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I am very excited writing this entry as those who read it are likely to discover and love an immensely talented, fantastic, London artist.
When I first visited The Charles Lamb pub on Elia Street in Islington, I spent some time looking at the pub’s sign. The sign would certainly qualify as one of the most interesting pub signs in London but there’s something more to it that only a Lamb lover would know. It was just perfect! Charles Lamb’s silhouette is very fitting, a short, very English-fashioned lamb with a hat and a walking stick and his hat in hand.
The artist’s judgment of putting the hat in Lamb’s hand and not on his head is a subtle sign of Lamb’s humility and modesty. Lamb raises against the background of his beloved London where he lived all his life and wrote so wonderfully about in his essays and letters – the fact that a young, Indian girl recognizes London’s landmarks from his essays is proof enough that he wrote passionately about the city.
The large quail is remarkably beautiful and points to Lamb’s signature – Elia – his pen name. If one is to follow the quail, one would see that on the book that is background to the picture, are some of Charles Lamb’s most wonderful quotes. The top one is ‘A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market,’ others include ‘The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth and have it found out by accident,’ ‘It is the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense and have her nonsense respected.’
Perhaps not everyone would notice these details, not everyone would be interested in understanding its deep meaning and reference but for someone who would – someone like me – this gorgeous sign, offers a mighty pleasure, a gift of awe and results in an immediate love for the artist.
The pub’s owner understands the genius of this work and doesn’t lose any opportunity to praise the artist wherever he can. So it wasn’t difficult for me at all to research on the details of the artist and find him online.
When I did, I discovered the beauty, brilliance and awe-inspiring talent of Rob Ryan, who made The Charles Lamb pub’s sign. I wasn’t delusional by any means, here was an exceptionally talented, world renowned artist with exhibitions in England and America, thousands of fans and many admirers – I join that list.
Here’s what is so incredible about this artist – he paints and draws and does things artists normally do but his biggest talent is in cutting paper to art – making such large cities of magical moments cut to be celebrated in paper, pure paper. Imagine large, massive canvases, beautiful stories, gorgeous moments all carefully, brilliantly cut over days and weeks to create masterpieces, the below is just an example. One must really visit his website to see more.
What I really love about this artist besides his talent, magic and sweet, tangerine love for lines is the creation of Ryantown. I love how all things about this artist Rob Ryan form this beautiful virtual, real, visual, tactile world of Ryantown. His website is Ryantown and his shop on Columbia Road is Ryantown.
When Catharine asked me what I most wanted to in my few days in London in December, I gave her my top two things – find Charles Lamb’s bust on Giltspur Street and visit Ryantown.
Rob’s workshop is next door to Catharine’s house at Bethnal Green but we couldn’t be there, also I wasn’t sure if they sold any merchandise at the workshop so we headed to his beautiful little shop – Ryantown.
When we got off a bus to get to Columbia Road I wondered if Catharine got this right. Of course there’s just no doubting Catharine’s perfect navigational skills but how could a fun shop like Ryantown be tucked between long lines of residential space?! As always, I flew behind Catharine as she breezed through to her destination. It was super fun to notice how these residential spaces quietly broke into a fun, carnival of a street. Columbia Road in London is no doubt, one of my favourite places in the city now with sweet little shops, mostly single-artist shops of ceramics, lace, paintings etc. there street also had quite many florists who were now selling Christmas trees.
We found Ryantown easily and wandered in to see, touch, admire and love Ryan’s work. I loved this tile work very much.
I could have bought the entire store but realized that I had already spent a little over my meager budget for the day and that carrying these precious things cautiously in my luggage through ten others countries in the next 25 days would be quite a burden. So I made a small but very valuable purchase – a 2013 table top calendar. As we left the shop, we were greeted by a Santa who asked us for our Xmas wish! I said I want to travel the world.
We were lucky that it was a Wednesday. Through December, Columbia Road celebrations special Wednesdays. This from a website: “For the seventh year running, the independent shopkeepers of Columbia Road will be opening late on four consecutive Wednesdays in the run up to Christmas — offering up a heady mix of eclectic gift ideas, live music, top-notch food and seasonal cheer.”
And what exciting cheer it was! Cider, mulled wine and hot chocolate carts on the road, well-decked coffee shops, and this one band playing outside a pub.
Catharine and I then headed to a sweet little coffee shop and had homemade treats. I loved how everything was so Christmassy, celebrations in every corner, everyone so happy and full of cheer and hope.
There were also some quiet and beautiful corners as this.