Archive for August, 2020

Notting Hill 1992

Monday, August 31st, 2020

We can’t go to carnival this year so I’m posting some pictures from previous years – today from 1992.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall 92-8aa-12_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1982. Peter Marshall 92-8ab-15-16_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall 92-8ac-55_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall  92-8af-33_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall  92-8ag-014_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall 92-8ag-46_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall 92-8ab-23_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1992. Peter Marshall 92-8ac-52_2400

I think all except one of these pictures were taken on Ladbroke Grove north of the station, the odd one out being the Kensington Food Centre a few yards away on the corner of Chesterton Rd and St Lawrence Terrace.

More pictures on Flickr in Notting Hill Carnival – the 1990s.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Notting Hill 1991

Sunday, August 30th, 2020
Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-8au-36-Edit_2400

We can’t go to carnival so I’m posting some pictures from previous years – today from 1991. These pictures are now on Flickr in an album of my black and white pictures from the event in 1990-2000.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-8au-33-Edit_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-8aq-11-Edit_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-8ap-43-Edit_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-8ap-16-Edit_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-8an-11-16_2400
Notting Hill Carnival, 1991. Peter Marshall 91-9a-52_2400

Some of these pictures have already been widely published – and one has appeared this year in various publicity features about the Museum of London’s show opening this October, ‘Dub London: Bassline of a City’ such as ‘BOOM! There’s a new show about dub at the Museum of London‘ in Time Out.

I took a look back through all of the contact sheets – well over a hundred – in 2018 while I was putting together a set of images for a Café Royal book. Several of the new images I found made their way into ‘Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990s’ but many others are in the Flickr album. The book sold well, and is now only available from them in an archive set, Archive 4, a limited edition of 100 different books, costing around a thousand pounds. I still have a few copies of this and also ‘Pride Not Profit London 1993-2000’ and can supply direct to UK addresses for £8 each including postage – contact details here. Several other of my books are still available at Café Royal.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Notting Hill 1990

Saturday, August 29th, 2020
Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-821-51_2400

Were we in normal times, today I would be thinking about going to Notting Hill tomorrow for the first of two days of Carnival. Much to my surprise I find it was eight years ago that I last went, having been on holiday away from London several years, and deciding the weather wasn’t really right some others. But perhaps I’m just getting old and was finding the music and the crowds too much some other times. At least this year I don’t have to make a decision.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-822-63_2400

The Notting Hill Carnival’s origins are in a ‘Caribbean Carnival’, an indoor event organised by Claudia Webb in 1959, the year after the Notting Hill race riots. The first procession was an impromptu one in 1966 from a neighbourhood street party, but it was in the mid-1970s that in began to be a major festival with a large attendance. But heavy-handed policing led to battles between mainly Caribbean youth and the police, luridly reported by newspapers and broadcast media which made many of us reluctant to attend the annual event.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-820-14_2400

August was in the 1980s was also a month when I was often in Paris and it was only in 1990 that I decided I had to go and photograph Carnival, and was both deafened and exhilarated by the energy and joy of the event. For the next twenty or so years – with a few exceptions when I was out of the country or crippled by injury – I photographed the event, at first mainly in black and white but later on colour film and then digital.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-822-64_2400

I’ve just spent a day putting my black and white pictures from the first ten years I attended, starting in 1990, onto Flickr. Some of them have been seen before in a number of group shows, including one in Notting Hill itself. I had a small one-person show at the Museum of London in the late 1990s, and put some on the web at Fixing Shadows, one of the first sites showcasing ‘straight photography’ on the web. This led to a 20 print portfolio with comments by George Mentore, published as ‘Notting Hill in Carnival’ in Visual Anthropology Review in 1999. I also showed the same number of prints in ‘English Carnivals‘ at the Shoreditch Gallery and Barbican Library in 2008, and later in the 2018 Café Royal volume, ‘Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990s’.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-828-45_2400

But for the Flickr album, which now contains 260 photographs, most of them published for the first time, I went back to the contact sheets. Most of those early years I went on both the Sunday – Children’s Day and the Bank Holiday Monday, probably averaging around 300 exposures on each. Probably a total of over 6000 images. But some of those were in colour, a few panoramic, so the 260 are from perhaps 4500 black and white frames. They include quite a few I wonder why I haven’t shown them before.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-824-13_2400

Technically they are quite varied, including some I’ve carefully balanced and retouched for publication and others that are untouched raw scans. Not every picture is critically sharp, as I was often working with no time to refocus and sometimes while in the middle of dancing crowds and concentrating on emotion rather than technique.

