LONDON STREET PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE MUSEUM OF LONDON
George Reid, C Museum of London
On Saturday I went to the above exhibition, which was free, always a plus! I have a genuine interest in photography, I love photographs and the memories they hold and have more often than not been accused of having the 'snap happy' approach to photography!
I was keen to see this exhibition as it combines two of my favourite things - photography and London. It proved to be a very popular day to go, as I had to get a ticket to view the exhibition at an allocated time due to how busy it was - so if you plan to go, check in at reception to see if you need to get a time ticket.
The exhibition starts with a video of some of the photographers involved in the exhibition, discussing what photography meant to them and how they got into street photography. I particularly liked Matt Stuart's piece, he came across as very down to earth and explained how it is 'important to work out who you are as an artist,' and that you get 'inspiration from others but you need to make it your own and not just imitate it.' I thought this was an interesting point as this can be applied across the board, not just in photography. We all get inspired by different people and is it always great to have inspiration but it is also important to use this in the right way to create your own mark.
There was a great character in this film - Wolf Suschitzky, who talked about how it was much easier to photograph in the street in years gone by as no one really paid any attention, unlike today where people will always notice a camera.
The photographs themselves take you on a journey through London's history. I think my favourites were the older photographs as they help illustrate a time I have no connection to and so help tell a story. I particularly liked one of Henry Dixon's shots from 1882 as you could see a poster / advert in the foreground for Singer sewing machines; a 'trendy' antique to have nowadays.
A couple of other favourites were Paul Martin's 'Street Urchins' which illustrated three young children sitting on the pavement - two without any shoes on, and George Davison Reid's shot titled 'Crowds outside the newspaper house' Fleet Street 1930. (image above) This crowd was all men and they all were wearing bowler hats, except the young boys in flat caps. It shows a different era, a time when it was deemed unsuitable for men to leave the house without their hat on.
Life did look much harder in the early 1900's and you can tell this in some of the subjects faces - yet there is a clear sense of unity as there were several shots from the Queen's coronation which showed families setting up the street for their celebrations - something you'd struggle to find nowadays.
The more modern shots had a much more playful side to them and were entertaining for a different reasons. I liked a shot taken on the ground of the lower half of a pigeon walking alongside the legs of men in suits.
Overall I think it was a great exhibition and would highly recommend to all, not just those from London but everyone. The fact that it is free is a great plus and reminded me that I need to make the most of all free exhibitions in future!
Henry Grant, 1967-04 C Henry Grant Collection, Museum of London on display for London Street Photography at the Museum.
C Paul Russell, Courtesy Museum of London
With thanks to The Museum of London for the images.