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Market porter, 1984
Market porter, 1984

Spitalfields Market, London E1

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Briefcase, 1984
Briefcase, 1984

Spitalfields Market, London E1

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Whitechapel street scene, 1984
Whitechapel street scene, 1984

London E1

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Market porter, 1984
Market porter, 1984

Spitalfields Market, London E1

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London E1, 1984

 

Back in 1984 I was a nineteen-year-old student studying photography at the Plymouth College of Art & Design in Devon. For my final assignment, I visited Whitechapel in the East End of London and spent two days walking the streets making these photographs.

 

In all honesty, I had no plan. I was given too much free reign. Perhaps if I had accepted that place at the Newport School of documentary photography, then maybe these photographs might have had a story running through them.  

 

In the end my assignment was never fully realized. I had too many pictures to print, it was expensive and I had no real story to tell or a way of displaying them. Out of several hundred exposures, maybe a dozen were printed and displayed briefly in the college foyer.

 

Then recently I read about the controversial redevelopment of the old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane and it prompted me to dig out the old 35mm negatives. 

 

Initially I scanned one or two out of curiosity but I found myself captivated. Time had given these photographs a wonderful context that I was unable to provide myself. Photographs that 37 years ago I would have quickly discarded had become treasure troves. Thank goodness we didn't have a delete button back then.

The photographs are full of information. I seem to remember these were made over two days around April 1984. I can tell from the school children that it was a weekday. The first day was wet and raining and the second day was hot and bright.

 

Some of the street scenes in the photographs are barely recognizable, so much regeneration has taken place. If I follow the exposure numbers on the film negatives I can roughly trace my walking path through those streets. 

Contact me with caption corrections.

Mat 

East_End219.jpg

Mat Hughes
National Express Coach Station, Plymouth 1984

 
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