Sunday, 29 January 2012

Rough Guide Theory Task

Exploring Covent Garden, Soho and China Town was an exciting task as I have been to these places many times, but never really looked fully into these areas.
China Town on a weekday is quite busy, tourists taking photos, locals running their food shops, some had little markets on the front of their shops. One shop was selling a strange looking fruit or vegetable, large in size bigger then a football, covered in spikes, but not harmful spikes. On closer inspection, it looked like a bigger lychee fruit, with a hard skin but soft flesh. A lady brought half a fruit and when it was cut into it turned out to have a yellow centre, with large stones. They said it can be eaten ripe when its uncooked or unripe when its is cooked. This made no sense to me so I did my research and its known as a meat for the vegetarian, used in curry’s as a meat substitute. It’s called a Thai Jackfruit, from the name you wouldn’t think it would have any association with China, it doesn’t it originates from Southern and Southeast Asia. So why its sitting in China town passing itself off as a Chinese fruit I’m not sure, if it was in a normal supermarket you wouldn’t know where its from and you wouldn’t question it. With its strange properties in skin, size and being yellow in colour, it fits in with the bright colours and other different foods in the Chinese food stores so it’s a fascinating object or piece of fruit. I wish there had been no language barrier to have found out more about this interesting food and to have maybe tired some. They weren’t buying much of this fruit, taking a slice then covering it in cling film, so maybe the Chinese use this fruit for different things to what they do in Asia?

You move to a completing different culture when you walk over to Covent Garden, the people have a different attitude towards you, being the person, drawing your surroundings. There was a little open door with a little paper theatre set in the doorway. It was in a glass case, so it felt like it was fragile and special to someone, that it meant something? Walking up the staircase you don’t know what to expect, but a toy shop is not one of them. It was full of everything a little boy would dream off. Crammed full of puzzles, joke books, diabolos, puppets and at the back of this shop were more paper theatres. A large one with a stage which had characters on you could move with sliders on the side, it had stalls on the side of the stage, with mini characters inside also. They were pristine in shape, little cut-out figures. The colours of these were incredible also, different colours for each stage, one red, yellow and gold, another blue silver and white. There were signs saying, do not touch fragile, but all you want to do is play with them, its like a grown up dolls house. A girls face on her birthday being given one of these, you wouldn’t know what to do, play or just stare at it. It sets Covent Garden very well, being that there are performers outside the window of this toy shop, acting, telling jokes, jumping through hoops to entertain the crowd and this is what these theatre sets are doing too. Its an atmosphere here of fun, laughter and enjoyment. The huge bowls of paella that also sit outside this shops door are injected with colour of the yellow rice, pink prawns, green peppers like the reds, yellows and gold’s in the theatre sets which just make it feel magic. It’s a completely different feel to China Town yet they are so close together and are both full of people and noise yet worlds apart.

Soho is a mixture of Covent Garden but with added cool, sex shops yes, but also lined with fabric shops that are growing into the street as well enticing you in. Stalls selling food, wraps, toasted nuts covered in sugar, spice and all things nice. Corner shops selling the most amazing magazines under the sun, you could buy them all and not know where to start they are incredible. But then I walked past this little gallery called The Riflemarker, which I’ve been to before and unfortunately it wasn’t open this time. Last time I went in there were three levels, the ground floor with pictures in, the first floor you get to by walking up a thin winding ladder that looks like its about to break, the floor boards creak, then there’s the lower ground. In it were two panels of magnetic metal or something, which each had around 30 little squares on it, all in different colours, slowing changing colour and they were magnetic so you could move them around. There was a little remote on the boards, and if you pressed the button they all changed colour automatically then continued in their cycle of changing. It was slightly like a jellyfish pulsing colour through its veins. One amazing thing we found out was if I put my hand on a green square, and my Dad had his hand on an orange square, if we then held hands, with our other hand still on the squares they would somehow connect and my Dads square would suddenly change to green. This was amazing, it was like an electric connection was happening between us and the squares, the same thing happened again between a blue and a red square one of the squares turned red. This little gallery on a side street in Soho held this amazing piece of artwork and it fitted in brilliantly in its surroundings, if it was placed in the National Gallery it wouldn’t fit in so well, that’s what’s great about these little unknown galleries they hold treasures and if everybody knew it wouldn’t be the same.

These three places, so close together yet worlds apart all hold different things which make them unique, whether it be a fruit, a paper theatre set or a little gallery but they all suit their homes were I found them, they belong in the right place. Exploring these places was a great experience, there is still loads to be found but that’s the beauty of it, its always changing so you never will explore it all.

Thai Jackfruit

Paper Theatre Set

Art work in The Riflemaker

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