Friday 13 November 2015


I am delighted to announce a new book from Chris Dorley-Brown. Busy as ever with his attractive phlegm Chris has managed to produce a masterpiece. This is the first ever book from Overlapse independent publisher and what a result! This is a softcover 168 pages A4 format that takes you through his family past. Family snaps or compositions, objects scanned, letters and recent urban landscapes create an unfamiliar narrative in which you immerse yourself straight away. The story makes you travel but the core remains in East London.

This is a very honest and brave enterprise in which the design plays a key role. There is too much to talk about and my words can't express enough how much I admire the challenge and result delivered by Chris and Overlapse. I can only say, go and visit the website where the book is on pre-sale. This is simply one of the best book I have had in recent years. Congratulations to you both!

Tuesday 20 October 2015


I am delighted to announce that David George is going to be the next artist photographer to release a publication with Hoxton Mini Press. For the occasion there will be a launch Thursday 19th November at the Mile End Art Pavilion from 6.30pm til 9.30pm. Clinton Road E14QY

Thursday 8 October 2015

E20 zone 2

Few days ago I came across this advert on a Central Line train. I need to think a bit more about it but there is something fishy here. One part makes me upset the way it is promoted and the other welcomes it as the East becomes more mainstream but to what cost?

Tuesday 19 May 2015


1/ Susan, let’s first talk about Photographs from the Car series. You describe your desire to photograph Whitechapel High Street as a way to “alleviate the frustration of the heavy traffic” but did you feel now there was an under current that made you want to document the transient East End?
I suppose it was both really. When you look at this section of the A11 (the historic road into London from Colchester) from Bow to The City of London, it represents a real cross section of our modern society, both socially and culturally. Additionally, a sense of this mixed community is very much apparent in the architecture of the street; I never tire of looking out of the window at all the people and change. In some ways I feel as if the street represents a microcosm of the world, as if all humanity is somehow represented there! It obviously isn’t but sometimes it really feels like that and it’s so exciting. My journey to work seems to take me around the world!

2/ How would you compare that notion of flux experienced whilst driving/shooting the environment with the digital era?
I’ve never considered comparing it to the digital era.  Of course the digital era brings with it a large amount of rapid change, which is ongoing and affects all aspects of our lives. Photographically speaking, digital technologies have made this project possible, through the adaptability of image capture irrespective of light levels and the low cost of shooting multiple frames, enabling rapid response to diverse situations.

3/ What did you learn from that process? Has it changed your practice?
I suppose I’ve re-learned the joy of simple looking and recording, which is such a refreshingly uncomplicated way of using the camera and it probably takes me back to where I first started: looking at what surrounds me and making a record. This is not a conceptual piece, I have merely responded visually to what I see, which has been quite liberating. This is not to say there is nothing to be considered that arises from the work because I believe it does raise issues about the structure of society, modern urban living and the positive aspects of integrating social classes and culturally diverse communities; this is something to consider when we plan our cities.

4/ Would you continue this series over a long period of time? Has it triggered new projects?
Not really any new projects, it’s very much contained as a discreet piece of work but I love it because it keeps me looking closely. I have already made the photographs for a long time now, since 2008, and I don’t really know how to stop; there seems to be no reason to do so but I have slowed down as some things seem so familiar now and work on the road comes and goes. It’s not as intensive as it was, although that could, of course, change again.

5/ Do you see this series as a turning point in your career?
I don’t see it as a turning point, just something else, which is very different from the work I have made more recently which has been connected with intimate photography, portraits, representation and perception, a large proportion of which was staged and collaborative. Here, I operate as a largely unseen observer. It felt very strange initially not to ask, just to wait and watch from the car windows. However, it doesn’t feel like exploitation, probably because I genuinely love what I see and record; the project feels like a celebration of life.

