London At Night – Canary Wharf, Millwall, Greenwich and Deptford, a set on Flickr.
The latest set of photos uploaded to my recently established Flickr account is my fifth set of photos of London, part of an ongoing and recently established project in which I plan to cycle around the whole of London, photographing whatever takes my interest, to record London as it is at this critical juncture in its history — with the country in the grip of a profound recession, and a government responding, suicidally, with savage austerity, all the while making sure that the rich and the super-rich can continue to make obscene and disproportionate amounts of money, untouched by the suffering inflicted on everyone else.
These journeys are also an important project for me personally — a welcome opportunity to stay fit, but, more importantly, a kind of poetic odyssey, grand in the sense of trying to get a personal overview of the whole of this huge city that has been my home for over half my life, much of which I have never visited before, but also much more intimate, in that it allows me, through wandering on a bike, often with no fixed route, to be able to be easily distracted or to be drawn to whatever attracts my attention.
What attracts me, as I have been discovering, is the decaying and the idiosyncratic, the gulf — apparently ever-widening — between the rich and the poor, and how that manifests itself in the built environment, and the nature — the river, the weather, the trees and parks, the seasonal outbursts of organic growth — that stand in contrast to many of the efforts to control the shape and form of the city, and to leave the kind of legacy that, history shows, will sooner or later be swept away.
This latest set was taken on the evening of July 4, 2012 — the American Day of Independence — after, ironically, I had cycled from south east London to east London, to 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,” where 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.
On Friday, I posted the photos I took on the way, and today I’m posting the photos I took on the return journey, a haunting set of images, taken as night fell, which touched on many of my favoured themes. After I had cycled from Bethnal Green back to the river, at Canary Wharf, I took photos of the obscene and unaccountable wealth of London’s modern financial centre, the focus of much of the dangerous and unprincipled trading that caused the global economic crash of 2008, and contrasted that with Millwall, the neighbourhood that was on the Isle of Dogs long before the bankers arrived — its people working on the docks, before those were closed and the phallic skyscrapers of international finance took over.
South of the river, after crossing the Thames through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, I passed signs of faltering gentrification, pressed up against dereliction, in Deptford, although I could, to be honest, have been almost anywhere, with ailing industries — abandoned by the banks — squeezed out by banker-backed speculative housing developments; signs, like many others, of a faltering, turbulent economy, still myopically based on endless greed, even though that model requires endless consumers, at a time when those consumers are being deliberately impoverished by those in power.
I hope you enjoy these photos. Throughout this week, I intend to post other photos of Canary Wharf, in a set focusing close-up on its alarming show of wealth power, and of a journey I took from Canary Wharf to Stratford, the home of the Olympic Park, much of it along the route of the Lea Valley Walk.
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 Digg, cosmicsurfer wrote:
I don’t see anyone in a long WWII US Army Air Corps gabardine wool coat nor do I see a blue box – no Cyber-men either….
(For those unfamiliar with Torchwood or Doctor Who, Canary Wharf plays large in the story lines)
That out of the way – More great photos. Hoping London can keep its hold on the Welfare State and roll Cameron’s and the Tories’ Austerity plan off that wharf!
Thanks, cosmicsurfer. A great hope, indeed!
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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