Celebrating 550 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

12.11.18

The latest photos from Andy Worthington's photo-journalism project, 'The State of London.'Please feel free to make a donation to support my photo-journalism via ‘The State of London’, for which I receive no funding and am reliant on your support.

 

Yesterday marked 550 days since I began posting a photo a day on Facebook from the tens of thousands of photos I’ve taken on daily journeys by bike around London, beginning in May 2012, and I’d like to thank the thousands of people following the project on the dedicated pages on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on my own Facebook and Twitter pages. I’m very grateful that my photos, my subject matter and my commentary have struck a chord with so many people. 

You can see all the Facebook photos here, and there’s an embryonic website here, which I’m hoping to work on soon.

I started posting a photo a day on Facebook on May 11, 2017, and I chose that date because it was the fifth anniversary of when my photo-journalism project began, as an antidote to a major illness and too many years sitting at a computer writing about Guantánamo without taking exercise. I’ve been cycling as long as I can remember (I think I started when I was four years old), but I had let it slip as a regular pastime for some time until 2012, when I started cycling around my local neighbourhood in south east London, often with my son Tyler, until eventually, on May 11, I decided that I would formalise my renewed enthusiasm by cycling around the capital taking photos of whatever interested me as an actual project.

I can’t recall quite when the name ‘The State of London’ occurred to me, but I’m very pleased to have come up with it, because it suggests an interest in the material state of London (which I have), as well as its notional status as a state within a state — the city itself as distinct from the rest of the UK, which is also a concept that interests me, both as an alternative to Brexit Britain, and as the capital in revolt, turning on its leech-like oppressors, which was another aspect of ‘the State of London’ that appealed to me when it first occurred to me.

As the project has developed, it has become a manifestation of my pet topics and obsessions, with the cynical and unprincipled assault on council estates, and the priapic forests of “luxury” tower blocks rising up everywhere being a particular focus, and an alarming indicator that the latest phase of capitalism in the UK is fundamentally cannibalistic. Much of my work over the last 550 days has involved recording estates before they’re demolished, and watching the relentless rise of “luxury” developments, all the time wondering under what circumstances this monstrous bubble of greed, designed primarily to appeal to foreign investors, will collapse. Some of the photos that have moved me the most involve what I often term “the London clearances”, as can be seen most recently here and here.

I’d say that the eyes with which I’ve been gazing on the capital on my thousands of miles of cycle rides over the last six and a half years are fundamentally political, although I’m also temperamentally drawn to the decaying, the forgotten and the abandoned, and I’m also an enthusiast for the changing weather and the changing seasons (which, in part, reflects the joy with which I have embarked on bike rides in all types of weather), loving light and shadows, clouds and rain, as well as the city’s trees, parks and other green spaces, and its lifeblood, the River Thames, as well as the rivers and canals that feed into it.

Given that I live in south east London, that’s the area that features the most in my work overall, but I am drawn relentlessly to east London, and have also cycled extensively through south west London, as well as the City and the West End (the EC and WC postcodes), as well as other central postcodes (W1, in particular, but also N1 and NW1). It took me nearly two and half years to visit everyone of the 120 postcodes that make up the capital’s central postcodes (along with some of the outer boroughs), and I’m pleased that, to date, I have posted photos from 112 of these postcodes.

Back in September, when I wrote about ‘The State of London’ after 500 days, I was stumbling towards some sort of explanation of how my relentless cycling through the capital over six and a half years has led to me somehow embodying the capital. I’m still struggling to define this relationship, in which I have come to “know” much of London physically, mentally and emotionally, as though it is a huge body I inhabit, or as if its layout is part of my brain, and I’ll keep trying to come up with a more precise definition, but, for now, thanks for joining my journey.

For 2019, I’m definitely planning an exhibition, working with someone close to me, and I’m also thinking about crowdfunding a book, so I hope you’ll stay involved, and please do get in touch if you can help out in any way, or if any of my proposals above are of interest.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Yesterday marked 500 days since I began publishing a photo a day on my Facebook page ‘The State of London’, drawing on the tens of thousands of photos I’ve taken of London on daily bike rides throughout the capital’s 120 postcodes (and some of the outer boroughs) since May 2012. My thanks to those of you following this project, which is very close to my heart. I’m currently about to start working on an exhibition for next year, and I’m also intending to crowdfund a book, but in the meantime, if you enjoy the huge amount of unpaid work I’ve done on this project since 2012, feel free to make a donation to support me!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Sue Brymer wrote:

    Bring on the exhibition, and especially the book!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sue!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia R Scott wrote:

    Congratulations, Andy!!!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Natalia!

  6. Tom says...

    The perfect way to document the ebbs and flows of daily life.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. Good to hear from you.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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