Mapping out the Cafe Gallery layout at Hoxton Hall [image: Minyung Im]


We will be updating this page with various images from our Hoxton Hall project.

[latest update: 13 November 2015]

Collecting stories

A Collection of Small Choices is a journey through Hoxton Hall – both the physical building itself, and the 150 years of history that each brick has absorbed. Consequently for this project we've been rootling through Hoxton Hall's incredible archive over the last couple of years, chancing upon characters and stories to breath life into our ideas. One such character is Olive Christian Malvery (1876-1914), an influential figure in the history of the Hall.

Olive Christian Malvery first arrived in London as a young woman from the Punjab around the turn of the nineteenth century. Surviving photographs indicate that Malvery was part Indian.

Having trained as a singer at the Royal College of Music, she established herself as a performer, an elocutionist, and teacher of English pronunciation. She began writing fiction for illustrated magazines and eventually moved into photojournalism. She was a zealous social reformer and keen on philanthropic endeavour, probably influenced by her Anglican upbringing. Her series for Pearson’s Magazine called The Heart of Things describing her firsthand experiences of poverty in the East End of London caused a sensation and established her as a cultural icon in Edwardian London.

Malvery was not afraid of self-publicity. Her articles included photographs of her in various disguises — organ ginder, flower seller, barmaid, costermonger - which lent authenticity to her adventures (alongside her phonetic transcriptions of working class speech). The overall impression falls between serious social enquiry and play-acting.

Malvery's marriage to Mr. Archibald Mackirdy in 1905 at St. Margaret's Westminster was the Society wedding of the Season. Malvery dressed in her "Indian costume" and invited coster girls (street barrow sellers) from Hoxton to be her attendants. The press characterised Malvery as a liminal figure, a mix of east and west, high and low - a hybrid figure.

Olive Christian Malvery represented a complex ‘Britishness’ that coincided with intense political discussions over Britain's relation to Europe and to the Empire. Her position as an outsider was a useful tool, allowing her to reveal truths about England that were generally hidden from (or deliberately ignored by) those born and brought up in the UK.

Malvery portrait from Pearson's magazine

Malvery portrait detail 1

Malvery portrait detail 2

Malvery undercover as organ grinder

Organ grinder detail 1

Organ grinder detail 2

Malvery report on Hoxton Hall girls club

Girls club detail 1

Girls club detail 2

Making ourselves at home

In March 2015 we spent two weeks on site whilst we installed the physical infrastructure for our piece. We practically lived at Hoxton Hall, haunting corridors and stairwells alongside the last of the building renovation team. The privilege of spending time in this remarkable building was balanced with the challenges of our technical installation and testing. Furrowed brows have been airbrushed out... With thanks to Minyung Im for the images.

Dave soldering lighting connections

Android debug console

Our adapted BLE beacons

Apple testing console

Hannah testing audio beacons

Pete testing beacon placement

Jonathan testing audio beacons

Our bluetooth enabled tilley lamps

Dave wiring birdies

Out of the box

Here are a few images of adverts from old newspapers stored in boxes at Hoxton Hall's archive. Very handy if you happen to need a new pair of kid gloves, boots, a ladies costume skirt, or the services of a draper...

Kid gloves advertisement detail 1

Kid gloves advertisement detail 2

Kid gloves advertisement detail 3

Allen Foster and Co. ad detail 1

Allen Foster and Co. ad detail 2

Allen Foster and Co. ad detail 3

Fragments of a bootmaker's ad

Bootmaker's ad detail 1

Bootmaker's ad detail 2

Fragments of a draper's ad

Draper's ad detail 1

Draper's ad detail 2

Scripts and scaffold

In September 2014 we spent a few days at Hoxton Hall recording sound on site - amidst the restoration works - in order to place our sound-world in the building. We also employed the services of Binaural Beryl, the hard-hatted lady you can see in the images below (she's a tough old bird). Beryl is in fact a Neumann KU100 binaural microphone and has two omnidirectional microphones where her eardrums would be. As our actors spoke in the different parts of the building, she was 'standing' behind, above, beyond and beside them. The effect can be quite eery - it sounds as if the voices are with you in the room. But Beryl can be quite demanding, and she had an extensive retinue in September, which included actors Helen Longworth and Vineeta Rishi, sound designer Jonathan Eato, and production assistant Shannon Punter.

Binaural Beryl on site

Beryl recording on the music hall balcony

Audio cables down from the balcony

Our on-site control room...

...from where directions were piped

Shannon escorting Beryl

Hannah recording impulse responses

Helen recording Matt's script

Beryl, Shannon, Hannah

The other McDonald's

Hoxton Hall was originally known as McDonald's Music Hall. Apart from the building itself, very little survives from the McDonald's era. These images are from a surviving programme found in the archives.

Under the floorboards

Objects found under the floor during restoration works detail the changing shape of an activity shared across time.

Flaming Fuses matchbox [JE]

Flaming Fuses detail [JE]

Flaming Fuses detail back [JE]

Matchbox circa 1870 [JE]

c.1870 matchbox detail [JE]

c.1870 matchbox detail [JE]

Flaming Fuses c.1870 [JE]

c.1870 Flaming Fuses detail [JE]

c.1870 Flaming Fuses detail [JE]

Bryant & May matchbox detail [JE]

Bryant & May matchbox detail [JE]

Bryant & May matchbox detail [JE]

Ardath cork tipped Virginia box [JE]

Ardath detail [JE]

Ardath detail [JE]

Players Weights box [JE]

Players Weights detail [JE]

Players Weights detail [JE]

Benson & Hedges 10s [JE]

Benson & Hedges detail [JE]

Benson & Hedges detail [JE]

image of funders logos: Hannah Bruce and Company; Hoxton Hall; Supported using public funding by Arts Council England; Heritage Lottery Fund; The University of York