David Bailey's East End - in pictures

© David Bailey (Detail of the original)

There's nothing like photographic nostalgia, David Bailey's East End delivers this in abundance. Bailey's renowned for his photographs of the rich and famous, what can be overlooked is his documentary work of ordinary life and its surroundings. It's good to see that he hasn't forgotten his roots, he has a genuine love of photography as a way of recording people and places.

Sadly this exhibition only ran for a month. Apparently there's no plans for it to tour, a lot of effort for just one month! There were approx 60 photographs including large format which are mounted on scaffolding and wooden planks. More captions on some of the works would have helped in locating where some of the photographs were taken.

The exhibition was housed in the old Compressor House at the Royal Docks. An interesting building surrounded by a soulless landscape and uninspiring modern architecture, odd it survived the bulldozer when the docks were flattened. Apparently it was used as offices until recently, which was a life saver. Although its a bit remote It's certainly a great space for staging such events.

The photographs covered three periods, the 1960s, 1980s and 2000s, each having its own distinctive look. The early black and white photographs have a graphic and atmospheric feel to them, reflecting poorer times of crumbling buildings and playing in the street. The 1960s were photographed with uncoated lens creating a rather gritty look. The 1980s shot in larger format, provide a sharper image with greater contrast. Capturing the area before the demolition teams moved in.

The 1960s include the infamous East End Kray twins, but more interesting were the characters that attended the dimly lit clubs and bars, one can almost cough on the smoke. The heavily made up women and the tough looking men are brilliant, these are printed in large format in that lovely warm colour of the period.

The digital photographs from the 2000s include a record of the pre Olympic development. They also reflect the the cultural changes of the area. I found these photographs less appealing, some of the compositions were quite ordinary, surprising considering Bailey's eye for good composition. Maybe it's a time thing or digital colour, they are a record of the recent and as yet have not achieved that feel.

Overall I enjoyed the exhibition, well worth the effort. It was great chance to see an iconic photographer's work in such an intimate setting.

It will be interesting to see if it appears elsewhere, the Whitechapel Gallery may be?

To view more images go to; http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2012/jun/26/david-bailey-...

Preview at; http://createlondon.org/events/david-baileys-east-end.html

 

 

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