Notting Hill Carnival, 1990. Peter Marshall 90-818-56_2400

All the pictures in today’s post are from my first year at Carnival in 1990, when I think I was just beginning to get into the subject. More from 1991 and later to follow.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Meridian 3

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Following the Greenwich Meridian is rather easier since the Ordnance Survey helpfully added it to their 1:25000 maps in 1999, but these pictures were made five years earlier in my project in preparation for the Millennium. I’d had to draw my own pencil line in their maps, which fortunately did show in their outer margins the Longitude at one minute intervals, including 0°00′, so it wasn’t hard to add the line.

I’ve never quite understood why the National Grid doesn’t quite align with this, the Prime Meridian, but presumably there were good reasons for choosing another starting point and working very slightly at an angle. The street maps which I needed to work out my actual route as they had the street names follow the National Grid, though they rather hide this behind their own system of letters and numbers based on half-kilometre squares.

For the northern part of my walk, the Meridian ran roughly down the gap between two pages of my Master Atlas of Greater London, a book too large and heavy to carry on my walks, and I marked out my route with highlighter pens on illegal photocopies of its pages.

There are several crossings of Southend Road, the North Circular Road at this point close to the Meridian which I think was actually a few yards to my east as I took a picture looking roughly west. But the road layout had changed a little from that since my OS map had been revised. It was a view which made a better picture – and close enough to the line for me, as was the level crossing at Highams Park – where again the actual line is a few yards behind me – to the west.

The view of Mapleton Rd and Stapleton Close (wrongly titled Mapleton Drive in my notes) is perhaps a hundred yards west of the Meridian, but close enough for me. The war memorial at the junction of The Ridgeway and Kings Head Hill is spot on target, while Woodberry Way is perhaps around a hundred yards to the west.

Finally, Pole Hill has two markers; the obelisk, set up by the Astronomer Royal to align his telescope in Greenwich due north is on the old Meridian, but the trig point to its left is on the version adopted internationally (except by France) in 1884. Nowadays we use GPS based on the International Terrestrial Reference Frame which has its zero meridian 102.478 metres further east.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Sharp Pictures

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Jack Sharp, (1928-1992), born in Bedfordshire became an engineer and moved in 1955 to take up a job at CERN , the European Organization for Nuclear Research which had been founded the previous year and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. CERN is now best known for investing the World Wide Web and as the home of the Large Hadron Collider, but this large scientific community also – at least then – had an amateur photographic club, which Sharp joined and which stimulated an interest in photography that lasted at least until 1970 when, for reasons unknown, he apparently stopped taking pictures.

In a self-portrait he looks a typical scientist of the time, with carefully brushed hair and bow tie, looking into the eyepiece of his tripod-mounted Asahi Pentax SLR camera, his other eye closed as he presses the short cable release. Sharp was obviously a man who took his photography very seriously – as you might expect from his scientific training – with details of each frame taken noted on index sheets.

Of course records such as this were common practice at the time, with photographic magazines and books publishing shutter speeds and aperture in the photo captions. There were special photographer’s Notebooks sold, and filing sheets to hold film negatives in binders often came together with paper sheets to record the details. Photography at this time was largely taught as a science rather than an expressive practice. At the end of Bill Brandt’s ‘Camera in London‘ (1948) is a section of technical data, listing his cameras, lenses and films and with a fold-out table listing each picture in the book with ‘Subject’, ‘Camera’, film speed, ‘Stop’, ‘Exposure’ (time), year and lighting conditions.

Even when I began to get pictures published you would often be asked for such details, though by the 1970s I think most of us simply looked at the picture and made them up. But when I started I carried little cards on which to record exposures even if I seldom used them.

