Andy Worthington Celebrates Five Years of Photographing London for His Project, ‘The State of London’

A photo from the first day of 'The State of London' photo project, May 11, 2012, of Euromix Concrete, on Deptford Creek, Greenwich, London SE10 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and photographer.

 

Please like ‘The State of London’ on Facebook. Please also note that the photos accompanying this article are all from May 11, and were taken from 2012 to 2017. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Canary Wharf from Rotherhithe, London SE16, on a rainy May 11, 2013 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Five years ago, on May 11, 2012, I began a bike-based project to record London in photos that has ended up with me visiting all 120 of London’s postcodes (those that begin EC and WC, NW, N, E, SE, SW and W), as well as some — but not all — of the areas that make up Greater London, with a population of 8,673,713 in 2016 in the 32 boroughs (and the City of London) that make up the capital.

On these journeys, I have taken tens of thousands of photos of whatever attracts me, architecturally, historically, culturally, as well as photos of the changing seasons and the changing weather, and the changing face of the city as greed and regeneration remake whole swathes of the capital, often in what I regard implacably as an ugly and divisive manner.

A photo from Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich, London SE10 looking west towards Deptford and Rotherhithe, with, in the distance, the Shard and the City of London. Photo taken on May 11, 2014 (Photo: Andy Worthington).The project arose as a response to a difficult time in my life. Contracting a rare blood disease in 2011 led to me giving up smoking and piling on the pounds in response. A year after my illness, it was clear that the way I’d been living for five years prior to my illness — and that had largely continued in the year since (although, crucially, with the consumption of sweet and salty fatty things replacing the cigarettes) — was not a healthy way to proceed. My life was too much on a laptop, and largely sedentary, and something had to change.

As a result, I thoroughly reacquainted myself with what was possibly my oldest hobby — cycling, which I began as a child, and which I had always done, although not as regularly as I should have after I began researching and writing (about Guantánamo) on a full-time basis in 2006. I had started cycling regularly around south east London in the early months of 2012, often with my son Tyler, who was 12 at the time, and on May 11, 2012, I decided to start taking photos of my meanderings by bike, and to consciously wander further afield. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Greenwich Early and Late

London wakes up: the Thames in GreenwichCanary Wharf in the morning mistMorning in Greenwich, looking east along the River ThamesSt. Alfege Church from Greenwich MarketSt. Alfege ChurchSt. Alfege gravestones
A corner of St. Alfege ChurchSt. Alfege ChurchyardThree shipsJames, Bert and Mark PriorRock and roll is the devil's musicMist on the Thames
Gipsy MothMarket tradersGoddard's, pie and mash championsMeet BernardThey don't like it up 'emDon't panic!

Greenwich Early and Late, a set on Flickr.

As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, this, the 63rd set I’ve posted, contains photos taken in Greenwich, in south east London, in the early morning and after dark, on two recent trips — the first after an epic journey from Limehouse Basin up the Limehouse Cut and the Lea Navigation to the Olympic Park at Stratford and beyond (which I hope to post soon), and the second in the early morning of the following day, after a good friend helped me liberate my bike from where I had left it overnight, when my key snapped off in the lock.

Celebrated in and of its own right, as a maritime centre and a former royal residence — as well as a venue for this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games — Greenwich is the most significant tourist destination in suburban south east London, with its many attractions — the Cutty Sark, the Royal Park, the Observatory and the Royal Naval College, for example, as well as other attractions like St. Alfege Church and Greenwich Market, a covered market for artists, craftspeople, food vendors and antique sellers, which plays a major role in ensuring that Greenwich is not plagued by a surfeit of the same bland corporate chain stores that have taken over almost ever major population centre in the country. That status, however, is in doubt as the owners are determined to “regenerate” the market, which will only allow corporate raiders to take over and destroy Greenwich’s character. Read the rest of this entry »

