Nestled in the foliage of Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Wharfers can find a selection of images displayed to mark Black History Month.
The month-long exhibition is the result of an open contest by Canary Wharf Arts And Events and the Association Of Photographers for snappers to submit pictures that display the creativity, beauty and strength of the black community in Britain.
The best images have been selected and form the Black Culture In Britain photography exhibition now in place at Canary Wharf.
AOP communications coordinator Suzanne McDougall said: “When you have an amazing topic like this you have myriad possibilities – when you look at the work that’s been submitted you have so many experiences, so many voices coming together to tell very different stories that form part of a whole.
“The space is great for really looking at the boards displaying the work – seeing images at that scale is always very impactful.
“When you start to learn a little more about the person who has been photographed it’s very rewarding and I think revealing of how photography offers so many different routes to come at a particular topic.
“The images are beautifully positioned so you can take some time, walk through the roof garden, appreciate the work and be struck by the talent and diversity on display.
“It’s important to show photographs in spaces like this because people should have access to images.
“It’s a reminder that the cities we live in are made up of people of lots of different cultures and backgrounds – having that exposure to different voices is always a really good thing. It stops people.”
Black Culture In Britain will be on display in Canary Wharf until October 31.
Run as a competition, Black Culture In Britain comprises the gold and silver winners, selected from more than 200 entries by AOP For All, a group that strives to increase awareness of photographers of colour by making both them and their work more visible within the industry. It also includes work by six runners up.
Taking the top prize was Mark Harrison’s image of former Met Police officer and author Leroy Logan – recently the subject of one of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films for the BBC.
Mark said: “I’ve been a photographer my whole life – shooting professionally for 32 years. I started working on the premise that I wanted to avoid a job that involved the same commute every day and that I probably couldn’t do anything else.
“In that time it’s gone from film to digital – from transparency, which was very difficult to use, to negative, which was easier and now digital, which is even easier – the biggest change has been in the element of professionalism.
“That was because most people wouldn’t have had a clue how to shoot slide film whereas now everybody can shoot digitally because it does a lot of it for you.
“We can all produce good results, a few can produce brilliant results, but in the olden days nobody could produce anything unless they were a professional. The whole game has changed massively.”
If you do something well you get asked to do more of it and I’ve always taken pictures of authors,” said Mark, who is based in Tunbridge Wells and has a varied career working for print publications as well as capturing images for TV shows and corporate clients.
“The shot of Leroy I submitted was taken at the same shoot I did for his book cover.
“What happened was, I completed what they asked me to do and he had this incredible suit on, and I just wanted to do something separately for me.
“He had such an amazing presence – my assistant, who didn’t really know who he was, said: ‘My God that man has something’.
“I asked him to stay an extra half hour, changed the lighting and tried to capture that intensity.
“He really liked it – I sent it to him afterwards, but it never got used and I kept it as my memento from that shoot. Everybody in the room talked about him for ages afterwards.
“He had extraordinary stories and the Small Axe film had just come out so his whole life had just been put on screen.
“We’ve stayed in touch ever since and I just think he’s quite something. He represents a lot about London, about changing times and how race has changed in my lifetime. To me he’s a symbol of lots of things.
“In my game, anything to do with the AOP is hugely important – their contests are the gold standard of achievement. I submitted this image because this topic came up and I thought: ‘This is perfect’. I was absolutely staggered to have my image named the gold winner.
“I’m personally really thrilled – I’ve never won anything with the AOP before.
“One of the reasons I thought Leroy to be interesting as a submission was because I guessed most people would represent younger black culture. He’s had an incredible life, experienced terrible racism and he’s done so much.
“I’ve photographed many people of significance and I’ve never forgotten him – he’s very cool.”
Everywhere, normal life is reasserting itself. Inboxes are buzzing, people are getting back in touch and returning to the office – Canary Wharf hasn’t been this busy since the first three months of 2020.
It’s time to get out and meet again, to shrug off the PJs, shift those extra pandemic pounds and get in shape.
The solution? It’s not home workouts. Contorting yourself to see a tiny figure on your phone flexing something is so first lockdown.
What’s needed is consistent, energising, professional help and boutique, pay-to-train fitness studio, Sweat By BXR in Canary Wharf has an offer that’s hard to resist.
“We want to encourage people out of their offices and homes,” said managing director Alex Nicholl. “We want people to come and enjoy the experience, to get back in the studio.
“Once people have done that, we then have two introductory offers that work out at £10 per class for a number of sessions.
“With the complimentary class, we just want people to come in, meet us and try out a workout. It’s that simple.
“People just need to scan the QR code on the following page, enter their details and we’ll send them a voucher code that can be used for any of our classes.
“That’s a really good, free and then cost-effective way to get into our studios and experience what we have to offer.”
Specifically the brand’s Crossrail Place branch has two workout spaces that are currently home to three classes – Sweatbox, Strenghtbox and Climb To The Beat.
“We have two concept studios,” said Alex. “One is focused on boxing and the other on Versaclimbing. On the boxing side we have two classes – one designed around boxing and bodyweight exercises that we call Sweatbox.
“The other is designed around boxing plus resistance and weight training – that’s Strengthbox. They both have music and lighting as part of the concept and a really fun atmosphere.
“The studio can hold up to 30 people – 15 can be working out on the heavy bags, while the other 15 are working out on the floor using equipment or their own bodyweight.
“One of the big differences in our product and those offered elsewhere is that our boxing classes come from our heritage with BXR – our concept boxing gym in Marylebone.
“All of our instructors are either current fighters, former fighters or have worked at a high level in boxing so you get a really great workout.
“All the equipment is available at the studio – gloves and wraps, everything is here. We also do pre and post-workout shakes.