I first read his story in a PetaPixel post, Man Inherits Treasure Trove of Unseen Street Photos From His Grandfather, which tells the story of how Sharp’s grandson, Dylan Scalet, a marketing professional who came to England 8 years ago to take a university photography course had time on his hands because of COVID-19 and started to look at and digitise some of his grandfather’s collection and found some truly interesting images.

You can see these images larger on the web site set up by Scalet, who is also publishing a new image each day on Instagram. Scalet estimates he has inherited over 5,000 of his grandfather’s images and has bought an Epson V850 flatbed to scan them. It isn’t a bad scanner for scanning film, though more suitable for larger formats than the 35mm used by Sharp. But I’ve made several books for friends scanned using this or a similar Epson model and used it to scan some of my own work.

Though much faster than a dedicated film scanner, using the Epson is considerably slower than photographing negatives using a macro lens and digital camera – and can’t match either the resolution or quality. But it is simpler and more or less foolproof and comes with reasonable software.

Sharp’s work – or what I’ve seen so far of it – is often interesting and certainly technically very competent as you would expect. It isn’t work that is going to change our view of the history of photography, fitting well into the general run of photography in the times that he worked and at least sometimes a delight to look at. But it does certainly bear out my often voiced opinion that the photography we know and admire is just the tip of a very large iceberg.


Meridian 2

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Continuing with pictures from my walk along the Greenwich Meridian in Greater London in 1984-6.

Stratford Bus Station – Peter Marshall, 1995

My walks took me as close to the line of the Meridian I had pencilled on my 1983 1:25000 OS map as possible, though that line may not have been quite exact. I think it goes through the area at the extreme left of the picture above, here just a few yards east of the roadway. My series of walks kept as close as possible to the pencil line, but it often runs through private property, buildings, across rivers etc and many detours, some quite lengthy were required.

Barge carries contaminated earth from Poplar gasworks site, Peter Marshall, 2011

One of those fairly lengthy detours was north from Poplar, where the line ran through the gas works site and across Bow Creek. It wasn’t until 2011 that I was able to go onto the former gas works site, having been engaged to photograph the use of a barge to carry away the heavily contaminated soil from the site. The line crosses the river here, going through the left end of the large shed close to the opposite bank, near to Cody Dock. This is also part of a private business estate, though you can now walk along the roadways in it. There are several such areas I have been able to photograph in later years, but I won’t add any other later pictures to these posts.

Stratford Station – Peter Marshall, 1995

The line continues through the east end of Stratford Station.

Thinking of the line of the Meridian, I had decided it was appropriate to use a panoramic format, and these pictures were all taken with a swing lens panoramic camera. I think at the time I owned two such cameras, an expensive Japanese model and a cheap Russian one. The Russian was a little more temperamental and it was sometimes difficult to wind on the film, but had a much better viewfinder and I think was probably used for most of these. Both give negatives which are roughly the width of medium format film – 55-58mm – but only 24mm high, the limit of 35mm film, giving a roughly 2.3:1 aspect ratio. There is no discernible difference in image quality.

Langthorne Rd, Leyton – Peter Marshall, 1995

Both used 35mm film and curve it in the horizontal plane around a little over a third of the outside of a circle, with the lens pivoting roughly 130 degrees around the centre of that circle during the exposure. This keeps the distance between the centre of the lens and film constant, avoiding the distortion produced by using flat film, where the edges of the film are further from the lens node. This gives a very noticeable distortion with ultra-wide lenses, limiting them to an angle of view (horizontal) of roughly 100 degrees.

St Patrick’s Cemetery, Leyton

Swing lens cameras are limited in angle of view only by the mechanical limitations and can generally cover 130-140 degrees. But the curvature of the film does produce its own unique view. Assuming you keep the camera upright, straight vertical lines remain straight as the film is not curved vertically, but non-vertical lines show curvature, increasingly so as you move away from the centre of the film. You can see this clearly in the shop window in Langthorne Rd.

Whipps Cross – Peter Marshall, 1985

To be continued…

Meridian 1

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

One of the blogs about London I keep my eye on and occasionally read with interest is the rather oddly named ‘Diamond Geezer‘, who posts daily articles, usually about his walks or bus rides around some of London’s more obscure areas. As someone who spent around 20 years walking around many of these taking photographs, I often find these interesting even though I don’t share his preoccupation with some of the minutiae of Transport for London’s oddities.