Street Art, Sunshine and the River: Photos of Deptford and Greenwich

The Church of St. Nicholas, DeptfordGeorgian houses on the Pepys Estate, DeptfordMural, Riverside Youth Club, DeptfordNazi David Cameron - and a squirrel with a bombKilling Fat ChildrenA house with no door
Looking towards Canary WharfDangerous structureGreenwich ruinsGreenwich Olympic siteAccident black spotThe Lord Clyde pub, Deptford
A warrior's bust in DeptfordThe Granary, DeptfordSpeedwell Street, DeptfordPound Shop PlusLittle fluffy cloudsGreenwich Foot Tunnel and the Cutty Sark
Sun on the ThamesDavid Cameron, hunting toffWar is over, if you want itThe Laban Dance Centre and Deptford Creek

Street Art, Sunshine and the River: Deptford and Greenwich, a set on Flickr.

Three weeks ago, I posted my first set of photos of my journeys around London on my new Flickr accounta set I took on May 11, cycling around Greenwich and Deptford, down the hill from my home in Brockley, south east London — when I first began to realise that I had a need for exercise, a need to be outdoors whenever the sun shone in this rainiest of years, and a great desire to explore this vast city that has been my home for the last 27 years, even though I have never visited much of it, and have only partial knowledge of its contours, its hidden corners, and even some of its more obvious glories.

Combined, these various motives have progressively unmoored me from being enslaved to my computer, after six years of pretty relentless blogging, and have opened my mind and my body to the sights and the sounds of London, to the sun and showers, the torrential rain, the fast-changing skies like epic dramas, and also to the pleasures of the back roads, away from the tyranny of cars and lorries, where the unexpected can more easily be found, and where much of the city is silent in the daytime, its former industries replaced by apartments, its workers away — in the City or elsewhere — earning the money to pay for the “luxury” apartments in which, in many cases, they do not spend much time.

Repeatedly, I have found myself drawn to the River Thames and its tributaries and canals, most now flanked by towering new apartment blocks or converted wharves — and to classical compositions and perspectives of buildings and sky, clouds and water. Always, though, I find myself in search of unusual sights, glimpses of less obvious worlds in this city of millions of stories, places where the money has run out, or the standardising waves of gentrification cannot reach. Idiosyncratic places, touched by mavericks, or largely abandoned. Read the rest of this entry »

My Photos on Flickr: Deptford and Greenwich, May 2012

The Cutty Sark's extraordinary hullThe Cutty Sark restoredThe Olympic warshipThe Olympic warship and the Thames tugThe Thames is closedThe working river
Deptford Creek from Creek Road bridgeThe gentrification of Dreadnought WharfDeptford graffitiDeptford Creek street artDeptford Creek from Ha'penny Hatch bridgeDeptford Creek and the Laban Centre
Deptford Creek lifting bridgeRiver trolleysNazi David CameronCartoon headsOnly 10 years leftCrossfields poster

Deptford and Greenwich, May 2012, a set on Flickr.

The latest set of photos I have posted to my new Flickr account is something of a departure for me, after my three US photosets and a UK protest set: the first instalment of a regular, ongoing series in which my intention is to visit — by bike — as much of London as possible, and to photograph whatever takes my interest: trees, rivers, skies, architecture and street art, derelict places, industrial sites, decay, hubris, forgotten corners and unusual juxtapositions.

I have been a cyclist from an early age, and first began taking photos around the age of 17, a passion that I let slip for many years, after my last analogue camera gave up the ghost, and that I did not renew — apart from regularly hijacking my wife’s camera on holidays — until she bought me a digital camera at Christmas: the small and attractive Canon Ixus 115 HS.

On May 11, when the sun started shining after the wettest spring in living memory, I found myself unable to stay indoors, and began to cycle — at first, as this set shows, down the hill from my home in Brockley, in south east London, to Greenwich and Deptford, and, as future sets will reveal, also around Brockley, Lewisham, Hither Green, Lee, Catford, to Forest Hill and on to Dulwich, and along the Thames north and south of the river. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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