Mercy, Mercy

May 26, 2011

I love how much there is to take in on our first Sunday SLICE ramble.

There is:

Me and what I have to do later in the day and all the memories that I carry of these oh-so-familiar streets, (including all the things that I’ve seen happen on these streets, and all the people I know nearby.)

All the other artists and their different rhythms and curiosities. All equally fascinating to me. The phenomenon of our motley group – neither part of the neighbourhood nor not-part of the neighbourhood. (What are we? How strange that we’re suddenly tourists in our own back garden…)

There is the Pevsner Guide – with its dry, authorial voice – which draws and repels me at the same time. Paul reads it very well.

The amazing SLICE photograph (see above) which I try and follow in such a way that makes me feel slightly disembodied (or maybe seasick?) as I negotiate a bird’s eye view with my own pedestrian one.

There is everything else that’s happening right in front of me – people, dogs, cars, roads, sirens, trees, shops, church-spire, signs, light, shadow, wind, heat, throw-away gestures, drunk-dancing (signs of the night before), ghosts (bound to be), histories, regrets, promises, you-name-it…. it’s only early on a Sunday, but already the day is full of it.

(writing myself unreadable notes on the back of the photograph)

Paul tells me that according to Pevsner, the edge of Crispin street had a night shelter. A night shelter with mercy in its title that is now student accommodation. It’s opposite the amazing car park that Steve mentions in his post.

Mercy – original meaning: reward or recompense.

I’m drawn to mercy because it’s an act – both theatrical and everyday.

I look up the site afterwards and find this: This building was formerly the Providence Row Refuge and Crispin Street Convent. It was a night shelter run by the Sisters of Mercy. Men and women would be admitted to the refuge through separate entrances.


a heart full of mercy…

at the mercy of the elements.

I think about the Leonard Cohen song (Sisters of Mercy) and then the Goth Rock band who took their name from this song and eventually disappeared from sight because they stopped recording new material as part of a strike action against their record company (!).

Maybe this is a distraction, as is this note at the end of the description of the night shelter: Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper’s 5th victim, is believed to have stayed here.

Still, mercy draws me.


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