Nestled in amongst St. Magarets House in Bethnal Green, the Grand Union Orchestra stands strong in its ambition to reach the widest of audiences through its music. Likewise it’s so rich in history, it could fill pages in a book! We were very fortunate to speak to Tony Haynes as he is literally busy busy busy, the amount of stuff GUO is pumping out is truly amazing! Read on to find out all about the GUO and please do attend their shows and spread the word!
The Grand Union Orchestra is a national organisation with a keen interest in the music of different cultural origins. As a musician who’s lived in and engaged with musicians in east London, I’ve found myself taking inspiration from the local community in various ways. GUO consists of professional musicians from the diverse cultures celebrated in east London, and we engage with them in our World Choir and our youth orchestra, which works in similar ways with young people, all of whom are east London musicians in their own right.
Young musicians are tutored by older professional musicians from all over the world, particularly from black and minority backgrounds. Our shows at the Hackney Empire, St John’s and Shoreditch Town Hall thus represent the spirit of young people and local communities, tracing the history of trade, the silk road, slave trade and migration. I’ve always been interested in politics, equality, musical activism; not to propagandise but to create great music that represents London today.
Everything I’ve done is constantly evolutionary and one thing leads to another, it’s a sort of dialectical process involving historical ideas and contemporary ones; the Battle of Cable Street is an example, pregnant with modern resonances – the rise of fascism, anti-jewish sentiments and anti-muslim intolerance – whilst making sure that’s not forgotten and dramatizing it all in a way that makes it contemporary.
Your passion for the area
I love Bethnal Green, it’s a great place to work from, it’s so diverse. We’re based in St Margaret’s House, and we’ve developed good relationships with musicians and artists based here, such as from the Bengali and Somali community and the likes of Oxford House and St Johns Church, some great examples of organisations you can collaborate with, we do all we can to encourage people to come. At the same time with things like gentrification, the property prices and associated costs rising I don’t want Bethnal Green to lose its character. When I lived in Clerkenwell, where Grand Union wsa originally based, I saw this pattern move east through Shoreditch, so I want to encourage new residents in Bethnal Green to meet up with their neighbours and learn, interact.
Friday April 5th, St John’s Church, 7.00 – 9.00 pm (bar open 6.45): Sounding Bethnal Green, combining performance, interview, discussion, workshop and participation. The last in the series, this evening looking at East European music flourishing locally, with charismatic Bulgarian percussionist Lilia Iontcheva and the GUO ‘house band’. Pay what you can! Flyer here
Sunday April 7th, Rich Mix, 3.45 – 5.15 pm: Bengal to Bethnal Green. The last in the current series of immensely popular free events, directed by tabla maestro Yousuf Ali Khan, bringing together local Bengali artists with musicians from the Grand Union Orchestra, featuring singer Suzana Ansari. Flyer here
Sunday April 7th, Sunday May 12th, Rich Mix, 10.00 – 1.30: Grand Union Youth Orchestra masterclass. Open to all young musicians aged 12-26 who wish to learn about world music first hand from experts, and/or play non-Western instruments. Free – more information here.
Besides performances by the professional GUO musicians and GUYO, we also run a world choir and a community street band in East London, and produce large-scale shows at the Hackney Empire and Shoreditch Town Hall in which all these groups and local people can take part.
The best way of keeping in touch with Grand Union’s work and opportunities for participation is to check our website www.grandunion.org.uk regularly, join our mailing list and sign up to our newsletter.
GUYO masterclasses continue throughout the year (generally the first Sunday in each month). Other events planned for the spring and summer include further projects ar St John’s and other local venues, and performances by GUO and GUYO at local festivals. Bengal to Bethnal Green will return in the autumn.
Meanwhile, we are beginning a new collaboration with Trinity Buoy Wharf, Rising Tides. This will explore and dramatise the effect of climate change around the world – providing a wealth of opportunities for the participation of East London communities.
Sourdough is all the rave these days, which is why we’re chuffed to be home to Sodo Pizza; boasting excellence in sustainable food practices. We caught up with Dan to find out more about Sodo Pizza and in the process became very very hungry! Be sure to check them out!
As a business we began as a pop up in a bakery. We are made up of a group of friends, all of whom share the same goal with regards to building a sustainable, environmentally conscious business which we enjoy and are proud to work in.
