Saturday, 20 January 2018
Looking forward to flipping through this new book in 2018. Hoxton Mini Press has produced a new volume about the East-End but this time it goes back in time for 2 decades between the 60's and 80's. Why would I suggest this book which I haven't read yet? For the simple reason that this treasure trouvé has only come to light through the genius of Chris Dorley-Brown. I have had the opportunity to meet Chris recently and he told me how he has lived like an hermit for almost a year. The reason being that the Tower Hamlet Archives asked him early 2017 to dig through their untouched private donations. After careful considerations Chris decided to investigate closely some suitcases, or boxes, of slide films left aside. After weeks of scanning it appeared that a certain man called David Granick had been photographing methodically the East-end for its architectures and aura. He gave away his entire collection to the Council not having any children to pass them on.
After seeing some of his images on screen it is clear to me that the work of this man has to be diffused and shared today. Not only his rigorous discipline is baffling for its methodical mise-en-scene but also his interest in the most benign details. His eye is alert, analytic but sensitive too in the way the urban landscape baths. His compositions are sharp. His use of colour is subtle.
But the strangest thing of all is that the man who unearths such a treasure is a man who has been doing the same for more years maybe and who didn't know anything about Granick's. Even stranger is the fact that we could actually take the work of Granick for being Chris Dorley-Brown's!
Spooky! in a nice way...
Let's leave it here for now and grab a copy
Friday, 10 March 2017
Second and final day visiting the new Greenwich Peninsula on an early beautiful Spring day. I started my tour of the East side, or new developed section, by following the banks behind the Millennium Dome. The path looks more like a highway for cyclist and joggers and the walk is punctuated by diverse art installations. To photograph the O2 and few buildings under constructions are pretty pointless as you are too close to them. The "real" new village emerges after passing the Emirates cable cars terminal. Then follows a succession of hybrid construction with no real interest. Your attention is more drawn towards the mouth of the Thames Barrier where your gaze can be lost in minor delectable details as if observing some classical paintings.
I walked until the vast quarry and ready mix industrial area. The place is quite atmospheric and a real contrast to the new world elevating around it. I walked back towards the centre of the peninsula where more building sites are active. I tried to find relics or signs that would emphasise on the peculiar character of the peninsula but my search ended up fruitless. I continued my journey towards the centre where a vast car park follows a mediocre green and there I was back to the Tube.
The walk was definitely interesting but without surprises disappointingly. The Greenwich Peninsula is this new contemporary hub which forces itself to be attractive especially to the young generations. It is kind of peaceful, kind of central, kind of modern, kind of convenient, kind of arty, kind of high-tech, and so and so...Developers have tried to combine all sorts of attractive elements to invest into this ex-no man's land but the truth is that this patch hasn't had any real personality before, and we could say that they managed to transmit that feeling but with a lot of fuss.
The architecture observed is very shallow, typical of the standard recent post-recession. The blocks are very close to each other, the various styles proposed are really out of date and are to be understood as a continuity of the late 70's and 80's but only with new materials. There is this consistent and sick habit in trying to make our lives better by using a palette of 5 or 6 primary colours as details. This architecture is, again, generic and works hard at trying to hide its defect. It can be found anywhere else in the country and most especially is the neighbour areas of Stratford and Canning Town. Quite a few plots are still available and more is going to be built. The only green area will look meagre in this vast new complex where lives are to be lived in small indoors at high price.
Thursday, 9 February 2017
First part of a two days walk around North Greenwich. I focused my attention to the Western part of the peninsula, the one facing Canary Wharf and going South towards Greenwich village walking down the Thames path until fences of new developments made me walk back towards the Blackwall Tunnel. Made my way back toward the tube station and walk back along the A102 until I reached the drive under the highway, then back to the station.
This first section represents more the industrial area which is still active but all the signs are there to tell you that not for very long. Golf practice, awaiting to be built empty tarmacs, sealed off Thames path, cleared fields and new developments on the rise. Yesterday was a very cold and grey day I therefore decided to shoot in black and white, not for its nostalgic aspect but in order to compare with the next part of the Eastern side (almost fully built) in colour later. I don't believe in the terminology and codes that either bw or colour would instinctively deliver a single feeling or address. I think it is really up to the photographer and how he directs his subject and its narrative. This is not my intention here to draw the viewer towards nostalgia, on the contrary the bw enables me to find more depth in the vacant spaces depicted whereas the way I work in colour wouldn't have produced such analysis.
Sunday, 5 February 2017
Thursday, 8 December 2016
Peter Marshall paid a visit to the new Canning Town area this Summer. This urban landscape in panoramic mode is without recognition. That could be anywhere really. A tiny bit of land surrounded by the Lea mouth has grown towers and is now called City Island, as if the City is now merging with the further East End.