Posts Tagged ‘London’

Strength in Grief

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

With so much bad news around I hesitate to write about a funeral, but in October Extinction Rebellion held their ‘Strength in Grief’ rally at Marble Arch to express their profound grief at the extinction of species taking place due to global warming and which threatens the future of human life, and followed this with a funeral procession along Oxford St.

We are now facing another great threat to human life, one we are all personally threatened with, and many of us are at particular risk from, some because they are having to work closely with people suffering from coronavirus, others because they are particularly likely to die should they catch it. As someone in the high risk category, though not with governmental ‘extremely vulnerable’ status I’m worried and also isolating myself as much as possible.

The XR rally and march took place on the anniversary of Colombus landing in South America, truly a black day for the population of that continent, bringing disease and exploitation. While some celebrate Columbus Day, for many others the 31st October is the Day of Indigenous Resistance, and a number of the speakers reminded us of this. Climate Change has already killed many in the Global South.

While in the UK the lack of preparation has been a matter of government policy, part of their programme to run down and sell off the NHS through the back door to private health companies and their more general cuts to public services and local authority spending, for many countries it is impoverishment through centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has left them unable to cope with the current pandemic.

The UK is one of the world’s richest nations – thanks in large part to our imperial past which fed our economy and fertilised the inventiveness of which we can still be proud. I grew up in the immediate post-war period when the experience of the war had led to the realisation that we had to work together as a society. From that came secondary education for all, the NHS and the whole welfare state. I hope COVID-19 will have the same galvanising effect as we can’t afford to go back to ‘business as usual’. The world needs to wake up and ‘Face Up to the Problem’. I hope I’ll still be around to see it starting to happen; at least I’ve not yet had a letter from my doctor with a DNR form, though it could still come.

More pictures at XR Strength in Grief Procession.


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

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


A Slice of London

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

What do the following have in common?

Crystal Palace
Peckham Rye
Bermondsey
Wapping
Whitechapel
Bethnal Green
Hackney

ANSWER

They all fall on the National Grid in the vertical column TQ34, and there are more pictures from all of them in the albums of colour enprints I put together from 1986 to 1992 as a project with the rather tentative title ‘Cross-section’. TQ34 is just one km wide and I have a row of A4 files covering around 20 such columns across the city, though those at the outer edges have fewer images.

The roughly A4 album pages could each hold four 6″ x 4″ enprints. I started by gluing the prints in place on scrap cartridge paper (unused from A level Art exams and cut down to size) but though that worked well it became tedious, and I moved on to purpose-designed plastic filing sheets, at first transparent and later black.

I tried at first to keep all four prints on any page either landscape or portrait format and from the same kilometre grid square, but as you will see on Flickr there are a few exceptions. The album TQ34 includes just over 70 pages and is shown on Flickr as in the album with most images having four prints.

These enprints were all trade processed and I sent the films off to various cheap consumer labs. The different colour casts they produced for each roll of 35mm film I felt added to the project, and I accepted some packets of pictures where I really should have demanded a reprint. A few of the worst I have done a little colour correction before posting online.

I finished – or rather abandoned – this project around 1992 when I installed a print processing line in my own darkroom and going over to bulk loading and home processing of my colour negative film. Producing enprints was too slow and fiddly, but I was able to make larger prints, and a small selection of these images where exhibited and sold over the years.

We are all stuck inside but you can take a virtual walk through London with me on Flickr.

July 1986 on Flickr

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Pipe Bridge, Regent’s Canal, Baring St, Islington

I had more time to take pictures in July as my teaching came to an end for the summer vacation around halfway through the month. This meant I could go up to London on some weekdays, though I still had two small boys to look after on days my wife was working. That usually meant staying at home, but sometimes I took them both out with me to London.

Regent’s Canal

I spent some time in Shadwell and Bethnal Green, but also further north in Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston, occasionally wandering into Islington. Though I obviously photographed on foot, I had to travel from my home outside London and then around London to the starting point for my walks, and the One Day Capitalcard, valid on all public transport in London after 9.30am made this much simpler after its introduction in June 1986 – the one-day Travelcard launched in 1984 had been for bus and tube only.

The Mission, Holywell Lane, Shoreditch, Hackney

Towards the end of the month I moved my focus to the City of London, even easier for transport then as the Waterloo and City line was still run by British Rail and my ‘London Terminals’ ticket was valid all the way to Bank.

