A commentary on a well-known and well-loved city. By showing both familiar and unfamiliar elements it speaks of London choked by ‘cruel’ Capitalism in a contemporary context.
The theme was based on the 2003 Tate Modern Cruel and Tender. Photographers who inspired this work include Andreas Gursky, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Lewis Baltz and Albert Renger-Patzxch. The work of these photographers was categorised as ‘Industrialism and Consumerism’ in the exhibition. Initially not thought of as a valid subject of art, these photographers mapped the changing industrial landscape and it’s eventual decline.
White collar commerce has always been an aspect of this city, but it has certainly overtaken the industrial trade. There are only small pockets of industry left with the majority of land being developed for flats, office blocks or leisure. The location of the images was the Thames path on the South side of the river in London. The section on which I focused was in Greenwich that overlooks the Isle of Dogs.
My intention was to revisit and explore an area that I hadn’t been to in 20 years. When I took the photos for this project, I was recording my observations of what was in front of me. The images aren’t nostalgic, romantic or sentimental. I’ve not played with colour or tone with any of the images. The only editing was to increase the clarity, which has given them a starker appearance. Many of my tender memories of this area were cruelly reconstructed during this project.
This is the view which first meets you when walking to the river front from North Greenwich station. What first strikes you when looking out is how the skyline has been changed beyond recognition. Before these behemoths were constructed, the skyline would have been full of masts. When taking a closer look, the viewer can see the original buildings nestled along the riverfront. They look miniscule in comparison. In the forefront of the image, there is a whole selection of rubbish, broken glass and discarded laughing gas canisters. Detritus created from the commodities bought & sold by the brokers in the clean-lined buildings opposite.
Reminiscent of the New York skyline, this highlights the current London horizon from this part of the Thames. Again, not pretty.
Path to Mammon
Leading the way to…
Sign of the Times
Taken from the viewpoint of looking down the Thames on the Greenwich side. The area behind the sign is the Victoria Deep Water Terminal, part of which is used by Hanson for storage of aggregates for the building trade (crushed rock, sand and gravel). When walking down that part of the river, you pass the main entrance to the storage area & have to be careful of the JCB diggers shifting aggregates to the waiting barges on the water.
In the distance, the four towers of the Greenwich Power Station can be seen. The station was originally designed by the London County Council architects department, and built in two stages between 1902 and 1910, to provide power for the London Tram Network & London Underground. The building is now a standby power station fuelled by oil & gas. It was formerly powered by coal, which was delivered by boat to the cast iron jetty.
None Shall Pass
A further comment on how the City isn't accessible to all. Again, this image highlights the difference between the new and the old buildings on the Isle of Dogs.
A City Crucified
An observation I made when looking round the back of the sign in the Sign of the Times image. There is a small branch which looks similar to a crucified figure caught up in rusting barbed wire.
London in Chains
Taken outside The Cutty Sark pub, a Grade II listed building built in the early 19th century. The chain is part of sculpture consisting of an original anchor from one of the river boats.