Welcome to the first iN-PUBLiC hosted online exhibition. This exhibition brings together photographers who have worked extensively within London’s renowned financial district, colloquially known as the Square Mile.
The exhibition has been divided into two sections. The first section ‘Before’, shows the City in it’s full busy glory, a thriving centre of banking, investment and insurance. The second section ‘After’, illustrates the dramatic change that the City has undergone due to the Covid19 viral outbreak in 2020.
Charlie Kwai is a native East Londoner living and working in the UK Capital.
Overtime observes the cold, hard truths of city life – exposing the side effects of a lifetime of work, peering into the obscure and humorous daily grind of the business man. The work straddles between the amusing and sobering reality of the occupational hazards that come with the pursuit of success – where no prisoners are taken in the underbelly of the City of London
As a street photographer, I take an observational view of how our present circumstances govern our behaviour individually and in crowds. Progressively, we appear to interact with each other only on a synthetic basis. We attempt to mass connect with the aid of modern technology, but in so doing pay less attention to individual connection. I think this is compounded by the increasingly designed environment we inhabit. The codes we see, hear and read within it impact upon our behavioural processes and ultimately isolate us.
“In developing scenes, I try to choose architectural backgrounds against which I can display separated figures, distributing or choreographing them across the frame. The architecture becomes incidental to a scene or situation that may or may not evolve within it. I tend to look for sites or places where people pass through without congregating. To begin with, if there is one figure or two or more figures who are positioned apart, I’ll wait until they’re joined by others in the hope that they’ll create a spatial and enigmatic dialogue. The figures often take on the look of stressed automatons acting out prescribed scenes. At a time when it’s becoming harder to discern what is human and what isn’t, their isolation from each other serves to emphasize an unreal and machine-like formality. These isolated figures don’t have to be interesting in themselves, so long as they create a narrative tension with others. It’s important that there is an element of movement from the figures. Everything must appear to be changing and in flux at the same time as retaining a spatial integrity. In an age wracked with anxiety and uncertainty, there is still a challenge to inject a boisterous creativity into a streetscape of robotic conformity.”
Richard Baker is based in South London, he studied documentary photography at Newport under renowned Magnum photographer David Hurn and has gone on to document many aspect of British Life from the Red Arrows display team to the current Coronavirus crisis. He tries, in his own words, to “pursue projects that are geographical or merely zeitgeists of the incongruous and the everyday”.
Crossing the ancient boundaries into the City is like entering a zoo-like enclosure in which my species doesn’t belong. I don’t wear a blue suit and my shoes aren’t polished enough to allow me entry into an office atrium. In fact, if in the past I have walked into an indoor corporate space, security sentinels have looked me up and down then pointed me to Deliveries, round the back. The Tradesman’s entrance.
And yet, unlike in other parts of the capital, even during times of Irish and Islamic terrorism and the proliferation of CCTV, the camera isn’t seen as a suspicious object by the City worker. With a sense of pride of their workplaces, they pour off the trains at Liverpool Street and pace to their offices with a glow. The attention goes with the job.
It’s been years since I last saw the same old gentleman who would come through Cornhill towards Bank and pay for his Evening Standard: a man in his seventies wearing a bowler, pinstriped suit with a brolly on an arm. For woman back then, it was big hair, pearls and Thatcherite shoulder pads. And for the lads, the uniform of money was check and brogues. Nowadays, bare ankles are showing and Brylcreem is back.
My first proper forays here were when a magazine paid me to photograph a year in the life of the City in the early nineties. Every time I walk back in today, the social adjustments are subtly noticeable. Happily, the pictures age immediately.
London based Polly Braden is a documentary photographer whose work features an ongoing conversation between the people she photographs and the environment in which they find themselves. Highlighting the small, often unconscious gestures of her subjects, Polly particularly enjoys long-term, in depth collaborations that in turn lends her photographs a unique, quiet intimacy.
