Autumn Sunset in Hilly Fields, Brockley, a set on Flickr.
As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, my most recent photo sets — with the exception of the set featuring images from Saturday’s massive demonstration in Lewisham to resist plans to close the hospital’s A&E Department — captured a journey I made through south east London, and then along Commercial Road in the East End and back home via Canary Wharf, on a blazing hot day in July. That was exhilarating, and a lovely reminder of the joys that summer can bring, but here and now, as the days get shorter, and the leaves continue to fall, heralding the full-blown arrival of winter, I thought it would make sense to post some more recent photos.
This set — the 61st London set — and the four to follow capture some of the delights of autumn, in and around my home in Brockley, in south east London, and also including Deptford and Greenwich. This first set, however, returns to my local park, Hilly Fields, on a hill commanding wonderful views of Blythe Hill, looking over to the wooded expanse of Forest Hill, where the last vestiges remain of the Great North Wood that once covered most of south London. There are also glimpses to be had of Canary Wharf and the O2, as well as views over Blackheath to Shooters Hill, down to Lewisham and all the way out to Kent.
I posted a set of photos taken on Hilly Fields three weeks ago, taken on a damp autumn day full of rich earthy colours, and this set captures a return visit two weeks ago, late on a Saturday afternoon, when the conditions were perfect for a rich, golden, autumnal sunset, and all the intense, burnished shades and long shadows that come with it.
For myself, and other inhabitants of Brockley — and, I believe, for many others who visit this part of London — Hilly Fields is a very special place, and a reminder of the important work undertaken by philanthropists in the second half of the 19th century. What is now the beautiful Hilly Fields park used to be fields, which were only saved from developers by activists and reformers including Octavia Hill, one of the founders of the National Trust.
This is never lost on me, as I contrast the progressive impulses of that time with the new barbarism prevalent in the present, when, 33 years after Margaret Thatcher embarked on a mission to roll back the social advances — and the march towards equality — of the previous hundred years, her successors, seeped in a selfishness that even she couldn’t have imagined, are pushing to remake Britain as a wretched place for everyone except the very rich, in which all the reforming zeal of the last 150 years is swept away.
Those of you who follow my work know that these are themes I will be revisiting very soon, but for now I hope you enjoy Hilly Fields, on a mild evening in November, radiant with an autumnal sun.
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, Flickr (my photos) 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, Ruth Gilburt wrote:
Big sighs from another corner of Brockley….lovely photos again, Andy x
Thanks, Ruth. Much appreciated!
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Thanks, George. I thought it was time to let nature speak for a while! Urban grit is back in the next set!
Nice job on these. Also, when you scan pics, what’s the best resolution? I’ve heard that 300 dpi is the minimum for JPEG. Then 1200 is the best for archiving.
I believe 300 dpi is the best for scanning, Tom. I don’t know about archiving, though. Glad you like them!
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