The perfect hat for a stroll around Southwark: a baker boy cap! The London borough is where Charles Dickens spent some of his youth, eventually setting some of his novels here. The area around Southwark is where the old London and the new spectacularly collide. Here you can find a fascinating mix of old brick warehouses, gloomy dripping tunnels and grimy back streets providing the backdrop to throw into sharp relief daring new architecture projects with their high, angular facades of steel and glass.
At night these ancient streets and tunnels are ingeniously lit to remind the visitor that we are in fact in the 21st century. Strips or spotlights of coloured lighting punctuate the gloom - violet strips under bench seats, blue spotlights up lighting trees or coloured spotlights on walls. Even beneath the arches of the tunnels are lit with gaudy fluorescent strip lighting or studded with fairy lights to mimic a starry sky.
Yet turn a corner and you still come face to face with a street scene that looks straight out of a Dicken's or Conan Doyle novel. Where else would you feel so at home wearing a cape?
Southwark is one of my favourite places. Home to my favourite food market, Borough Market, here you can also find the famous Globe Theatre, the London Eye and several of London's most famous bridges including London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the relatively new Millennium Bridge.
Mr V and I went to Southwark yesterday to see the Gauguin exhibition at one of our favourite galleries, the Tate Modern. Once a dilapidated old electricity station, now it is a world class showroom for modern art and an impressive example of how modern architecture can revive the shells of abandoned industries that can blight urban landscapes.
The cavernous maw of the old Turbine Hall provides an impressive space that allows for installation of artworks on a gigantic scale like a 35 foot tall spider, or the current installation by Ai Weiwei, where almost the entire floorspace of the hall is covered in a layer of exquisitely crafted ceramic sunflower seeds, a work that questions our place in society and the powers of our actions as individuals.
Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds
Walking out onto the riverside after an exhibition on a chilly night you will be greeted by the sight of the iconic St Paul's Cathedral and its glimmering reflection in the Thames, with the bold architecture of the Millennium bridge arching towards it, a stark reminder of the constant march of the capital towards the future.
Photos by Mr V.
Cap, Accessorise; Cape, Leather leggings, T-shirt dress, Snood, all Cos; Studded leather gloves, Karen Millen; Biker boots, Gap; Bag, Marc Jacobs.