We make pizza using a full sourdough, long ferment method to rise the dough. We use local producers and farmers for our toppings with a focus on seasonal and locally grown produce. We look for opportunities to support sustainable food practices wherever we can which includes using UK grown and stone milled heritage flour in our dough. All of our wines fall into the natural/minimal intervention category. Our mozzarella is made in London using UK milk. All of our disposables are compostable. The aim of the business is to ensure that everyone comes to work and has as much fun as possible.
Your passion for the area
Bethnal Green is vibrant, diverse and exciting to be in. Much like the rest of east London there are many people doing interesting things and experimenting with ideas, concepts and ambitions.
We offer a £1 discount for either re using or bringing your own take away pizza box. Saving the world one pizza at a time. Just let us know when you order so we don’t put it in a new box.
The future will be milling our own flour from heritage grains grown for us by our flour partner. Reduce our waste output to as close to zero as possible and get as close as we can to 100% uk produce on our menu.
Sodo Pizza is located on 266 Poyster Street, E2 9RF. You can also find them on Instagram @sodopizzalondon
Bethnal Green is home to some amazing businesses, and EJ Ryder has definitely got to be up there with the best! A construction service built on a need to be ethical, environmentally-friendly and forward-thinking. We caught up with Edwin Ryder, Founder and Creative Director at EJ Ryder to find out exactly how it all came together, and why he enjoys working out of Bethnal Green so much!
I grew up in Somerset and studied construction management at Bristol University – I never really envisioned moving to London. My background is as a builder working predominantly in joinery on cottages, houses, fitting slate roof houses, flooring and so on. However, building didn’t offer me the sort of creative challenges I was looking for in my professional life.
It was in 2012 that a friend who was a set designer in Dalston Lane asked me to design and fit a plywood kitchen. I packed up and brought over all my tools, stayed in London for 4 months. Once we finished, we took photographs and put them on Facebook – the response was incredible. We had people asking who the designer was, who made this?! I knew then that I was onto something special.
I taught myself CAD in couple of months, as it was essential for communicating information to tradesman. CAD allowed me to become more involved in woodwork, learning about technologies such as laser cutting and CNC (computer numerical control) machining. In 2014, we were working out of an office in Hackney Wick office, but the dream was to find a place to set up a workshop with space for a design studio.
When we first came to Bethnal Green the space was derelict and run-down. At one point we redecorated, only to find out someone had boarded up a whole wall of windows! We had a studio upstairs and the workshop downstairs. There was even someone living at the workshop. We gradually renovated the space to create a studio and workshop on the same floor, and in August 2018 we hosted a party that was attended by over 200 people. Sodo pizza supplied the food, Redchurch Brewery supplied 2 kegs of beer and East London Liquor Company provided the gin. We were able to raise awareness about EJ Ryder and celebrate the space we had created.
We collaborate with clients, designers, architects and contractors to find innovative solutions to their furniture, interior and architectural construction projects. We work closely together to find creative answers to any questions or problems posed. We use all local businesses and metal workers, our CNC company is based in leyton, for example. We hope to expand our existing workshop and studio into the next building across from us, breaking through the walls to create a huge workspace! We ultimately want to be open to the public; call us, email – we want people to come in and look around, we don’t want to be this secret cave in Bethnal Green.
Initially, we didn’t know much about Bethnal Green and we were very much on the lookout for the right space. Once we were here, we discovered something new about the area each week – there’s even a wrestling club around the corner from us. We remember hearing massive slams and grunting noises one day and casually wondered out to find a man in full spandex getting ready! We even found a mirror silvering company, providing backing for mirrors, and Sodo Pizza is just behind our workshop – we built their shop signage. We worked with Get Turner construction, doing £70,000 worth of business with them. Bethnal Green is such a vibrant place – we discover new businesses all the time and we’re always eager to get to know more people. It’s really the best place to be, super friendly and so much going on.
We created a brand in Bethnal Green and expanded purely on word of mouth. Going forward we want to refurbish our studio, shop and workshop and do so responsibly. I want to minimise waste, reuse reclaimed material and ensure the building is as energy efficient as possible. I also want to utilise a local workforce where possible. I want to allow anyone to come in and explore our spaces and be given opportunities to receive environmentally friendly products and services. Since we have this great space, our offering to Bethnal Green is we leave these spaces as flexible as possible; we’re in a prominent location as a base for the Bethnal Green community. We would be happy to host a wide range of talks and events for free, and we are eventually hoping to provide workshops for local school children to discover the joys of woodworking!
