Through young eyes: a new take on old Dalston

© Tal Brosh

HOW EXTRAORDINARY that drawings by a young artist can reveal a new way of looking at a set of buildings in the midst of a conservation battle between local people and their borough council. 

The sketches on this page are by Tal Brosh, who lives in a nearby Victorian mews.

They make the decaying properties at Nos 48-76 in the neglected Dalston Lane terrace look striking, if not beautiful. 

Outrageous, surely, when so many people are trying to save these remnants of Hackney’s Georgian past? Brosh explains: “The terrace is the first thing I see every

© Tal Brosh

time I leave the house and get to the main road. At first when I moved to the mews, the terrace used to disturb me – it looks a bit scary – then with time it just became the norm. 

“My dad came to visit me from abroad and I imagined what he would think of my life when he gets here and see all these derelict buildings. 

“That, together with the massive change the area has been going through, and the plans to renovate the terrace, made me want to capture the state of things.” © Tal Brosh

Born in a desert town in Israel, Brosh moved to London 12 years ago. She tells Loving Dalston: “I think it’s a real shame that the council wants to demolish the buildings, it’s a shame that they are not putting more effort into preserving the buildings’ features and the interesting stories they contain.”

In the struggle to save the terrace from the Phillistines, the public has forced Hackney council to back down from its demolish-and-rebuild order to builder-developer Murphy. Open Dalston, which was set up to preserve the terrace, has exposed faults in the council’s procedures, as has a structural report Hackney itself commissioned.

The report, by design consultancy Alan Baxter Associates last September 2013 said that though the terrace was in poor condition, it could be kept.

Demolition might be necessary  because the council scheme involved removing ground-floor walls for open-plan shops. That would have to change if the  the facade were to be saved.

Under such pressures, the council is allowing the Hackney Society access to the buildings, along with conservation engineer Ed Morton, of the Morton Partnership, to find a way to keep the terrace facades and whether the potential exists for a proper conservation repair or even retention scheme.

Time is running out, however: any objection has to be submitted early next month March 2014, when the council hopes to have in order its paperwork for its demolish-and-rebuild plan. 

The freelance illustrator Brosh says: “I am happy that something is being done about making the street look less third world. But I wouldn’t want it to look like another Barratt Homes estate.”

David Altheer 190214© Tal BroshTal Brosh can be contacted via info@talbrosh.com

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One thought on “Through young eyes: a new take on old Dalston

  1. I have to say, looking at the art here serves one very practical purpose: you can see the entire run of shops in one hit and this is great for a comparison with Murphy’s computer-rendered proposal.

    For a start, you see a characterful representation (hand-drawn?) of an interesting (if dilapidated) row of buildings versus a bland/lifeless computer-generated rendering of the new- builds. Maybe Murphy should employ this artist to come up with some ideas.

    Regardless, you immediately get an idea of the changes afoot. It’s made me realise that what’s being proposed is not a like-for-like reconstruction of what’s there – which I could support, given the state of the terrace – but something entirely removed. The “heritage likeness” bears no relation.

    If, as Murphy says, this must, for structural reasons, be started afresh, why can’t it at least replicate the features? The ornamental pillars, for example… why can’t they be removed and reinstated?

    The new ones are entirely different. Why can’t the originals be used to generate moulds for the new ones? The windows on the Murphy plan are in different positions and shapes. Why?

    Mansards on the tops… well, if you must, but what’s this break in the middle with two seemingly modern dwellings in. steel? There must be a middle ground between an eccentric policy working around crumbling originals and throwing the whole lot in the bin.

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