The two most recent of his posts have been Prime Meridian 0° Day 1 and Day 2 and by the time you read this, there will probably be a Day 3. Since he is only walking along the line (or rather as close to it as you can) in Tower Hamlets and Newham there probably won’t need to be a Day 4.


Greenwich Observatory – Peter Marshall, 1985

I was particularly interested because I carried out a similar but rather longer project in 1994-96, completing it despite failing to get any of the Millenium funding which was on offer. I began at what seemed the obvious place, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich – as this was the Greenwich Meridian. My walk, carried out over several days, was rather longer, ending more or less at the Greater London boundary in Chingford – and later I extended it south from Greenwich to New Addington at the southern boundary.

Greenwich Riverside – Peter Marshall, 1985

It was rather harder then to actually trace the Meridian on the ground. There were rather fewer actual markers then and I think no published walks along it. Although my application failed, others were successful and obtained funding to put in new Meridian markers and publish walks at the time of the Millenium and yet more have been added since.

West India Dock – Peter Marshall, 1985

Back in 1994-6 I had to draw my own line on my maps – it was only in 1998 that the line was added to the Ordnance Survey maps – in order to allow people to celebrate the Millennium on it. Back then we had no mobile phones and no GPS – the first phone based GPS navigation system was only introduced by Benefon in 1999 and it was a few years before this became universal.

Greenway & Channelsea River, Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995

I first published these images on the web in 1996, having then recently acquired a colour film scanner. It wasn’t a very good scanner and getting good results from colour negative film was tricky. I think I scanned most of them again later, but some could still be improved.

Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995


To be continued…

May and Mayfair 1987

Monday, August 24th, 2020
The Fountains, Hyde Park, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-41-positive_2400

I’ve tried on several occasions to photograph the Italian Fountains in Kensington Gardens, an ornamental garden said to have been a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in around 1860, designed by James Pennethorne and incorporating ideas from their holiday home at Osborne House on The Isle of Wight. There are five main designs on the urns there, including the ram’s heads you see a few times in this picture, a swan’s breast, woman’s head, dolphin and oval. Taken in May when I think the trees in the background are at their best, some in leaf and others still showing their structure. The garden has been renovated since I made this picture.

Connaught Place, Bayswater, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-61-positive_2400

There seems to be a gate to the pavement of Connaught Place in Bayswater, probably to keep out the riff-raff like you and me, and I clearly chose to photograph through it as a frame to the formal architecture of the line of grand porches beyond. Although there are extremely expensive properties in a prestigious address, I find them rather dull, these heavy porches uneasy add-ons to the bland five-storey plain brick behind – which I chose not to include in my picture. But despite the porches, these are really the back doors of these building.

Bayswater Rd, Bayswater, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-63-positive_2400

The houses may have their doors in Connaught Place but the clearly face to Hyde Park, where the row has these magnificent balconies. I also photographed them in landscape format, but need to replace that image on Flickr as I find the negative moved at left to give a double image when I was making the digital camera ‘scan’, probably because the negative holder was not fully closed.

87-5h-24-positive_2400

Shepherd Market in Mayfair describes itself as “a charming small square and piazza with a variety of boutique shops, restaurants and impressive Victorian pubs” and ” A hidden gem known for its wonderful relaxed village-like atmosphere.” It gets its name from Edward Shepherd who developed the area in 1735-46 on open ground where the annual May Fair had been held. Wikipedia comments “It was associated with upmarket prostitutes from its building up until at least the 1980s” and they were still in business when I made these pictures in the area. In 1987 it still retained something of the shabby charm from its really run-down times when it was popular with artists and writers 60 years earlier. The area is something of a maze of streets and alleys and I no longer recall exactly where this picture was taken.

Shepherd Market, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5i-35-positive_2400

You can still find Da Corradi’s Italian Restaurant and Ye Grapes in Shepherd Market though I think both have changed somewhat are there are now more tables in the narrow street.

