I was invited to do a painting of The Dalston Yard Street Feast in Hackney London. This being a disused light industrial factory complex in the heart of Dalston, which has found a new life as a street food eatery, and a night spot.
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About Dalston Yard Street Feast, Hackney
Of course, London is full of venues which provide food. Almost all of which are clinical, air conditioned machines occupied by the usual multinational franchises where almost none of the food is fully prepared on the spot, and, hardly any is made with much care and attention.
To any street food lover then Dalston Yard Street Feast is the answer to franchise misery. There must be at least 20 bars and food stalls jammed into this disused factory and each is completely different from the next. You can find a lobster house (Bob’s Lobster), a Taco bar (Breddos) and even a Japanese (Yum Bun) place to name but a few.
In amongst the food, you will find beer bars, wine bars and a shed selling Tequila. Of particular interest to me was a room dedicated entirely to the drinking of Gin. This Hogarthian throwback hasn’t been seen on London streets for over 100 years. I don’t really drink Gin while I’m out and about though it was nice to know it’s there just in case.
As I am a total mug for food, it took me an age to choose my indulgence for the evening, I finally plumbed for the huge smoked pork belly slices from the Smokestak , washed down with a pint of juice.
One thing for sure, if you are on a diet, then keep away from this place as everything there seems to be specifically designed to put kilos on you at a glance, and all the better for it as far as I’m concerned, we all need to indulge occasionally.
I stuffed it away as I blundered about what looked like the set from Bladerunner. I got to wondering how I could approach the job I was here to do. I almost forgot about that.
Drawing and painting Dalston Street Feast, Hackney
As the Street Feast is situated across quite a wide area, there was not a particular view that I could choose which would have all the key stalls, and bars my client wanted to feature.
So rather than doing a single view, I decided to draw a large selection of separate views with the aim of pulling all the key parts together at the end to create one single painting. Not reality, though hopefully capturing the atmosphere of the place using some of the stalls and drawings of the customers.
Of importance too, was the plethora of graffiti, and posters adorning the white washed brick walls. It all added to that rather dystopian feel.
It took a fair while to pull the drawing together into what looked a cohesive and convincing scene though I got there in the end.
I really enjoyed the feel of the Street Feast and the non-franchised multinational approach to the food and drink choices. Many were family businesses which really showed in the delicious food they served.
It was also inspiring to see imagination employed in using what many would see as a useless and derelict building. It could have so easily be knocked down only to sell more boxed up fried chicken. This is a genuine, unique draw for Hackney. But don’t go home expecting to be slimmer.
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