Blackfriars Rail Bridges

When I began photographing London there were two railway bridges across the River Thames at Blackfriars, but all that remained of one of these by 1986 were the pillars that had supported it. And while these were rather a fine set of pillars they were (and remain) a rather curious river feature, presumably left in position simply to save the cost of removing them.

Queenhithe and the River Thames

Queenhithe, a small inlet on the City side of the river has a long history. The Romans built a quay here, and buried deep down in the wet mud some of the timbers they put here survive, as do remains of the dock contructed when Alfred the Great, King of Wessex re-established the City of London aroudn 886 AD. It got the name Queenhithe (a hythe is a small harbour) when Henry I gave the right to levy dues on goods landed there to his wife Matilda around the time of their marriage in 1100. Queenhithe was still a major harbour for the city hundreds of years later and remained in use, with lighters bringing skins for the fur trade which was based a short distance to the north until the Second World War.

Fur shops in Great St Thomas Apostle

Around 300 of the black and white pictures I took in July 1986 are now online:
Peter Marshall: 1986 London Photographs on Flickr.
July’s pictures start here.

The images are copyright but may be shared on non-commercial personal social media. A licence is required for any corporate, commercial or editorial use.


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

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Scanning London

Monday, March 30th, 2020
TQ1985

A few months back I was lying prone inside a giant metal tube on a flat bed which moved me slowly backwards as successive slices across my body were scanned for the purposes of research, and the CT scan reminded me of a project on London which I began in the 1980s.

Nowadays we are all familiar with the idea of geotagging and some cameras can add geotags to the Exif date as you photograph, while gadgets can be fixed onto other cameras to add the data. Smartphones do the same, as they always track you position. The web site https://www.geograph.org.uk Geograph was set up in 2005 to “collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland” and so far 13,114 contributors have submitted 6,397,064 images covering 280,384 of the 1km grid squares, still leaving around 15% should you wish to strike new ground.

TQ2083

I’ve occasionally added geotags to my own landscape pictures in Lightroom, using a free little phone app by one of my sons, ‘Easy GPS Logger’ which records GPS location and time data to a file. You load this into LR along with the pictures, match up any one of them with a particular place on a map and LR then uses the file to add the information to the other pictures. There are only two problems – remembering to turn on the logger at the start of your walk, and secondly to turn it off when you finish!

TQ1982

Back in 1986, the only way to add location data to your photographs was by hand, using a map to find the grid reference. Of course you had to know where you were to do so. I had the idea of doing a series of South to North cross-sections of London based on the Eastings and Northings of the National Grid using colour negative film.

Rather than attempting a series of south-north walks, I simply took a camera with colour negative film on more normal walks while I was photographing London in black and white, then sent the films for processing and printing 6×4″ enprints. When these came back from processing I’d sort out those I wanted to keep and use a map to find the grid references and add these and the date with a technical pen along the lower edge of the print. The date meant (at least in theory) I could find the negatives in my files.

TQ1683

At first I glued the prints onto card sheets to file them under the grid reference in a set of A4 files, but this soon became tedious and I bought filing sheets which held 8 prints, four on each side. Each of the kilometre grid squares had its own filing sheet, and some soon had several, with the series expanding to fill around a dozen A4 files. Each file holds around 50 double-sided sheets and so could hold around 400 prints, though many sheets are not full, so the project probably has around 3,000 or 4,000 prints.

TQ1978

Of course what was more important were the scenes I chose to photograph. I carried in my wallet a reminder of things I was interested in photographing (an idea picked up from reading a list made by Walker Evans), in a small zipped pocket together with a folded £20 note for emergencies. Of course colour was important, not just for itself, but as an illustration of how and why colour was used, and I had a great interest in representations of people and things, in ethnic differences and in the evolution and fashion of colour.

I can’t remember exactly when I ended the project, though it certainly continued well into the 1990s. But at some point I stopped sending colour negative film to be processed and began developing it myself, and producing enprints wasn’t really an option. Instead I made 8×10″ contact prints and worked from these, producing very many fewer but larger prints.

