Being a Derivist

Author: Reporter, Projects, Reporter, Visits, Visual Research, Walks

Drifting Down Brick Lane

Last Tuesday was an introduction to the new studio brief that focuses on the role of the reporter and looks at the inter-relationship between location and experience. In order to to this, exploring geographical locations and recording experiential narrative is necessary as a starting point. Using Debord’s theory of the Derive, I drifted down Brick Lane and began documenting.


First Walk

On the day of the briefing, we were asked in the studio to go out and explore Fournier Street and Brick Lane. I started my walk on Fournier Street, mostly because it’s a small rather quiet street off Brick Lane and I thought it was the perfect place to make any initial observations. And rightfully so, I noticed myself stopping to look at anything that had a pattern or texture of some sort, even if it was in the most mundane of places.

The walk didn’t go to plan because I found myself in a small group with two other people and noticed I was subconsciously being influenced in directions towards things. This meant I wasn’t entirely being true to the theory of the Derive and allowing myself to be attracted by the terrain. It was then I knew I would have to redo the walk alone in order to achieve the experience I wanted.

Second Walk

Today I did the walk again and found it much easier to look at interesting things and be more focused on being in the environment. However the many times I’ve walked down Brick Lane because I’m doing a project on it made me shut out and ignore so many things along the way because I’ve noticed them once before. I then walked towards the end of Brick Lane till I stopped outside This Shop Rocks, a second hand junk shop that sells a range of previously owned old items.

I love old things because of the wonder and mysticism they hold. Especially with old objects, I find it enchanting to think about where they came from, and the stories they had before they ended up in that particular place – even more so if it’s a second hand shop where they’re ultimately sold to be part of new stories. This junk shop is surprisingly a place I’ve never been to before, despite feeling like I’ve exhausted the exploration of Brick Lane,  so I was able to look with intrigue.


Shop interior

It was an extremely packed shop with pile upon stack upon box upon shelf. I was at times afraid I would knock something over. Therefore it was just impractical to draw on site but I did manage to take photographs (with permission) and film a quick video of the space (below).

After Looking these intricate objects and the potential stories they harbour, I began thinking about other places on Brick Lane that collect previously owned things. Instantly I thought of the countless vintage shops and decided to go into Blitz, to see how it compares and if the atmosphere was the same.

The variety of colours and patterns and textures on clothing rails, as well as the colours of the shop itself, very much made me feel as though there were aged stories attached to many of the things being sold there. Although, because of it’s organised appearance it felt more like a forced and constructed history as opposed to an authentic one like that of This Shop Rocks. However I did still like the small collections of old things that were displayed together even if it was slightly more polished.


Blitz Interior, downstairs.


The collection of objects within the two shops reminds me of Joseph Cornell’s boxed assemblages and how often they were constructed from found objects which in a way is how I thought of the two shops. Huge boxes that house these collections and stories.

Because I was unable to draw, however, I need to now work from some of my photographs in order to create black and white images suitable for lino cut. It is important from my previous lino cut experience that the images are simple as well as ensuring the thickness of line will work to be cut using a lino tool.


Joseph Cornell’s boxed assemblage (credit:





3 thoughts on “Being a Derivist

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