For us, there is absolutely nothing better than a fantastically insightful, informative article accompanied by beautifully executed illustration or photography. This is why we, and most other magazine readers, enjoy The Gourmand so much – it is absolutely full of well-thought-out, intelligently considered combinations of curious text and image combinations. In their latest issue they asked prolific writer and chef Simon Hopkinson to delve into some of London’s oldest and most treasured butchers, bakers a food-peddlers – some no longer standing, some still going strong.
“We got to talking with Simon about all the shops in Soho that he frequented in the 70s – delicatessens, fishmongers, specialty and continental food shops – all run by French, Italian, Polish, British and other European proprietors,” The Gourmand tells us. “Back then you could survive as a small business selling mushrooms or cured fish, but Soho rent increases throughout the 80s and most certainly the 90s pushed all but a handful of these business out – some of which had been there for 40, 50, 60 years.”
They they began rummaging through archives, hunting for information and images that could lead to people who owned or worked in these shops. “Most helpful was the collection held at the City of Westminster Archives, who catalogue their books and newspaper clippings by street. Everything we found reinforced the story of a bustling culinary neighbourhood that was eventually lost to developers and more moneyed ventures. Using the photos as a reference point, Alice Tye brought her elegant hand to creating monochrome oil paintings that recreated these shops, none of which exist now. Alice is a wonderful artist and someone we had wanted to work with for a while. This piece seemed like the perfect opportunity.”
Ex-It’s Nice That Graduate Alice Tye is the perfect person for the job. Her subtle, emotive paintings are often nods to pop culture and themes brought up in films or fiction. Her style, although painstaking, is friendly and informed – making her the perfect candidate to easily communicate this subculture from days gone by. “To make the five illustrations for The Lost Shops of Soho feature I worked from old photographs and newspaper clippings collected by Ananda Pellerin of The Gourmand from various archives around London,” Alice tells us. “I really wanted to capture the shop owners’ characters, so I tried to keep the focus largely on the people in the images. Although, I also love how busy the shop’s interiors were, with hanging meats and counters full of different types of fish, something that is quite unusual to see in any shops around Soho now!”
Get your copy of the fourth issue of The Gourmand over on their website.