TQ2080

Over the years I’ve probably published or shown only around a hundred of these pictures, the largest group from 1986-90 in the book dummy and web site ‘Café Ideal, Cool Blondes, and Paradise

As with my black and white images of London, this is a body of work which I think has a great deal of historical interest as well as some photographic interest and it would be good to see it in some permanent museum or similar collection rather than simply gathering dust on my shelves.


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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

June 1986

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

I had a busy month in June 1986. Of course there was the teaching, though by that time of year my A Level students were busy sitting exams, which took some of the pressure off for me, though there were the practical exams. And of course exam invigilation, a time of extreme boredom.

At home there will have been strawberries to pick and other little jobs around house and garden, as well as two young boys to help looking after. And sometimes I would take one or both of them out for long walks with me, as I went out taking pictures at the weekends, mainly in that month in Tower Hamlets, occasionally straying into Hackney.

During that month I made over 500 exposures on black and white film, seldom taking more than one exposure of each scene, and perhaps half that number in colour. It was around this time that I started seriously to produce some kind of comprehensive document of the fabric of London which I had been photographing in a less concentrated and asystematic fashion since 1973.

What had previously been largely dérives from a particular starting point now became carefully planned, with research in books on the city and poring over maps. Where previously it might have been the delightful whimsy of Geoffrey Fletcher that lead me to picturesque corners, this was now replaced by the duller encylopaedic prose of writers such as Harold Clunn, whose 1951 ‘The Face of London’ revised his earlier work to take account of wartime losses and attempted to be a complete guide to Greater London from his fifty years of perambulations.

Of course I seldom stuck to those carefully made plans, often being diverted by the lure of the streets, but I did begin making notebooks of where I walked, noting down street names and important details, marking up where I had walked on street maps (many of which have now fallen to pieces.)

After developing the films I would as usual make contact sheets, but I would then mark these up with Indian ink in a Rotring pen (and small writing I now often need a loupe to read) with street names and map references. In later years the A-Z came with the National Grid superimposed and my contacts included grid references too.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and sometimes I got street names wrong, and my writing and abbreviations are not always legible. I’ve now put around 140 of the pictures from June 1986 into my Flickr album ‘1986 London Photographs‘, almost all of them with at least a street name to identify the location. It took a few days to make and retouch the digital files, and once I had done that, over a day’s work to confirm the locations where possible using Google Street View. Some areas of course changed completely between 1986 and the earliest information from Street View – usually 2008, making it impossible in a few cases to be completely sure of where images were taken.

All of the images on Flickr have a longest side of 2400 pixels, four times the size of those in this post (- and landscape images only display at 75% unless you double click to open them.) Although I’m happy for people to share them and use them with proper attribution on personal blogs and non-commercial personal web sites, in student essays etc, they remain copyright, and a licence from me is required for any commercial or editorial use.

You can view the complete album 1986 London Photographs, but June’s pictures start here. Pictures for later in 1986 will follow shortly.


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


London 1986 on Flickr

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

I’ve just uploaded the first tranche of 112 of my black and white pictures from 1986 on to Flickr. These are some of the pictures I took in the first four months of the year.

In 1986 I made around 5500 exposures on black and white film, the great majority of them being photographs taken on the streets of London, concentrating on the fabric of the city – the buildings and shop fronts in particular. At the same time I was also taking colour film, with a greater focus on shops and window displays.

A few of those black and white exposures were taken outside London on holidays and visits to family and friends, and rather more on a project in the industrial areas beside the Thames in Kent from Dartford to Cliffe.

Most motifs were taken with a single frame, carefully thought out and executed much as if I was using a large format camera, rather than the 35mmm Olympus fitted with a shift lens which I used for most of these images. A few received a second exposure, perhaps to concentrate on detail or where I could see an alternative approach and even more rarely I became excited enough to take more.

The almost a thousand images which will eventually be in this album represent about a quarter or a third of this work – the images I now find more interesting. Some of the scans have minor technical problems that annoy me but are probably not apparent to most viewers. Most were made while I was learning to use a DSLR to photograph negatives.

Although I had been walking around London with a camera since 1973 it was really in 1986 that I made a serious start on photographing the city as a whole, much as I had previously concentrated on various areas of docklands. Photographically I was inspired by the work of Eugène Atget in Paris, recording the old city he saw disappearing, but also by the encyclopedic work of Pevsner and his co-workers in ‘The Buildings of England‘, the original series of which were published between 1951-74. These both inspired and infuriated me by their omissions and the sometimes crass judgements and in particular what seemed to be a disdain for the vernacular, the commercial and the industrial. I decided my own view would be more comprehensive and I would photograph any building I found significant or interesting as well as exemplars of the typical.