6/ Now let’s talk about this vast project you direct which is the East End Archive at the Cass. Could you explain how the idea sprang? What are the goals?
Firstly, it’s not yet a vast project, although it does have potential to be so. Initially, the idea came though a team of staff at the University talking to a local photographer, Paul Trevor about his huge collection of work. He had lived off Brick Lane for over 30 years and had amassed a great archive. The first deposit made to the archive is of 270 images of this work, published online by VADS. From this we decided to build a contemporary archive of the area looking at  only bodies of photographers’ work in order to maintain a context for understanding the images, which means there are no one off images. All the collections so far are relatively recent, from the 1960s onwards but represent very diverse practices, from works of the imagination to traditional documentary. Some of the photographers include: Tom Hunter, Brian Griffin, Jo Spence, Steven Berkoff, Mike Seaborne, David George and Don McCullin.  We also collect lesser known photographers and this is also important so that we represent work outside the mainstream too. The work is largely digital and the photographers retain control over all aspects of their work. We use the material only for exhibition and educational purposes but the digital collection is available to students and the public.  We are also currently working with Graham Diprose and Mike Seaborne on a digital conservation project. The collection has grown organically to date as people with an interest in the area approach us with possible collections of work. However, the process is slow as funds are very limited. We hope to find a new home for the archive later this year in the former Women’s Library in Old Castle Street and I expect this to be an opportunity to expand the archive and seek new funding.

7/ You also integrate other archives such as Jo Spence’s and Found Images. I personally really love this diversity of sources. Can you tell us why is it so important to you? 
Well, the archive represents all kinds of practice, as I mentioned before, and really keeping a broad cross-section of committed practice is essential as it reflects both the photographers concerns and the ethos of the area itself. Photographers work in myriad ways and this fascinates me; the photographic approach is so tied in with the message and indeed often functions as a cultural signifier of its time. Jo Spence worked for many years in Hackney and it seemed such a great opportunity to include this very important work in the archive. Our understanding of East End as a place of constant change and shifting boundaries, an area existing on the margins outside the mainstream, also made Jo’s ground-breaking work a significant collection for us. The found images  you mention were rescued from a skip when the Geography department at the University closed; they had been kept since the early 1970s (originally made to document the widespread changes in the area at the time) and jettisoned when the University itself underwent fresh changes at the end of the century.

8/ How do you feel about integrating new technologies and accepting a wider spectrum of interpretations in this project? Do you separate what we understand as Photography and Image Making from your context?
We see photography very broadly as any lens-based  or light-sensitive work, we want to look at how the images are made and how the process contributes to meaning and an understanding of the area. Essentially, we are a digital collection, with only a few artefacts. The decision was taken to be digital both due to limited storage space and because we wanted to extend the learning opportunities offered by new media. However, much of the work has had a different technical origin, which is something we discuss when we put the collections together.  We are looking for ways of making the most of new technologies from a technical, conservation and art perspective, and we are interested in work which combines old and new media in order to extend the boundaries of practice.

9/ As a Photography Reader at the Cass you have a unique understanding of how younger generations engage with Photography. What are the tendencies observed in the recent years? Do students still embrace a sort of documentary style or do they distance themselves towards abstraction? 
In fact, lately there has been a renaissance of interest in both street photography and analogue practice, particularly amongst the younger cohort. Whether this is a reaction due to the predominance of staged work in recent University practice or due to renewed social engagement as a response to issues such as  austerity, I’m not sure. Maybe both factors contribute? I think the interest in analogue work is definitely a response to the prevalence of digital photography and the “throw away” aesthetic, which is rooted in a lightly considered technical and intellectual approach. Analogue methods offer the opportunity to “carefully consider” and re-connect with photographic practice,  re-bestowing value on the work. Of course, everyone uses Facebook, blogs, Instagram and the Web to network but  I believe young photographers want to make something meaningful, that they can connect with. Of course, some are exploring the new technologies and non-representational work too but I think there is a bit of an “analogue ethos” in the approach to their practice: slow down, think carefully and extract meaning from the superfluity.

