
Welsh)... and that someone from the nearby gallery of Rebecca Hossack
brings the art exhibition lists for cafe customers to take if they
which led me to go in search of the gallery of Rebecca Hossack ...
...there are two galleries of that name... the first (2a Conway Street)
is of modern Australian art (influenced it seems by Aboriginal art as
well as European...?)
...it seems that all i encounter today arouses thoughts of historic and
pre-historic changes that shape not only London-villages but towns,
cities, nations, regions (and any other named affinities or places)
which together can be imagined as a single complex presence which
evolves spontaneously without overall plan but with some kind of
collective intention... or awareness of ourselves as shapers of
ourselves.... (the words become less accurate... and more abstract... as
they add more and
more complexity to the whole... though never reaching it)
...in the second gallery (28 Charlotte Street) i was invited to enter a
darkened back room (a windowless enclosure reminiscent of a cave) in
which Thomas Allen was drawing or painting a connective snake-like
pattern over all the walls as a kind of 'contemporary cave painting'...
with only a single electric lamp to illuminate the work as he does it...
...his manner of doing is first to absorb the spirit of Fitzrovia (the
city-village surrounding Fitzroy sSquare)... and then to ask gallery
visitors to draw scribbles on small
sheets of paper which he uses to shape the next piece of pattern that
he's working on... in semi-darkness...
p a u s e
...while most of us continue to live in artificial caves on earth and
sea and in the air and outer space...
© 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008,
2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 john chris jones
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