“Our workouts are usually 45 minutes, with at least 41 minutes of exercise and a three or four-minute stretch towards the end.”
Inspired by the regimes of top boxers, who need explosive cardio workouts to compete at the highest levels, Sweat By BXR also has something pretty special.
“At BXR, we opened the first Versaclimber studio in Europe when we launched our Marylebone site in 2017,” said Alex. “It’s a machine at a 75-degree angle that has handholds and pedals to mimic climbing.
“As a machine it’s unique in the fitness world – it’s completely non-impact and burns more calories per minute than any other. It’s a total body workout. You can do an intense interval workout on it – lots of boxers use it before a fight.
“But the first time I tried one, I was on it for an hour and absolutely loved it. There’s a rhythm there, a catharsis in the movement of it. So I sat with some specialists and we were able to conceptualise and create a class for it.
“We launched that in April 2017 and Climb To The Beat became our biggest selling product. The energy, the highs, the pumping music and its crescendos all play into it. I have a background in nightlife so I’m very keen on working with DJs and light technicians to create an atmosphere.
“The energy is unlike anything I’ve seen in a studio before – it’s a particular feeling. The fact your heart rate goes up so high but that you can recover quickly just by bringing your hands down and then go again, makes it a product for everyone.
“Coming out of the pandemic is so much about getting yourself back into a regime – there’s a mental health element to that too.
“Boxing is entrenched in that and the highs from Climb To The Beat also make people feel really good – they walk out of a class with smiles on their faces. We really want people to come and experience that.
“Our pay-ast-you-train model offers our clients a lot of flexibility and that’s key, particularly at the moment.
“We’ve extended all of our expiry dates so people get greater flexibility and can buy a pack of classes, keep them and use them when they need to train.”
VERSACLIMBERClimb To The Beat is Sweat By BXR’s most popular class with participants following the beat of the music on their machines, increasing and decreasing intensity as the sounds ebb and flow.
Beloved of osteopaths and physios, the machines are non-impact meaning the risk of injury is reduced.
Sweat is currently developing a new class, Performance, that will use heart rate monitors to gauge intensity. It’s expected on the Wharf in 2022.
With capacity for 30 people, Sweat By BXR’s boxing studio draws on boxing concept gym BXR in Marylebone.
The workouts offered within – Strengthbox and Sweatbox – include full body exercises, punching skills and instructors who are either fighters or involved in the sport at a high level.
Participants alternate between floor-based workouts and using the plentiful heavy bags to the rear of the studio space.
New venue by Incipio Group will reflect its lush surroundings with plenty of greenery all around
“Unfortunately it’s a building site at the moment, so we can’t go inside yet,” said Incipio Group’s head of creative development, Rory Graham. It was less than two weeks before Pergola On The Wharf opened and we’d met to chat about the venue that will see the vast unit at the eastern edge of Crossrail Place Roof Garden transformed following the demise of the company that ran Giant Robot.
Rory’s calm exterior hid what must have been a feverish level of activity in the run-up to its launch on Friday, May 28.
“The best way to describe this venue is what we leant on for its design – the roof garden it sits beside,” said Rory. “It’s an incredible pocket of calm in the middle of the metropolis that is Canary Wharf and we wanted to continue that look and feel throughout Pergola.
“We’ve created a 12ft by 8ft flower wall planted entrance, a whole foliage ceiling and made a bar out of trees. It all plays into our airy, green, crisp style.
“The venue’s 10,000sq ft with two bars, one big open theatre kitchen and private dining space. Then we’ve got a 200-capacity wrap-around terrace looking over the Wharf – we’re incredibly lucky to get this location. In total we have capacity for 700 people.”
Pergola started life under railway arches in Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, gaining its name from the popularity of bookings to sit under the tiny outdoor structure its founders had built.
“We launched in White City in 2016, and on the back of that we opened Pergola Paddington and then we had Pergola On The Roof, which was the original concept – this is the fourth venue within that brand,” said Rory.
“It’s informal, good fun, accessible and there for everyone, whether a large group or a couple coming for dinner and drinks. It might be the after-work crowd, which we’re obviously keen to engage with in Canary Wharf.
“People can expect relaxed DJs, good music and good food. In terms of the food, our executive chef Nick Wyborn, who trained at the Langham Hotel, and recently came over from Mac And Wild, has used land, sea and earth as the narrative for the menu.
“All the dishes relate to that, as does our drinks menu, which has fresh beers, cocktails and coffees during the day and there’s a low and no alcohol section as well.
“On weekdays we’re open from noon-11pm and earlier for brunch at the weekends as well as later into the night.
“We’ll be serving everything from really good burgers to brilliant sharers, small plates and dishes that are great for quick lunches.”
Opening in Canary Wharf was an easy decision for Incipio, with a healthy local market and the prospect of Crossrail trains starting to arrive into the building in the not too distant future.
Rory said: “First and foremost, you only have to look at the other operators here to realise how serious an area this is now.
“You’ve got The Alchemist, The Ivy In The Park, an Everyman Cinema and Darwin And Wallace’s No 35 Mackenzie Walk, so it was a very attractive place to come to.
“Not only that, but it’s starting to see a lot of weekend traffic as well, which we’re keen to tap into. Alongside that, the venue and the location are incredible.
“If you marry all that up together, it really was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. We’re very fortunate to get this unit and very excited to be here.
“As restrictions have eased, the response from the public has been incredible across the group. In our first four weeks we’ve had more than half a million bookings for the summer at our venues, which is really exciting.
“We’ve had great success in west London and we know a lot of our customers live in east London so this is us bringing one of our sites to them.”