Turnpike Lane Underground Station in the 1920s, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

Turnpike Lane Underground Station in the early 1930s, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

Convivencia (Spanish for co-existence) is a project by two migrants to this country, Prof. Haim Bresheeth (SOAS) and Prof. Reza Tavakol (QMUL) about the migrant communities in North East London, and specifically in Turnpike Lane. The project is part of the large exhibition dis/placed, organised by the Counterpoints Arts team in London, to be shown at the Ditch, in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, from June 16th to June 21st, 2015. For more information on the exhibition, in which more than 40 artists are participating, please use the link dis/placed to view details and book a place for the Private View.

Tottenham Lane webpage

Tottenham Lane in 1873, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

Turnpike Lane, called Tottenham Lane until 1893 and less than 800 yards long, is at the heart of the New London, a microcosm of the Global metropolis; here, more than 120 languages are spoken, and people from all parts of the world live and work in close proximity. Their cultural heritage is what makes the road so special – every single door leads to another part of the planet, to another part of world history. The people living and working here have come to London as a result of wars, crises and conflicts – all parts of the world are represented in what must be one of the richest human tapestry anywhere. This is London at its most vibrant iteration – a world community living in harmony, where difference is an asset, not a problem.

Tottenham Lane in 1873, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

Turnpike Lane in 1894, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

We wish to capture and display the flavour of this cultural, linguistic and ethnic environment through a media installation using video, still photographs, maps sound and text. We have chosen 10 people who live/work in this street, and filmed/photographed/recorded them in their normal environment – shops, restaurants, cafes, or even, the Hope Community Centre.

Turnpike Lane in 1874, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

Turnpike Lane in 1914, curtesy of the Bruce Castle Museum

We plan to extend this project to cover more migrants working in Turnpike Lane, as well as indigenous residents and deal more broadly with the history of the area. Turnpike Lane, under its former name of Tottenham Lane, was one of the few entry points into London from the north, and housed the toll-gate, or Turnpike, until well into the 19th century. It continues its role as an entry point into life in London for thousands of migrants, year after year, enriching us with its wide variety of cultural references.

We have designed the displays in a modular form, so that it can travel and be put together relatively easily. We hope that it will contribute to a better understanding of migrants and their life, crucial for all of us in London.

We wish to thank all the kind and generous people of Turnpike Lane who have generously given us their time and assistance on this project – we have learnt from them all, and they have enriched our experience of our environment, and of living in London. May they all prosper.

Haim Bresheeth  and Reza Tavakol, June 2015

To see a selection of the images and read the words of the people we have interviewd and included in the film and exhibition go to The People of Turnpike Lane

Opening night picture gallery