One I Made Earlier

Here’s a picture I made earlier, around 32 years ago, and which I can’t remember having printed before, though I probably at least made a small proof at the time, and always made and kept contact sheets of all my black and white work.

© 1980 Peter Marshall

It does look better a little larger than you see it here, but I think it’s an interesting image. I’ve slightly cropped the frame to remove the backside of a person at the left, but have kept the little patch of light at top right and also the angle at which I took the picture, both of which I think were probably deliberate, although few of my pictures are taken exactly level – I seem to have a slight built in list!

I took seven frames in this children’s play area, the kind of place I would be rather doubtful about photographing in now. Though perhaps if – as on this occasion – I had gone there with two children of my own I would still feel it safe to take pictures, without fear of being pounced upon as some kind of pervert. Though neither of my two are actually in the frame. This was the third of three frames in which I had chosen to put this dog in the foreground – in the two others I had included a larger area above the wall, including some branches of a tree. In the next frame I photographed the kids on the swings without the foreground animal. But I think this is a better picture, one that for me seemed to be a statement about the urban situation and growing up in the city, fenced and walled in, and the contrast with the energy and feeling of freedom on the swings.

I was on an outing with the family to visit the windmill in Brixton, and I think this playground was more or less next to it. I can’t at the moment find any pictures of the windmill itself, which was in a fairly poor state, and has recently been renovated at a cost of around £400,000 and reopened – and although now it has ‘friends’ I think back in 1980 there was little sign of them.

This picture had rather got lost in my negative collection as most of the images on the same film were from Hull, and I’ve still got the contact sheets for that work filed separately from when I was selecting the work for a show in the early 1980s. A year or two ago I did manage to find one other image from that afternoon in Brixton, taken around half an hour later as we walked through some of the back streets, and it’s one I’ve previously posted here.

© 1980 Peter Marshall

I took only two frames of this text-covered basement, more or less identical, though I’m sure now I would have explored the situation in greater depth. But film – even when bought in 100 ft cans and loaded into cassettes at home, like the ISO 400 Tri-X used for these pictures – was relatively expensive, and I had a family and a mortgage to support.

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