Sunday, January 14, 2018

HS2. The Wrecking Begins

Reverend Anne Stevens and local resident Jo Hurford, Euston Square Gardens

On Friday the Reverend Anne Stevens, vicar of St.Pancras Church, spent two hours chained to a 100 year-old plane tree outside Euston station, whilst local residents handed out leaflets to passing commuters. Work has already started around the planned London end of the HS2 high speed rail link to Birmingham, but the protest marked a significant escalation in the disruption which will turn the area into a building site for an estimated 17 years. On Monday Euston Square Gardens will be fenced off, and the felling of its century-old trees will begin, clearing the park to make way for construction vehicles, expected to average 650 trucks a day.

As many have pointed out, HS2 as planned is seriously flawed. It is extremely expensive (and getting pricier by the week), poorly integrated with the existing network, and its London terminal is in the wrong place, a densely populated area already home to three of the capital's principal railway stations. To cap it all comes news that Carillion, one of the major contractors involved in construction of the new line, is in serious financial difficulty.

Whilst all taxpayers will be forking out the cash for this, local residents have the added nightmare of living through it, windows closed, day in day out for almost two decades.  More pictures here.  More words and pictures here and here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

An Archival Impulse

Committee Meeting, 510 Centre, North Paddington 1978
In the spirit of archivism, I'm making accessible an article I wrote for the British Journal of Photography in 2010 to mark the demise of Photoworks Westminster (formerly North Paddington Community Darkroom), a community-based photography project that I set up in the 510 Centre, a busy grant-funded advice and community centre at 510 Harrow Road, in 1976. A PDF of the piece can be downloaded here.

This archival impulse has been prompted by a request from the Four Corners project in Bethnal Green which, in addition to documenting the heritage of its own film work, is creating a new archive exploring the photographic practice of its onetime neighbour, the Half Moon Photography Workshop (later Camerawork), from its creation in 1972 to its closure in 2004.

The travelling exhibitions, workshops and, above all, the roughly quarterly issues of Camerawork magazine (1976-85), were hugely influential at a time when a wave of community-based photography projects were springing up in various parts of the capital and elsewhere. As a self-taught photographer working in uncharted territory, the opportunity to read about and discuss the work of those with greater knowledge and experience was invaluable. I contributed what I could, but learned a lot more.

For those wishing to explore this bygone world further, there is now also a North Paddington Community Darkroom Archive at the Bishopsgate Institute, which includes a collection of laminated exhibition panels dating from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Meanwhile Gardens, North Paddington 1983
Dominica Democratic Association meeting, 510 Centre, 1977