10/ Last and vast question (sorry) about Photography today. Where do you position yourself? Do you feel Photography in UK is different from elsewhere?
A big question indeed and too vast to accurately answer. Personally, as an educator, I’ve had a tendency to adopt a variety of photographic processes that reflect my research interests and this particular work is broadly speaking a long-term documentary project, with no defined end. The East End Archive represents, I hope, a broad approach to documentary practice which reflects contemporary interests. Its focus is essentially on building an archive for the future, rather than representing a retrospective of past practice, although UK photography has had a long tradition of documentary work and these collections build on that tradition.  Of course, it is inevitable that photography reflects its cultural and temporal roots,  it’s literally the mark made by light bouncing off a surface at a particular moment in time; and the photographer’s gaze falls on subjects selected out of personal interest in a specific space at a particular time, so yes, Photography is always different everywhere. Some interests and practices will, of course, overlap in different cultures, particularly now we have access to so much influence. But I would like to finish with a quote from Paul Graham, which sums up so well what photographers in different parts of the world strive for:

“And hopefully I will carry on, and develop it, because it is worthwhile.  Carry on because it matters when other things don't seem to matter so much: the money job, the editorial assignment, the fashion shoot.  Then one day it will be complete enough to believe it is finished.  Made.  Existing.  Done.  And in its own way: a contribution, and all that effort and frustration and time and money will fall away.  It was worth it, because it is something real, that didn't exist before you made it exist: a sentient work of art and power and sensitivity, that speaks of this world and your fellow human beings place within it.  Isn't that beautiful?”

Yale MFA Photography Graduation, February 2009.

Saturday 16 May 2015


After completing my previous major series Arteries of a new East it appeared clearly that the next area on the list of regeneration would be Silvertown. It has plenty of vacant spaces and quiet surroundings despite the constant air traffic from City Airport. It has plenty to offer, a lot of potential from its strategic and unique location. Isolated from most major roads, Silvertown has a singular pace due to its peculiar relationship with the Thames that surrounds its parameters inside-out. It is ideally located for the ones who work in Canary Wharf. It is also few stops away from the new Stratford hub and of course minutes away from the airport which must be one of the best in UK.

I started my walk from Canning Town towards the southern parts. I then curved my way up to Gallions Reach which is a sort of dead end. I then walked along the north banks of the bassin through the UEL district, Beckton Parks and Excel exhibition centre. Finally back to the new Canning Town train station approach with a view on the emerging LondonCityIsland development.

Silvertown is changing rapidly. It has been an industrial hub in the early XXth Century and it declined progressively similarly to the rest of the East End. Canary Wharf, DLR and Airport were built one after the other to suit the idea of making financial business more fluent and practical. Beckton was the nearest residential area whereas the rest of the peninsula hosted the ghosts from an industrial past. But today London must build more to house its ever growing population. After the 2012 Olympics it suddenly became all too obvious that we couldn't afford to invade the land   horizontally and consequently the East End is embracing the vertical more than anywhere else in UK.

To build this way is certainly an inevitable way forward to all major cities but what gives you the vertigo isn't their height but their prices. As usual politicians, property developers and councils adapt the charitable lie to benefit the local communities first in those new projects. Of course, the reality is a different story. Only the richest can afford them and most commonly foreign investors.

Visit this new work at , Stories/Silvertown New Rise

Thursday 9 April 2015


New show organised by the London Independent Photography group with Mike Seaborne.

Six photographers explore various social housing projects from the 1960s and 70s; an era of radical architectural determinism and social restructuring. What can we learn today, in a time of great uncertainty in social housing, from their successes and failures?
Runs 8-19 April 2015
Private View 8th April, 7-9pm

Open Wed-Sun 8am-12pm
Shoe World
Vesey Path, Chrisp Street Market
London E14 6AQ
Transport: All Saints DLR; Bus 15, 115

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Review available from Peter Marshall on