We want to be the best furniture designers and makers. We intend to push the use of technological innovation further, to improve ways of working and encourage more extensive collaboration. I want EJ Ryder to be the go-to for precision engineered house building with a social, moral and ethical philosophical approach to this industry. We want to do whatever we can to encourage change for the better.
EJ Ryder is located on 351a Cambridge Heath Road, give them a follow on their Instagram @ej_ryder
Meet Izaak Fox, gym enthusiast and personal trainer based out of Energie Fitness Bethnal Green. We recently caught up with Izaak as part of our growing series of ‘Bethnal Greeners’ conversations exploring the who’s who of Bethnal Green.
Hey, so I’m born and bred in North London, I was never really a sporty child like most boys. I preferred superheroes, drawing and drama. My friends kind of forced me into football but I only really got into it when I was about around 11 and am now a massive Arsenal fan as a result. I was always skinny growing up, at 13 I went to a youth gym and slowly fell in love with working out. Quite quickly my arms got a little bigger, seeing such results got me immediately hooked. In the coming months I found myself doing all I could to get bigger; learning off of my peers about exercise, and doing my own education regarding fitness at home during my spare time. After a year, my gym offered to take me on as a volunteer gym instructor. I had such a great experience here, helping out with maintenance, running classes, and got a free gym membership in return. The instructors themselves taught me more and more each day, and I found myself bringing it all together. I later stopped volunteering at the gym to focus on my exams for school, but always knew it was something I really wanted to do and get back into.
In order to get me started as a health and fitness trainer I attended a six week full time personal training course and then went on to mobile personal training around London. That was during my first year, it was in my second year that I found myself working in Energie Fitness Bethnal Green as a personal trainer. I currently specialise in a lot of areas of personal training, such as fat loss, weight gain, strength training, kettlebells, and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). I like to be an all-rounded PT to be able help every type of client for all their fitness needs and specific goals.
Your passion for the area
What I really like about Bethnal Green is the diversity of people that I get to meet and often work with. The history of the area is a real draw for many people and it’s not hard to imagine why. When I step out of the gym even, there’s just so much on offer in terms of green space, shops, cafés and places to eat and drink.
I offer all members a free complementary PT session to kick start their fitness journey, just get in touch. My aim is to make exercise fun and something that doesn’t feel like a chore through having a friendly personal trainer who keeps you motivated, and laughing.
I intend to grow as a personal training professional, learning the best ways to help my clients reach their fitness goals. I hope to one day become a general manager for a gym and even create a gym of my own.
If you’re interested in getting in touch with Izaak you can contact him on his mobile: +447543807144 and work email email@example.com
At Love Bethnal Green we’re always delighted to bring you a unique insight into all the fascinating businesses and organisations operating from within Bethnal Green. So as part of our growing series of ‘Bethnal Greeners’ conversations we had the real pleasure of speaking to Belinda Leung; the face behind Woolidando. Woolidando is actually a tripartite delight nestled in the heart of Bethnal Green Road! Acting as a café, plant shop and gallery space all-in-one. An interesting setup to say the least, read on to find out more!
Woolidando is a café, plant shop and gallery space all wrapped into one! The idea is something I had been planning for a number of years and after the perfect space came onto the market, the dream finally became a reality in 2018. I am a concept artist and illustrator in the film and gaming industry having worked on major films and for companies like Nintendo and SEGA. I wanted to have a gallery space in the cafe as a way to showcase the art of my peers in the entertainment industries, who are all accomplished artists in their own right, and provide them with a platform to exhibit their personal work. We once held a silent charity art auction which raised £1500 over a weekend. The money went to the World Land Trust in an effort to protect a strip of rainforest in Belize. Our next charity art auction will be in support of Cancer Research, showcasing life drawings from artists in the entertainment industries and a number of local artists.
Our focus is on community and sustainability, we want everyone to feel welcome in our shop and we do our best to ensure that everything is ethically sourced and traceable. Our goal is to change the high street and provide a green space in Bethnal Green whilst raising awareness of environmental issues in the UK and across the globe. We are constantly making improvements to become as low-waste and zero-plastic as possible.
