- Posted September 23, 2012 by
Shoreditch, United Kingdom
I've Locked my Love to an East London Fence
As soon as I was tipped off to the emergence of the collection of padlocks opposite Shoreditch High Street station, I couldn't wait to visit.
I have read about and seen photographs of other love lock locations – a custom in which couples inscribe a message or their initials on a padlock and affix it to a fence or other permanent structure, symbolically binding each to the other – but never had the opportunity to visit any in real life.
Now was my chance to not only see one in the flesh (or the metal, I should say) but to contribute to it and watch it grow.
Right now it’s no rival to the iconic love lock locations of Europe or Asia, but the assortment of padlocks in different shapes and sizes, and the red, blue, yellow, green and purple wool and twine woven in and out of the diamond mesh fence in the shape of hearts, is a confident start.
I just hope that prosaic councillors or developers don't scupper it before it has the chance to really establish.
Instead, they should take a cue from the Moscow authorities who have supported the love lock tradition by erecting dedicated iron trees on a bridge over the Vodootvodny Canal. Or the Roman officials who set up a series of posts and chains along the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber after lamp posts on the bridge began to buckle under the weight of so many locks.
Paris Town Hall learnt the hard way. After clearing the magnificent accumulation of locks from the Pont des Arts bridge one night in 2010, they discovered them quickly reappearing on the Pont de l'Archevêché instead.
I’ve seen it claimed that the tradition of love locks goes back to ancient China, where it is said that the securing of a padlock on the Mount Huangshan fence and the throwing of its key off the cliff symbolises the immortal love of a pair of forbidden lovers who, legend has it, jumped to their death from the cliff, hand-in-hand.
In the case of the Milvian Bridge, the custom can be directly attributed to a 2006 novel by Italian writer Federico Moccia, called 'I Want You', in which the fictional couple pledged their love by attaching a lock to the aforementioned lamp post and throwing the key into the Tiber.
Back in present-day Shoreditch, for me, it’s about leaving my mark in some small way on the streets of London with a public yet anonymous tribute to my sweetheart; being part of a communal romantic affirmation and participatory public art installation.
And every time I pass that fence at the top of Bethnal Green Road, I smile at my padlock hanging proudly alongside the other metallic declarations and yarn-based expressions of love.
Long may it, and love, last.