Friday 3 April 2015


As the 2012pics platform grows with live archives of the East End a circle of distinctive personalities emerge. All my efforts find satisfaction in gathering talented photographers with visions and specific approaches. They all use photography in a very progressive way and trigger a social dialogue, but they also challenge a medium. This is what the platform is about, working on one specific area for a long period of time with versatility. The topic must be compelling and familiar, the practice regular, representation experimental, dilemmas unavoidable, and so forth.. All the photographers are more in fact artists than photographers. They use the medium as a natural extension of their instinctive behavior. They prioritize the process and dig into the subject to reveal some kind of natural emergence. To take “good or nice photograph” is secondary but to build a coherent and contemporary body of work is what matters most. This is what Art is about. Do not produce as you are being told to sell more. Always put yourself of the edge of failure, forget about the past and uncover new pathways. When money starts pouring in you are doomed, you lose your freedom, the quintessential ingredient of creativity. But we are poor. Our photography doesn’t even satisfy the main photographic institutions. We DIY shows, invest from our own pockets, we do not even promote “properly”, it’s all word of mouth, network of friends, social medias etc.. This is a long and slow process but this is an adequate way as it keeps it sincere and stimulating.

As the group grows organically I find myself slowing down the selective process. That said, as our companionship grows I occasionally discover some relevant initiatives through introductions. And this platform wouldn’t make sense without the recent addition of Susan Andrews who is the course leader of MA Photography at the CASS and director of the East End Archives. Her passion and knowledge for Photography is vast and she is at the forefront of various discussions. It is a moving and strange feeling the one when you meet someone with similar projections and applications. It certainly reassures you in your personal quest to witness parallel initiatives. It is with a certain comfort you realize that your concerns aren’t vain and that they find resonance elsewhere.

Susan teaches at the Cass in Aldgate East, London and she commutes daily by car.
This is how her Up and Down Whitechapel High Street
/ Photographs From the Car series started.
In late 2008, I decided to alleviate the frustration of the heavy traffic caused by road works, incidents and accidents, by taking a photograph each time the traffic stopped. I set myself a system where I only photograph when the car is stationary with the handbrake on, which means there are no snatched images, but there are no rules regarding the direction of the shot or the subject matter, just whatever takes my eye. These photographs have a particular aesthetic as the vantage point is from the car, where passers-by are often viewed side-on in relation to buildings which face the camera, offering a very different perspective than from the pavement.

Unsatisfied with the time your life allocates you for personal projects, sometimes the most common subject jumps at you. And it is up to you to decode its signals and engage a dialogue with it or not. The invisible waves that make our beings feel and see may be more activated in a photographer’s brain as our vision is in constant alert. Would we love to have a camera set in our iris? Maybe not but there is something there that could explain a profound desire for embracing the moment and sharing it. This is a complex, sometimes frustrating, dilemma Susan was facing and succeeded successfully in finding her own method.  Browsing through the work you will realize that the protocol she has put together enables her to jump to the essence of the scene. The photographs are all independent in compositions, colours and content. The context is present throughout because of the wider phenomenon that is the transformation of the East End.  Susan sets the parameters and lets events come to her from a different perspective. Her work is surprisingly natural and refreshing all together.

Susan also directs Eats End archives where few well known photographers accept to share their work online such as Don McCullin, Brian Griffin, Tom Hunter and few others. The group organizes collective shows and publications on the matter (see previous posts) The will and passion involved in their project is very similar to what we do. On the other hand, it concerns me as to why such initiatives are to be all so often independent. Why couldn’t I, and still can’t, find institutions that would curate such program. As the Olympic games approached no photographic agency, no government body, no art funding, no private commission, no one could be found to invest into collecting a collective memory of the past and transient. Still today, those programs haven’t emerged publicly and only independent initiatives and collaborations thrive. Surely to promote a wider initiative wouldn’t improve the quality for the concerns and love we have for the East End but support for the existing platforms like ours could be beneficial to everyone. This is not about money but about celebrating this very unique mix of local communities and our national heritage.

What is happening in the East End is a direct reflection of today’s society and this is why it is so important to document it. Susan Andrews like Don McCullin understood that travelling the world for pictures isn’t appropriate anymore because the world is out there at your doorstep with all its contradictions. We better start taking care of our community to understand our present and foresee the global.