We are a café and a plant shop! Our coffee comes from Ozone Coffee Roasters in Old Street and we have an extensive range of fine loose leaf teas- some of which possess fantastic medicinal qualities. We have a daily changing menu of vegan friendly soups from across the globe, including congee and harira. We also serve a delectable range of sourdough toasties that combine international flavours – the ‘K-pop’ is a must-try! Our organic pastries are delivered fresh everyday and our sourdough bread is from a local bakery just down the road. We sell succulents, cacti and tropical foliage plants, and we also source rare indoor plants for the serious plant collectors. To compliment the plants, we also stock a wide range of plant pots and hand-crafted ceramics made in East London alongside a cards, gifts and accessories for nature lovers.
Your passion for the area
There is nowhere in London that has as much energy as Bethnal Green! We have so much love for the diverse community here and we meet different people from all walks of life every day. Many of our customers are local artists, screenwriters and actors that make up part of Bethnal Greens incredibly creative community, and many of our other customers make the trip down for lunch from the financial district in Liverpool Street. Bethnal Green is also home to many young families too and it’s great to see young people growing up in the area and enjoying all the plants in our shop. The weekend also brings Brick Lane Market and Columbia Road Flower market, which brings great footfall to the area. As an owner, I am particularly appreciative of our neighbouring businesses. They have been incredibly welcoming and we all make an effort to look out for each other.
We don’t want to expand too quickly and hope to make more of an impact locally before branching out. We plan to propose a Sunday food and farmers market on Barnet Grove to bring better food to the area and encourage people to eat more healthily and sustainably. And as a long term mission, we’d like to help with the issue of youth disengagement and drug problems in this part of the borough, which unfortunately feels commonplace.
Got your attention! Woolidando is located on 253 Bethnal Green Road, so what are you waiting for?! Go and show them some love.
As we kiss goodbye to Fool’s Spring, and welcome back Second Winter, the LoveBethnalGreen team is in reflective mood. The seasons have never been so confusing, sun burn at the weekend and soaked thru and freezing by mid week? You what, mate? There are certainly uncertain times ahead, so check the weather, use your layers wisely, and get out and about to enjoy some of these wonderful Bethnal Green based offerings in March..
The Sodo Scribble
Sunday 3rd March, 2pm-6pm
Their pizza is superb and they’re lovely folk – so get along with the kids and get scribbling in E2!
Sodo Pizza, Poyser Street, E2 9RF
Bethnal Green Tube Disaster Annual Memorial Service
Sunday 3rd March, 2pm
The team behind the memorial to Bethnal Green’s tube disaster arrange their annual service, commemorating the tragedy that took place some 76 years ago. In an ever-shifting area and with life sometimes feeling like it moves at 100 miles per hour, this Sunday memorial provides a valuable opportunity to sit still and think, remembering how fortunate we are to live in a relatively peaceful part of the world. Let’s all work hard to keep it that way. There will be an exhibition about the disaster to absorb after the service, and teas and coffees will be on sale.
St. John on Bethnal Green, next to Bethnal Green Tube Station
Dorothy Bohm at V&A Museum of Childhood
Until May 5th
Dorothy Bohm has been taking photographs for over 70 years, ever since her father gave her a camera as she fled Nazi Germany as a child. She has had it with her ever since, photographing little happenings across the globe.
She has gone on to co-found the Photographer’s Gallery, London, become a Tate Artist, and have her work acquired by the V&A.
This display explores the universal qualities of childhood. Despite her photography covering so many decades and so many different cultures and countries, what connects us all through the experience of childhood shines through in Dorothy’s intimate work.
Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA
Sounding Bethnal Green
Friday 1st & Friday 15th March 2019, 6:45pm – 9pm
As much a social as a cultural event, Sounding Bethnal Green is a series of informal evenings combining performance, interview, discussion and practical workshop. Led by professional artists from all parts of the world who have settled in east London, they will highlight the remarkable demographic of the area, its history and the music flourishing locally. Come along and listen, join in, contribute, and of course, meet your neighbours!
1st > Focusing on music and musicians from Bangladesh and Southern India, led by internationally-celebrated tabla player Yousuf Ali Khan.
15th > Focusing on the music of Somalia with Mohamed Maalo Nuur.
St John on Bethnal Green, next to Bethnal Green Tube Station
LoveBethnalGreen Networking Breakfast
Tuesday 19th March, 08:30 – 10am
We continue our breakfast series, this time in partnership with V&A Museum of Childhood, who will kindly host us in their main space. Come along to meet businesses, organisations and individuals working in Bethnal Green. There will be pastries. There will be hot drinks. There will be good people all over the place.
Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA