Artist hopes to reintroduce cockney rhyming slang to young Londoners

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Would you Adam and Eve it?

Cockney rhyming slang, nan lyrical patter that erstwhile punctuated regular life successful London’s East End is astatine consequence of dying retired arsenic young group wantonness its use.

That is nan position of 1 artist, who wants to reintroduce nan dialect to a caller procreation of Londoners and world visitors by drafting attraction to its imaginative nature.

Michael Landy’s Lemon Meringue, which has been installed successful London’s East Bank, consists of a bid of ample fluorescent signs depicting different cockney rhyming slang – rhyming phrases utilized to switch words.

The installation includes phrases specified arsenic “apples and pears” (stairs), “S Club Seven” (heaven), “duck and dive” (hide), “April showers” (flowers) and “dog and bone” (phone), arsenic good arsenic newer additions to nan dialect specified arsenic “chicken jalfrezi” (crazy) which speak to much caller diasporic influences connected nan area.

Fluorescent signs successful orange, yellow, pinkish and greenish displayed connected a wall and lamp-post
The installation successful London’s East Bank consists of ample fluorescent signs depicting different cockney rhyming slang. Photograph: Ben Westoby.

“The Museum of London asked group whether they had ever heard of cockney rhyming slang, and a batch of group hadn’t,” Landy said.

“And nan ones that did said it would beryllium an atrocious shame if it died retired wholly because it’s portion of eastbound London’s identity. Cockney slang was first chronicled successful 1857, but it evidently existed verbally earlier that too.”

Surveys person shown nan immense majority of Londoners are unaware of nan meaning of phrases that were successful communal usage conscionable a procreation ago.

A cyclist passes nan installation connected actual steps wherever 2 women are chatting supra signs that opportunity 'chew nan fat' and 'duck & dive'
Landy said he liked that cockney rhyming slang had a ‘certain charm’. Photograph: Ben Westoby.

Landy, who grew up successful Hackney, eastbound London, said from his acquisition nan younger procreation was mostly unaware of nan slang. “I don’t understand their slang and they don’t understand mine. But I besides cognize an 11-year-old wouldn’t needfully understand a 14-year-old’s slang either.

“What I for illustration astir cockney slang is really humorous and funny it is, it has a rhyming constituent which gives it a definite charm. Whereas a batch of modern slang is evolved from things for illustration drill [music], truthful it’s a spot harsher.”

He said cockney, which was “historically associated pinch nan achromatic moving class”, became “very celebrated successful nan 50s and 70s” and past pinch “mockneys and wrong lad civilization and Guy Ritchie films”. But today, “it’s not seen arsenic fashionable astatine all”.

Landy’s signs connected his installation usage a font akin to tabloid headlines and mimic those commonly seen connected marketplace stalls and closing down shops – things that he’s acquainted pinch increasing up successful nan East End successful nan 1970s and 1980s, and seeing nan recession successful nan early 1990s.

Each motion marks a place, object, aliases activity successful nan scenery done a playful return connected signposting. The artwork is designed to reflects nan area’s rich | and imaginative past, while acknowledging nan fluid ways that connection tin evolve.

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“What I noticed erstwhile we were installing nan useful is you had children and their parents treating it arsenic a wordplay game,” Landy said.

A 'apples & pears' motion from nan installation is displayed adjacent to immoderate stairs. On a adjacent lamp-post is an 'S nine 7' motion from nan installation.
Michael Landy said successful his experience, younger Londoners were mostly unaware of cockney rhyming slang and had their ain phrases that he didn’t understand. Photograph: Ben Westoby.

London’s East Bank is becoming a taste and acquisition 4th astatine nan bosom of nan Queen Elizabeth Olympic parkland successful Stratford – comprising UCL East and nan London College of Fashion, arsenic good arsenic Sadler’s Wells East, V&A East Museum and BBC Music Studios, which are scheduled to unfastened location shortly.

Landy said his installation felt for illustration an excavation of nan past connected this caller site. “I wanted to instal thing fluorescent, I wanted it to beryllium disruptive.”

But nan creator wasn’t capable to see each nan phrases he had successful mind. “I for illustration each nan drunk ones aliases nan unwellness ones, for illustration Santa’s Grotto (blotto), Wallace and Gromit (vomit), Brahms & Liszt (pissed), Miley Cyrus (virus), and Vincent van Gough (cough).

“I did want to put Merchant banker (wanker) successful location and Colonel Gaddafi (cafe)… but they wouldn’t fto maine do that.”

Lemon Meringue besides inspired nan Voices of East Bank task successful autumn 2023, a integer slope of 50 oral histories pinch words and voices of existent residents of each ages successful nan 4 boroughs surrounding nan Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

Landy has antecedently explored nan ocular connection of income and thoroughfare trading including successful his accumulation Closing Down Sale astatine Karsten Schubert’s gallery, London successful 1992.

Source theguardian