Later I would often go into the library at the National Building Record, then in Saville Row, and while waiting for my appointment pull one of their London files from the shelves and leaf through its contents. For most areas it was church after church after church, occasionally enlivened by some ancient house or stately home. Perhaps the odd old pub, but little else to reflect where the ordinary people of London lived, worked or shopped. A few of my images helped to widen their collection, much of the older work in which I was told was donated by Church of England clergy with time on their hands and the money to indulge in photography as a hobby.

I had of course set myself an impossible task, and I realised this from the start, but made it even more so by widening my view in later years to take in the whole of Greater London. I kept at work for almost 15 years, by which time I had covered most of those areas that particularly interested me. But it had also become clear to me that times had changed and in particular that technology was changing.

I had already made use of the web to put some of my work online – in my Buildings of London website first put online in 1996 (with later revisions but never brought up to date as I decided it was impossible to scale it up) and this continued with London’s Industrial Heritage in 1999. The images on these sites reflect the But by 2000 it was clear to me that the impact of digital photography would lead to the city becoming on-line as a whole in a new way that made the continuance of my project redundant.

Google brought this to fruition with the launch of Street View in 2007, though I think it only came to London in 2008. When you view an area on this now, you can probably see it as it was some time in the last year, but, if you are fortunate, can also go back to various other views taken as far back as 2008. But for those relatively few areas and buildings in my pictures you may be able to go back to 1986. Much of London has changed dramatically since then.

Richmond Ave, Islington 86-2d-42_2400

You can watch them here, but its better to go to Flickr and watch them at a larger size.


XR Westminster

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

I don’t know who these two men were, striding purposefully with their document cases but I think they had emerged from a government ministry and they were probably making their way to another or possibly the Tory party HQ. It’s possibly quite unfair, but to me they seemed to epitomise the reason why we are in the situation we are in, a determination to carry on ‘business as usual‘ when it is quite clear that to survive we need drastic system change. We can’t trust men in suits.

XR were protesting across Westminster, and it was hard to keep up with what was happening at I think eleven locations, but I did quite a lot of walking around and taking pictures, with a pretty total shutdown of all the roads in the area. Police made movement a little more difficult by setting up some road blocks of their own, which seemed totally pointless but made my job more difficult when they wouldn’t even let me walk across Lambeth Bridge although I showed my press card.

They seemed also to be making the very occasional and almost totally random arrests, picking on small groups or individuals when hundreds were blocking roads. It seemed a simply pique at being unable to control the situation of mass peaceful civil disobedience.

Although it was taking place in London, the XR protest was not a London protest, with the huge bulk of the protesters having come into the city from small towns across the country. XR has been very successful at motivating a largely white mainly middle class and highly educated population but rather less so with the urban working class, and there were far fewer from London’s ethnic communities than at most London protests, and who are well represented in movements such as the Youth Climate Strike and of course anti-racist and anti-fascist protests.

It will of course be the poor and those who have to struggle most to make a living in our cities who will be the first to suffer as the effects of global heating kick in, just as it is the countries of the majority world who are now feeling it most severely. But perhaps it is hard to persuade people who are living in precarious situations of the efficacy of the kind of apolitical and non-violent approach that appeals to XR supporters.

More at Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster.


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

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Defending the Indefensible

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

It just hadn’t occurred to me that there would be protesters defending Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, hereafter MbS, the man responsible for sending a team of assassins to kill and then dismember with bone saws the body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd 2018.

Of course their state-sponsored posters and placards – including two large electronic screens strapped to two men didn’t mention the killing, nor MbS’s other purges, including the 2017 arrest of business leaders and other prominent Saudi figures in what he called an anti-corruption campaign, the kidnapping of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2017 and more – including recent arrests of yet more leading Saudi figures who he sees as possible rivals.

So when I first walked up to their noisy protest I misunderstood their reason for being there. I couldn’t of course understand what they were shouting, and it was only after I read the posters that I realised they had come to support MbS and not to protest against a cruel dictator.

