While Tyrants Sleep: Canary Wharf at Night, a set on Flickr.
On November 14, 2012, as I explained in my previous photo set, “Curious Insomnia: A Journey through Deptford and Millwall to Canary Wharf at Night,” I decided, at 1am, to cycle from my home in Brockley, in south east London, down through Deptford and Greenwich, and through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the Isle of Dogs, where I cycled through Millwall, via the former docks and South Quay Plaza (and the DLR station) to Canary Wharf, the multi-towered financial centre and underground shopping complex that has been sucking the lifeblood out of the rest of London since it overcame its early wobbles under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and became a magnet for dodgy unregulated bankers and obsessive materialists during the reign of Tony Blair.
It is, in fact, a place which, as Owen Hatherley explained in an excellent article for the Guardian last year (which I also drew on here), is responsible for “the most spectacular expression of London’s transformation into a city with levels of inequality that previous generations liked to think they’d fought a war to eliminate.” Read the rest of this entry »
At 1 am on November 14, 2012, I decided to take a late night bike ride to Canary Wharf, the modern mutant offspring of the City of London. The City is an ancient lawless zone, but it is now rivalled by the lawlessness of the Docklands project initiated under Margaret Thatcher, which expanded hugely under Tony Blair.
Canary Wharf, which I first photographed here, fascinates and repels me. Its towers, with their horribly ostentatious show of wealth, and their disdain for even vaguely concealing how much money can be made through devious behaviour that ought to be illegal — and in many cases is — are visible from almost everywhere, and are particularly dominant from all over south east London, where I live. However, while the buildings are, in some ways, architecturally impressive, that is not all that calls out across the miles when One Canada Square and its phallic companions are glimpsed from afar. The wealth they display is also meant to intimidate and/or dazzle those mere mortals — the majority of us, in other words — who earn in a lifetime what well-paid bankers take home in a year.
I’ll be analysing Canary Wharf further in the article following this one, which features the photos I took in the heart of Canary Wharf. In contrast, this set features the start of my journey, through Deptford and Greenwich, including Deptford High Street, which stands in total contrast to the wealth and rarefied shopping malls of Canary Wharf (which I photographed here). I then cycled through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and took photos in Millwall, and also of Millwall Inner Dock, South Quay DLR station and the mainly residential developments around them, including the Pan Peninsula towers, luxury high-rises that deliberately scorn the ordinary humans below, with their promotional material celebrating those who “inhabit a private universe.”
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, 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.
Night Lights: Camberwell to New Cross at Night, a set on Flickr.
This photo set is the 83rd in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, and after my recent publication of a series of photo sets from last July, featuring a journey through the East End to Stratford and the Olympic Park, on the eve of the Olympic Games, I thought it was time to return to the present — and also to publish some photos taken at night. For the previous photos, see here, here, here and here — and here for my journey around the perimeter of the Olympic Park.
As a result, I’m posting here a set of 15 photos I took at night a few days ago, during a journey from Camberwell to my home in Brockley, in south east London, after collecting my son from an art class organised by Southwark’s schools and the South London Gallery, and then escorting him to Denmark Hill station, to catch a train home. A month ago, in a set entitled, “Mostly Camberwell, At Night,” I published photos from a variation on this journey — from Brockley to Camberwell and back — although on that occasion I travelled back home through East Dulwich, and it was raining. On Tuesday, when it was dry, I cycled through Peckham instead, taking in a few council estates on the way — in Camberwell, Peckham and New Cross. Read the rest of this entry »
Suddenly, Snow: Brockley at Night, a set on Flickr.
The opportunity to take these photos of the streets of Brockley in the snow, with the pavements empty of people and the streets almost empty of traffic, came to me unexpectedly at 2.45am last night. As I was about to go to bed, I noticed, through a window, that the outside world looked white, and, on closer inspection, discovered to my delight that it was snowing.
Five minutes later, I was dressed and venturing out into the night, discovering that the snow had been falling steadily for a few hours, and was settling, although I also discovered that it was very wet, and that the chances of it lasting beyond the morning were vanishingly remote. Read the rest of this entry »
Mostly Camberwell, At Night, a set on Flickr.
Recently, I’ve been posting a variety of photos from my visit to the US in January, to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison (see here, here, here and here), my more recent visit to Brighton for another Guantánamo event (see here and here), and the huge protest in Lewisham on January 26 to save the hospital from butchers in NHS management and the government (here and here). As a result, I have rather neglected my project to record the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, although I continue to cycle and photograph the city, and now have an unpublished archive of at least 10,000 photos, which, realistically, will only be made available if I make the project into something more formal than it is at present. Any advice on this — leads, contacts, funders — is most welcome.
To make amends for my distraction regarding my London project, I’m posting my 75th set of London photos, which features photos I took at night just two days ago, and I’ll follow up soon with other London sets, interspersed with more photos of New York from my US trip, and a last set — for now — of Brighton. Read the rest of this entry »
Deptford and Rotherhithe on New Year’s Day, a set on Flickr.
On New Year’s Day, from 11.30pm until 1am on the morning of January 2, I decided to take a bike ride around my neighbourhood, in part because I’m almost permanently enthusiastic about cycling and taking photos at night, but even more particularly because I’d taken a late night bike ride down to Greenwich in the early hours of New Year’s Eve that had been so enjoyable that I could hardly wait to do it again.
So just before midnight on January 1, after tidying the house following our annual family Hogmanay party, I set off down the hill from Brockley in south east london, where I live, thinking that I might visit the River Thames in Greenwich (a favourite destination), although after reaching Deptford — one of my favourite haunts — I surprised myself by not travelling to the river, but heading north along Evelyn Street towards Surrey Quays in Rotherhithe, in the London Borough of Southwark. Surrey Quays was created as part of the huge Docklands redevelopment in the 1980s, which forever changed the face of Rotherhithe. This is an area of London that was once full of docks, and although it is a great shame that south London lost almost all its docks and canals in this period, there are places in the Surrey Quays redevelopment area that were wonderfully successful — Russia Dock Woodland, in particular — which feature fleetingly in this set. I also have other photos from summer that show more of the area, which I hope to publish soon.
This is the 71st set in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began in May last year. I’ll be away from London’s streets for ten days now, as tomorrow I’m flying to the US for events in New York City and Washington D.C. to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo, and to call on President Obama to fulfil his promise to close the prison, which he made when he first took office four years ago.
For a change, if you’re interested, have a look at the photos I took in January last year — in New York, in Washington D.C., and in San Francisco and Chicago — and, although the occasion of my visit is a thoroughly depressing affair, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to talk about the importance of closing Guantánamo, and I’m also looking forward to being reunited with old friends, and taking photos.
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.
Greenwich on the Last Day of the Year, a set on Flickr.
Some of my regular readers will have realised that, although I like cycling and photographing London in all weather, and that I am thoroughly enjoying experiencing the seasons first-hand, I am particularly fascinated by the city at night. I have always been a night owl, and at university, more years ago than I care to remember, I would, in winter, stay up all night, cycling around and taking photographs until dawn, and then returning to my room to sleep.
I don’t stay up all night anymore, but recalling those days reminds me of how, although some things in life change fundamentally, others don’t. My love of cycling, which began when I was a small child, has never left me, and nor, it seems, has my love of the night, and of taking photographs at night. Read the rest of this entry »
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