Tuesday 26 June 2018
I was at Waterstones recently and quickly glanced through the latest of Photography books displayed.
This book written, compiled by Charles Saumarez-Smith and published by Thames & Hudson seemed a must have for my East End research. I liked the format, the fact there are pictures but also texts and a kind of methodology. After 10 minutes of reading it (or flipping through which would be the most appropriate word as it took my only an afternoon of lament) I felt so disappointed. This author, resident of the East End in Stepney for several years, has managed to persuade a big publisher to produced a solid hardback on a basis of very sketchy thoughts. I can't believe that with so many pages so very little is actually given. The research behind it is very poor and relies a lot on personal emotions resented throughout daily walk in his neighbourhood. It is as if he only scratched the surface of the old East-End in his spare time. The choice of areas is very amateurish and more importantly their contents. It comes with a very surprising and non-logical list of places. After reading his presentation Saumarez-Smith expresses the wish to present the change experienced in the East End. This sense of change doesn't appear anywhere and instead you will find a list of old landmarks with little to learn from. At the same time he feels important to mention places such as Dirty Burger in Stepney, and organic shop and next an old church!? The whole thing doesn't make any sense at all. On top of it, the layout which I first thought was interesting, to leave some white space with little images in a random order as a sort of patchwork reveals in fact a lack of coherence and a trick to take away our attention to the poor quality of the visuals. It becomes evident that the author has been photographing with a cheap compact camera or even mobile phone, hence the small visual windows. And some images are not even cropped properly! Well, let's keep it there and say it is a very poor attempt and I still cannot understand how such a big publishers accompanied by author reviews can produce and praise such a mediocrity! Please DO NOT BUY IT, you will waste your time and money!
Thursday 7 June 2018
Chris Dorley-Brown has done it again! A new book with Hoxton Mini-Press and everyone is raving about it.
The Corners have a very promising start. Let's wish Chris a similar or even greater success that he is having with the previous "East-End in Colour/David Granick" he put together. But this time it's personal work and it's a joy to see this long produced body of work finally printed out on a larger format. I haven't purchased my copy yet but I let you discover the magic yourself. Find below link to purchase book online. I am also adding all sorts of links.
Tuesday 5 June 2018
Good walk on a Sunday sunny afternoon. Starting by St John's church in Stratford and finishing at the Northern Circular flyover in Ilford. One straight line slicing through Forest Gate and Manor Park. The road has several sections and offers different "vibes". That said there is a continuity in terms of services provided. The road is filled with private or small chain hotels. There are many pubs closed and almost no new ones which can be explained simply by the fact that most of the local population is muslim. The road is also dedicated to the car. Car wash units are everywhere. The train lines being slightly off the main road this axis is dedicated to the wheeled vehicles.
There are also plenty of local presbyterian churches which are full on Sundays and where the attendees wear immaculate white uniforms. A lot of old buildings still stand and few are being restored. To my surprise they were almost no new buildings. Few fenced bits of lands but no promises of new flashy blocs. Again, with the near arrival of the Crossrail line in the area I am slightly confused with the non-interest of property developers (not that I complain though)
As your walk goes on you realised that Romford Road may have been of great use in a distant past but that today's function lies in its access to Stratford and Central London. This is an alternative quick access to the centre and there is very little time for enjoying its charm. The life of each quarter is to be found on either sides of it like on Upton Lane and High Street North.
The end of the road is definitely more vibrant and this is were the muslim communities gather. The shops remain the usual British ones though. You sense the area is poor. I reach the North end of Newham and enter the monstrous new Ilford to end my journey.
Today marks the completion of a triangular framing of my new East-End project. River Roding covered the furthest East side, the Greenway stretched most of its South and today seals it Northbound. Few pockets outside this triangular shape will be investigated though in time.