Of course some of them may have had good personal reasons for supporting MbS. Saudi businessmen operating in the UK may well be profiting from his economic reforms and support his Vision 2030 for a Saudi Arabia that in some respects will modernise, largely in the interests of business. Some of those taking part will be working for the Saudi government and companies such as Saudi Aramco, supposedly the most profitable company in the world, though this position is perhaps under threat by MbS’s current oil war with Russia. And some may have been paid for their evening’s work.

Certainly if you are a Saudi citizen and have any intention of returning to that country in the future, being seen as a supporter of MbS rather than an opponent will be vital for your health – as the brutal Khashoggi murder testifies. You need to be seen (and filmed) to be on the right side.


Justice for Jamal Khashoggi

On the anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, a small group of protesters on the opposite side of the road stood in a quiet line in front of the Embassy garden holding posters, and later burning nightlights, in a silent vigil for the cruelly murdered journalist. It was a small but dignified and rather more impressive display than the PR event taking place opposite.


More on both events:
Saudis support killer Prince MBS
Justice For Jamal Khashoggi


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

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.

London October

Monday, March 16th, 2020

I don’t go out a great deal at night now, and mainly its when I’m out with friends and taking few pictures. I like to be at home and sitting down to a good dinner and a glass or two of a decent red wine. I quite like eating out, but the food at home is usually better and the wine almost always so, even at prices for a bottle you might pay for a large glass in a restaurant.

I’d hoped to be at home and at table by the time I left the protest in Chalk Farm. I left partly because there wasn’t a great deal going on, but mainly because the light had sunk to levels where working without flash had become more or less impossible and I was hungry. I don’t like winter and shorter days, but at least you don’t have to stay out so late if you want to take night pictures.

There is I think only one picture taken from the train as it goes through Vauxhall or Nine Elms in this month’s selection; perhaps the train windows were dirtier this month. But there are other pictures of the fast-changing area still under development, even the one above on Vauxhall Station itself. It gives a good idea of how vertical parts of the city are becoming.

There are several of Vauxhall and Lambeth across the river, including one with this Henry Moore piece in the foreground. I think the only thing still visible from when I first walked this way is Vauxhall Bridge itself, even the walkway and the river wall have been rebuilt.

London’s buses give a unique viewpoint on the city, and there is no need to spend large sums on open-top private operators to enjoy it. London’s buses are cheap, and a travelcard gives you a day’s unlimited access, though pictures like that above will fall foul of TfL’s over-zealous legalistic protection of its copyright symbol. Were I making some commercial use of it rather than posting an image on a non-commercial blog there might be a case to answer.

Many more pictures, including some slightly different views of a few well-known landmarks as well as some of London’s more obscure streets, such at the one above.

London Images


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

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Students Strike for climate justice

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

The young get it, and inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg as well as the words of David Attenborough and the overwhemlming conclusions of scientists, school students around the world are coming out on the streets to demand yhat governments take the necessary action to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and act in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the IPCC report, though many recognise that even these are insufficient to deal with the problems we face.

Fridays for Future London started out as a small group, but now together with Youth Climate Strike and other groups there has been an impressive turnout for protests taking place during a Friday in school terms. Some came with parents or grandparents and there were a few other older protesters, but the great majority were with others from their schools and school classes.

Notable by their almost complete absence were the mass-produced placards of so many protests, produced by left groups such as the Socialist Workers Party or Socialist Party. Clearly the climate catastrophe is now a major inspiration for the work of school art departments as well as many obviously home produced posters and placards.

The protesters are deadly serious about the existential crisis they face, with messages on some posters addressed to the older generations who run our country like ‘YOU will die from old age – WE will die from Climate Change’ but there are many more humorous though also deadly serious.

If the world was run by the youth it would have a future. But unfortunately it is largely run by the old and extremely rich. Billionaires who largely can’t see beyond their immediate short-term interests and are doing very well from business as usual. They’ll be OK in the short-term when the sea-level rises or we get more and more storms and floods, when millions (or even billions) die in the majority world and thousands in countries like ours.

Of course in the longer term even the filthy rich will suffer. They are huge hoggers of resources, particularly those made by the poor who mine the metals, grow the crops etc. The world doesn’t need the rich, but the rich do need the rest of the world to support them.

More pictures at Students Strike for climate justice.


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

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.