Hertford St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5h-64-positive_2400

Hertford St runs from Park Lane to Shepherd Market and then takes a turn north to Curzon St. This building is still there on the corner with Shepherd St and I think is a part of an expensive and exclusive private member’s club outside which I’ve recently photographed protests calling for kitchen staff to get a living wage and better conditions of service. The club is on five floors and includes a nightclub, four restaurants, four bars, a private dining room, cigar shop, a courtyard and a roof terrace and has a dress code which prohibits ‘sportswear of any kind’, t-shirts, shorts, sandals and dirty trainers. Personally having watched the kind of people who go into it I’m pleased not to be a member.

Hertford St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5h-35-positive_2400

Towering above the western end of Hertford St is the ugly bulk of the London Hilton in Park Lane, the first Hilton to open in the UK in 1963. 331 Feet tall it overlooks Mayfair, Hyde Park and, more controversially at the time of building, Buckingham Palace and its gardens. The hotel is on 28 floors and has 453 rooms and according to Wikipedia is now the 84th equal tallest building in London, though around twenty still under construction will soon edge it out of the top 100, though I think it will remain one of the tallest in the West End – only Centre Point and the Millbank Tower are taller.


Mainly Marylebone

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020
The Evangelical Library, Chiltern St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5e-16-positive_2400

The Evangelical Library on Chiltern St in Marylebone was built as a school for the Portman Chapel in 1859 by Christopher Eales with minor alterations in 1880 and was Grade II listed in 1994 as “an early surviving example of a church school in a city centre an early surviving example of a church school in a city centre”.

The Library began as the Beddington Free Grace Library, housed at first in sheds and later a brick building in Beddington, before moving to South Kensinton in 1945 and then here in 1948. It grew to contain around 80,000 books and periodicals relating to Protestant and Reformed Evangelical Christianity including many rare and valuable Puritan texts. Over the years the Grade II listed building deteriorated and the the costs of renovation to prevent damage to the volumes led to the library moving out in 2010 to cheaper premises in Bounds Green.

Meacher, Higgins & Thomas, Chemists, Crawford St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5e-43-positive_2400

You can still see this shopfront of Meacher, Higgins & Thomas, established in 1814 as chemists in Crawford St, Marylebone, and it has changed little from when I took this picture, though it has a larger illuminated sign at right and those large glass containers of coloured water which marked out every dispensing chemist in my youth disappeared from the upper windows a few years ago.

Marble Arch, Westminster, 1987 87-5f-25-positive_2400

It was a warm day in May and the closely cropped grass by the fountains at Marble Arch seemed a good place to have a rest. I think I probably sat on a bench or wall to eat my sandwiches and afterwards probably made my way down the steps to the public toilets and then under the subway into Hyde Park. Both now gone.

Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone, 1987 87-5f-53-positive_2400

Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone. Hertford House was originally called Manchester House, as it was built in 1776-88 for the 4th Duke of Manchester who apparently wanted to live here for the duck shooting. Presumably he had exterminated them all by 1791 when it briefly became the Spanish Embassy, and then in 1797 it became the home of the 2nd Marquess of Hertford who held many grand parties there, including a Ball celebrating the defeat of Napoleon. Despite this in 1836 it was let to the French as their embassy until 1851.


Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone, 1987 87-5f-55-positive_2400

The 4th Marquess of Hertford preferred to live in Paris, but used the house to store his art treasures, and when the Commune took over Paris briefly in 1871, his illegitimate son Richard Wallace moved back into the house and renamed it Hertford House. He had the house extended in all directions to fit in all the stuff he brought back with him, and what we see now, including the portico, is largely the result of these modifications by architect Thomas Ambler. After his death in 1890 the house was converted into a public museum, The Wallace Collection.

I visited it many years ago and found it a rather depressing experience, but the interior has recently undergone a considerable refurbishment and the experience may well be less oppressive.

Hinde House, Hinde St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5f-65-positive_2400

Hinde St runs west out of Manchester Square and the impressive church at the right of this picture is Hinde Street Methodist Church. The first church was built here in 1807-10 but this was largely or wholly demolished and a new Wesleyan church, designed by James Weir, opened in 1887. It remains one of London’s leading Methodist Churches.

