The Isle of Dogs and Regent’s Canal, July 2012, a set on Flickr.
In the latest set of photos uploaded to my recently established Flickr account, I’ve posted photos that I took on the American Day of Independence, July 4, 2012, when I spoke at a screening of “Extradition,” a film about Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad, two British citizens facing extradition to the US on the basis of the grossly unfair and unjust US-UK Extradition Treaty. The screening was at no.w.here, a not-for-profit artist-run organization based in Tower Hamlets, which “combines film production alongside critical dialogue about contemporary image making,” and it was an excellent evening, even though the subject matter, and the urgency of the men’s plight, cast a sense of anguish over the entire event.
As part of my new and ongoing project to cycle everywhere in London, and to photograph my journeys, capturing aspects of the built environment, of nature, and of money and power, set against decay, poverty and the odd, untouched backwater (see here, here and here for the previous sets of my London journeys), I was delighted to travel to the east end of Bethnal Green Road, near Cambridge Heath Road, which, it slightly shames me to admit, I had never visited before, although I am familiar with the western end of the road — at the northern end of Brick Lane.
What I found was a vibrant, ethnically mixed neighbourhood, with independent businesses in tall terraced Victorian buildings, although I soon learned, from immediately striking up a conversation with Brad Butler, one of the founders of no.w.here (along with Karen Mirza) that the forces of gentrification have designs on the street, as they do on so much of London — right here and right now — despite the recession that is afflicting all but the rich and the super-rich. As ever, it alarms me profoundly that this appears to be, essentially, the first engineered recession in history, as the rich are excluded from the effects of the government-engineered austerity that otherwise stalks the land, driving the working poor, the young, the old, the ill, the unemployed and the disabled into unprecedented poverty, while protecting those with money from any kind of suffering, even though those in the City who drove the artificial and illegal wealth creation that caused the financial crash in 2008, and those who made money out of it, are the ones who should paying the most.
My journey from south-east London took me down to Greenwich, through the Victorian foot tunnel, and through the Isle of Dogs, where, mostly keeping away from the phallic displays of Canary Wharf, I travelled through Millwall — its history struggling to survive the encroachment and ther giant, testosterone-fuelled footprint of the Docklands project — and then cut through to Limehouse via Westferry Road. The foot tunnel has, for many years, been the only route across the river from south-east London between Tower Bridge, to the west, and the Woolwich Ferry, to the east, although the brand-new cable cars from North Greenwich to the Royal Docks now provide a new crossing point west of the Silvertown-Woolwich crossing.
At Limehouse, after crossing the faded grandeur of Commercial Road, I joined the extraordinary cross-city artery of the Regent’s Canal (aka the Grand Union Canal), heading north to Roman Road, where I left the canal, heading east to Bethnal Green Road and crossing Cambridge Heath Road as the first signs of the coming sunset cast its warm, rich light.
After the screening, as night fell, I made my way back, along roughly the same route, and I’ll be including my photos of that particular — and particularly haunting and affecting — journey in “London At Night,” another set that I will be uploading soon.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Jaq Robinson wrote:
All those ridiculously expensive sky scrapers yet the clouds still win the show
Thanks, Jaq. Good to hear from you. I think you’ll like a photo set coming up next week, based on a journey I took to the heart of Canary Wharf on Thursday – working title, “Canary Wharf: The Power of Greed.” The sky still wins out!
That’s a good new project for you Andy, and great photos too
do you know Clara Gutteridge? just found this today
carry on mate
Thanks, Paul. I do know Clara, yes. I meant to draw attention to her article, and will hopefully do so next week …
Thanks for the supportive words. Always good to know you’re there!
Jaq Robinson wrote (in response to 2, above):
I’ll look forward to them. It was good to see the old Regent’s Canal familar territory in this photo set!
Leonardo L Larl wrote:
…., yes Andy, looking at the photos and wonder what happened to all the local people were living there before, i don’t think they could afford to live there anymore. Greed is always sad, indeed.
Leonardo, thanks. It is astonishing how we have a recession and yet house prices continue to rise, new properties are springing up everywhere, and rich foreigners are also parking their money in the London housing market. On the other hand, astonishing is probably not the right word, as banks are raking it in from mortgages, and through funding for these endless “luxury” properties. I can’t really see how it can be sustainable, but we are moving into dangerous new territory, where the old rules seem to have been bent permanently out of shape, and everything is geared towards protecting the interests of those who are already rich – and exploiting the rest of us.
[...] week, after skirting the edges of Canary Wharf on several of my recent bike rides (see here, here and here), as part of my new and ongoing project to travel the whole of London by bike, and [...]
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