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Why Rachel Whiteread loves London

July 2011

 Page 1 of 1
Rachel Whiteread is a Turner Prize-winning artist and has a commission in development for the Whitechapel Gallery as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad
Artist Rachel Whiteread in her studio
Eamonn McCabe/Camera Press London

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'There's so much I love about London — its grittiness, the cultural diversity...I couldn't really live anywhere else. I've spent time in Berlin and New York, but always come back here. I'm a real Londoner at heart.

'I was born in Ilford, which is very close to the Olympic site, and have strong childhood memories of that area. I remember it being a strange landscape back then, there were still farriers and other weird and wonderful industries.

'I live in Shoreditch now and it's my favourite part of town. The City itself is fantastic too, particularly at weekends when it's empty — I love the amazing juxtaposition of the old and the new.

'The Thames is very close to where we live. It's a great, great asset. I love cycling along the Thames Path on the south side or going along the canals up towards the Olympics site. If you take the cycle path at low tide you can go beachcombing, or 'mudlarking' as we call it. My two boys, aged five and ten, love it. We've found everything from old pipes to lead balls from ammunition and bones.

'I think London's great for kids. I grew up in Muswell Hill and was always larking about in great parks like Highgate Woods. There are so many green spaces — besides the likes of Regent's Park, Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath, places like Haggerston Park in east London and Epping Forest, a little further afield, are brilliant and not on the tourist map.

'I remember being excited by London as a child — getting a bus into town, going up what was then the GPO Tower. I'd always go to Camden Market as a teenager — my mum had a stall there at one point. The Natural History Museum and the British Museum are amazing too.

'I don't eat out that much these days, but love St John Bread and Wine for both the food and ambience. Broadway Market has some great cafés, and Moro on Exmouth Market is another favourite, and has a new little tapas bar next door. The Owl and the Pussycat is a good gastro-pub in Shoreditch, and I like the Vietnamese places on Kingsland Road. For a romantic dinner though, somewhere like J Sheekey's in Covent Garden would be a good choice.

'I love shopping locally, and close to me in Shoreditch, around Cheshire Street and Redchurch Street, there are lots of independent, interesting trendy boutiquey shops — you sometimes can't quite work out what they're selling! More mainstream, Selfridges is a good one-stop shop, and John Lewis is my absolute favourite for everything apart from clothes.

'As an artist, London continues to be a great inspiration — it's a large part of my sketch book, particularly around Shoreditch. There are, of course, amazing galleries. The East End is full of little galleries, with Viner Street a bit of a hub. Whitechapel Gallery is one of my favourites though. I'm working on a façade frieze for the gallery for the Olympics, it's on one of the main roads to the site. We're hoping it will cheer it up — and welcome those en route to the Games.'

 

Posted by Charlotte Metcalf

Tags

Rachel-Whiteread, 2012-Olympic-and-Paralympic-Games

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