The Open-Air Street Artists of Ashby Mews, Brockley, a set on Flickr.
Before Brockley, in south east London, was mugged by the selfish and arrogant forces of gentrification, with the arrival of the upgraded East London Line, it had been a haven for Bohemians for many decades — with artists, writers and musicians all taking advantage of its leafiness and its affordability.
At the heart of Brockley are broad, tree-lined Victorian streets, mostly built in the 1880s and 1890s, when the former fields of Brockley were opened up to developers with the arrival of the railway. These roads form a conservation area, first designated as such by Lewisham Council in 1973, in recognition of the area’s “special architectural and historic interest,” which was extended in 1991, 1993 and 2005. Read the rest of this entry »
Since I began my project, ten weeks ago, to cycle the whole of London by bike, armed only with a camera, I have managed to become quite familiar with the whole of south east London, Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, and the banks of the Thames — on the north from London Bridge to the Royal Docks, and on the south from Blackfriars Bridge to Thamesmead, as well as travelling to Stratford — in search of the Olympics — and back, and in this latest set, taken a few weeks ago on a bike ride into central London from south east London — to be followed imminently by a rainy set of photos from the City of London — I found some parts of south east London I had never found before — in Nunhead (in the London Borough of Lewisham) and Peckham, Walworth and Borough (in the London Borough of Southwark), and some that were familiar, which I came across in a largely unplanned manner.
The parts of London I have covered in the last ten weeks are, I concede, only a fraction of this vast metropolis, but the dozens of journeys I have undertaken have made me fit, and have stretched my eyes and my mind, which had become cooped up after six years of researching and writing about Guantánamo and the “war on terror,” and after the 21 months that I have spent railing against the cruelty and myopia of the Tory-led coalition government, which, through an obsession with destroying the state and privatising whatever was not already privatised by Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown, has initiated a savage and deluded age of austerity. Read the rest of this entry »
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 account — a 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 »
Bermondsey and the River Thames, June 2012, a set on Flickr.
This set of photos, recording elements of a journey I made by bike on June 28, 2012 from south east London to the West End and back, is the third set of photos of London that I’ve uploaded to my recently established Flickr account, based on my newly-discovered means of escape from the chains that tie me to my computer and my work as a freelance investigative journalist — cycling around London with a camera, recording whatever captures my attention: buildings old and new, the sky, the river, trees and parks, and street art.
I’m also drawn to signs of emptiness, untidiness and decay that stand in contrast to the shiny new corporate buildings and endless “luxury” housing developments that are still springing up as part of a rigged economy, and that stand in such marked contrast to the savage age of austerity to which London’s poorer citizens are being subjected. Read the rest of this entry »
The Isle of Dogs, the River Lea and the Olympics, a set on Flickr.
Regular readers will know that, after the rainiest spring in living memory, I found myself unable to stay in the house when the sun started shining again. My mission to take advantage of the good weather, and to take exercise and stretch my eyes and my mind beyond what I was beginning to regard as the confines of my computer, has resulted, over the last few months, in numerous journeys around London by bike. With my camera close at hand, the intention of these journeys has generally had less to do with getting from A to B than with wandering, getting lost and exploring.
I recently set up a Flickr account, initially posting photos of my trip to the US in January to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo, and of other protests in the UK, but this week I also began posting photos from my London journeys, beginning with a set of photos of my initial cycle journey around Deptford and Greenwich, and continuing here. Others will follow soon.
I am, I think, fulfilling a long dormant need to be in motion physically rather than constantly undertaking the mental journeys of the last five years of my life as a full-time freelance investigative journalist, and I am also at the beginning of a long project to travel — and photograph — the whole of London by bike. I have discovered that, as well as looking for spectacular views of the city that has been my home for 27 years, including many that I have never seen before, I am also in search of forgotten corners, and images of decay, often set against those of what is often termed “regeneration,” as well as the explosions of dissent and nonconformity and colour that are to be found in London’s street art. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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