Blueprint – First Steps out into the field again

Posted on October 27, 2015

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Blueprint is my codename for a new project which looks at the redevelopment of East London. For now I have decided to focus on the area around Spitalfields/Whitechapel. These districts border onto the City which in encroaching more and more into the space that was once East London.

Talking to many locals who visited the Lifting the Curtain Exhibition it became abundantly clear that inappropriate and insensitive redevelopment is a major concern. Property prices are edging the local community out and developers are keen to maximise on their investment. Many commented on this image from Lifting the Curtain which neatly summarises the issue. I have decided to look again at the changing urban scene in East London, starting in Whitechapel and Spitalfields.

Whitechapel High Street                                                                                                                                                     “…clearances and rebuildings cause a far greater disturbance of population… The model blocks do not… provide for the displaced population, so much as for an equivalent number of others, sometimes of a different class.”

An initial concept for the work was explained in my previous post here. The idea is that I will produce a series of photographs which will document the redevelopment activity going on in East London today. The work will be presented in an ‘antique’ style to lure the viewer in on the pretext that they are about to see a picturesque, possibly historic scene.The photographs will be small so that the viewer has come close to see what is going on. Once hooked the viewer soon realise that the images in fact show the dreadful reality of what is happening.

I have many different options for printing/presenting the work. The option referred to in the previous post was to print using cyanotype techniques. Other options include liquid silver gelatin printing onto rag paper, use of a pinhole camera, digital manipulation to simulate an antique look and so on.

The first stage however is to get out with my camera and capture what is happening. To begin with I have decided to use a lightweight digital camera (Sony A7s) with a very wide angled lens (15mm). This approach enables me to capture the vastness of the redevelopment activity from street level, even when I am close to the subject. With this lens the people pictured in the frame look tiny – overwhelmed perhaps(?).

Here are some early images (all processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro):

Christ's Church Spitalfields

Christ’s Church Spitalfields

Bishopsgate Institute

Bishopsgate Institute

Bishopsgate

Bishopsgate

Spital Square

Spital Square

Fleur de Lys Street

Fleur de Lys Street

Folgate Street

Folgate Street

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