Back to Brixton

The heart of the London Caribbean community is now an emerging district poised between authenticity and gentrification

  • Back to Brixton
  • Back to Brixton
  • Back to Brixton
  • Back to Brixton
  • Back to Brixton

David Robert Jones was only one year old when 492 immigrants called by the British government landed on the British coast. They would soon be his new neighbors. It was 1948, and the ship that carried them from the Caribbean archipelagos to the London fog was a former German cruise ship recovered as war booty, the Empire Windrush.
These new Londoners settled in the south of the city, first in Clapham and then in Brixton. David grew up surrounded by their music, and those sounds and culture helped him create David Bowie, one of Brixton's most beloved sons, depicted on a famous mural in Turnstall Roadunder which fresh flowers are brought every day. 
A multi-ethnic neighborhood by definition, the cradle of Caribbean culture in Europe has also been the scene of riots between locals and the police back in the 1980s and 1990s, yet today Brixton is one of the places to keep an eye on to get an idea of the contemporary British cultural avant-garde.
Music, art and food are the focus and the driving forces behind the vibrancy you breathe as soon as you get out of the tube at the Brixton station. The heart of the neighborhood isWindrush Place, named after the ship that changed the destiny of this district. Here are two veritable institutions: Ritzy cinema, founded in 1911 and still proudly independent today, and the Black Cultural Archives, the first and only British center dedicated to the conservation and spreading of African and Caribbean culture in the UK. A venue for meetings, exhibitions, studies and comparisons, the Black Cultural Archives also won the New London Architect Award in 2015. 
On Brixton Road sits Brixton Market, open seven days a week, selling exotic and bizarre goods and food from all over the world. Featuring both outdoors and indoors areas, it is the kingdom of ethnic street food. This maze of stalls, kiosks and restaurants has long been a place of nostalgia, yet today it is not only a destination for fans and enthusiasts but also for the locals, especially since the 2000s, thanks to a new injection of of artists, musicians and designers from Asia, continental Europe or simply from other areas of London, attracted by the liveliness of the area and by the unique character of Brixton.
Some call it gentrification, for others it may be just the natural evolution of an ever-changing place, as shown by Pop Brixton, an installation of containers at 53 Brixton Station Road that host start-ups, small shops, kiosks, restaurants, and spaces dedicated to design, innovation and social initiatives. Pop Brixton should stay until fall, but given its success it might stay longer: it is an example of how an abandoned area can be quickly revived and become an authentic cultural hub.
Art and creativity have always been everywhere in the streets of Brixton and today this been somewhat institutionalized: Electric Avenueis dotted with small contemporary/experimental art galleries, and the clubs offer all music genres from hip hop to electro, reggae and rock starting from 11 pm try Electricand 02 Academy.

Author : The Slowear Journal


Brixton  | London  | Caribbean culture  | David Bowie  |

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