Hinde House is a block of expensive leasehold flats, where a two bed flat might cost you a million or two.

Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Duke St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-11-positive_2400

Another place where I’ve often eaten my sandwich lunch in Central London is Brown Hart Gardens on Duke St in Mayfair. The extravagant building opposite this raised stone garden is the former Kings Weigh House Chapel by Alfred Waterhouse, built 1888-91 as a Congregational Church. It is a far cry from the more restrained and often classical church buildings I associate with this non-Conformist denomination. Congregational Churches in the past were staunchly independent, their life ruled by the decisions of the members, reached always by consensus, and I think most that I’ve been familiar with would be far too proud of their Puritan origins to have considered such a design. It seems to me very much more suited to its current use as London’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-24-positive_2400

Brown Hart Gardens started life as a real garden between large blocks of working-class dwellings built by The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company in 1886-7, Balderton Buildings and Chesham Building. These were taken over by the Peabody Trust in the 1970s. On Chesham Building is a plaque to the first Duke of Westminster Hugh Lupus, recording that through these and other buildings he provided accommodation for “nearly 4000 persons of the working class’ and naming him “The Friend and Benefactor of His Poorer Brethren”.

The land was a part of the Grosvenor Estate, and the buildings were part of an extensive slum clearance programme in the area. The Duke of Westminster insisted on a garden being created between the two streets of flats, then called Brown St and Hart St, and this was created in 1991.

It didn’t last long. In 1902 the site became an electricity sub-station, and this was built with domed pavillions at each end and completed in 1905. The Duke of Westminster insisted that a paved ‘Italian Garden’ be provided for local residents to compensate for the loss of the former garden, and this remained open to the public until shortly after I took these pictures in May 1987. The London Electricity Board then closed the area. It was refurbished from 2007 on and reopened to the public in 2013, with a cafe around the pavilion at the west end.

You can see more pictures on Page 4 of 1987 London Photos


Silloth 2010

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

Ten years ago today – 22nd August 2010– I was standing on the Cumbrian coast at Silloth, my first visit to an area that I had previously known from the photographs of Raymond Moore (1920 – 1987) who had moved there in 1978 and spent the last years of his life there.

Ray was one of the first real photographers who looked seriously at my work – at a workshop at Paul Hill’s the Photographers’ Place in Bradbourne, Derbyshire, where I went to a series of three weekend workshops with him, and Paul Hill in 1977-8. He very much set me working in a far more disciplined way, investigating the areas which really interested and involved me rather than simply making pictures.

And of course I was highly impressed by his work and attitudes toward it. So much that there are a few pictures that I took in those years and a little after that are perhaps too clearly me trying to make a ‘Ray Moore’, though never really successfully. But over time I think I managed to integrate a little of his influence more successfully into my own work. I met him a few times in later years – and was able to send him some of my published work – but was shocked at his early death, and regret greatly that I never took up his invitation to visit him in Cumbria.

I wrote a piece about my experiences in those workshops for William Bishop’s Inscape magazine around 2000, under the title ‘Darbis Murmury‘ and ten years later put the text online with rather more pictures from them.


Raymond Moore was one of the first UK photographers to achieve wider cultural acclaim, with a major retrospective at London’s Hayward Gallery in 1981 – I think then the only photographer to be honoured in this way since Bill Brandt in 1970 (though that came there from MoMA in New York.) Since his death his work has largely disappeared from view (in part for legal reasons) and he had been forgotten. There are no dealers with his prints to push and maintain interest in his work. I gave a presentation on his work (and that of Tony Ray Jones) at Bielsko-Biala in 2005, but had to use the reproductions of his pictures without permission. My text there – which you can still download – ended:

The British photographic establishment seemed by the time of his death to regard him as an unfortunate and rather embarrassing episode that was best brushed under the carpet. Many photographers who knew him or have come across his work in the few slim volumes, myself included, still regard as a major figure in photography.

http://buildingsoflondon.co.uk/poland.zip

Ten years ago I was on holiday with friends, and the pictures that I took that day are more an illustration of that day out than a serious attempt at photography.