Magazine article Geographical

London Burning: Portraits from a Creative City

Magazine article Geographical

London Burning: Portraits from a Creative City

Article excerpt

LONDON BURNING: Portraits from a Creative City

edited by Hossein Amirsadeghi; Thames & Hudson; 58 [pounds sterling](hardback)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

If there's a single thread running through this compendium of artists' experiences of London life, it's encapsulated by Moroccan-born gallery owner Hassan Hajjaj: 'I feel I'm not British but I'm a Londoner'.

London, we're repeatedly assured, offers opportunities not found elsewhere; not necessarily for fame and fortune, but often simply for acceptance; the freedom not to be stereotyped by sexual preference, identity or ethnic origin. The resulting cultural mix is why, 'If your idea works here, it explodes,' according to Fabien Riggall, Secret Cinema's founder.

But this inclusiveness is under threat from gentrification, which brings narrow-mindedness in its wake--fashion designer Lyall Hakaraia draws hostile curiosity anywhere outside Dalston. Alternative views are available: Anthony Gormley says his art happened 'almost in spite of London'; it wasn't until he lived in North Yorkshire, alongside 'weather and moors, heather and forests and deep winters', that he 'began to live properly'. …

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