“Any critique – any attempt to reform the City – has to end as well as begin with the human dimension and an understanding of the environment in which those humans operate. Polly Braden’s atmospheric, intensely evocative photographs remind us that the square mile is still just as much a world of its own as it was in Charlotte Brontë’s long-ago days. Yes, the modern City has become a self-perpetuating, over-rewarded island, too much cut off from the rest of Britain. But it would be a shame, even a tragedy, if it were ever to lose completely its own very particular specialness.”
After drumming in rock bands and gaining a master’s degree in journalism, Nicholas Sack took up photography in his mid-twenties. He enjoyed a thirty-year career freelancing for magazines, but now concentrates on personal projects shot on black & white film on long walks across London and printed in his darkroom.
These photographs are the latest in a long-running series of office workers in the streets of London’s financial district and around the docklands development of Canary Wharf. What began 30 years ago as an exploration of these overbearing buildings has distilled to a close sociological study of their day-time inhabitants. Themes of estrangement and dislocation emerge; the spaces between members of this peculiar tribe are as significant as the figures themselves.
Young, smartly dressed women feature prominently, striding between work-station and sandwich-bar, with men in pursuit as if directed by Hitchcock. Men in blinding white shirts, hands thrust in trouser pockets, parade like stock figures by Magritte; stairs and concrete decks convey regularly spaced figures as if on an eternal treadmill designed by Escher. Headphones and electronic devices induce a state of reverie to their self-tagged recipients. There are precise distinctions between the gestures and stances of each sex. When the air is chilly, women hurry with their arms crossed; when waiting for a date, women stand with legs crossed at the ankles. Men never do.
Andy Hall is based in London and has been a freelance photographer since 1989. Specializing in photo essays from home and abroad, his work has taken him on a wide range of commissioned news, portrait, landscape and social documentary features for numerous publications around the world including The Guardian, The Observer, Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine. Andy is also an established street photographer with a growing reputation.
Ten years ago, in 2008, the collapse of the banks precipitated the worst financial crash in almost a century.
The heart of the world’s banking industry, along with Wall st, is the historical heart of the City of London known as the Square Mile. Where modern finance was born; this small area has always been the most dynamic of places – a place of boom and bust: of constant re-invention; and right now undergoing a huge construction boom, despite the next threat looming around the corner – Brexit.
Stephen Mclaren was a television producer and director before moving into photography and writing in 2005. Of Scottish heritage, he now lives in Los Angeles. In 2010 Stephen was co author of Street Photography Now published by Thames and Hudson which surveyed the contemporary Street Photography scene. In 2017 his project, The Crash about the impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on London’s banking quarter was published by Hoxton Mini Press.
On the 23rd March 2020, the British Government announced a lockdown imposing new rules on the movement of the population in an effort to control the spread of the Coronavirus. People were only allowed to leave their homes for a small number of reasons. In the Financial District of London, offices closed and people were sent home to work. This had a dramatic effect on the look and feel of the Square Mile, one of the busiest districts of London was left deserted with billions of pounds worth of real estate sitting empty.
A number of photographers responded to this unprecedented event by recording the streets of the Square Mile largely devoid of people in beautiful and eerie pictures.
Photographer Chris Dorley-Brown has spent decades recording the changes taking place in the East End of London, the demolitions and developments, the transformations and the gentrification of the Eastern part of the City and beyond. When the lockdown was enacted, Chris used his daily exercise allowance to cycle to various parts of the capital to record the empty streets. Many of his chosen locations were part of the Financial District and it is those images that we show here.
Based in SE London, Nick Turpin has been photographing the City for 30 years. His work explores aspects of life in a huge metropolis, commuting, advertising, commercialisation of public space as well as the details of daily street life.
“My work has always had people and their lives at its heart but the Coronavirus crisis of 2020 has forced me to approach the street in a different way. The absence of people has made the spaces and buildings of the city much more prominent characters in my pictures. I have always been drawn to photographing in the financial district but it seems more poignant now that the glass and steel monuments to wealth creation have been deserted”
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