In the days either side of the iron curtain coming down, there was much commentary about Eastern Europe’s Soviet style housing projects, derelict industries, urban decay and the like.
At the time, some European friends used to tease me that the UK was the last iron curtain country (this was before Brit-pop and cool Brittania were developed to help raise the nation’s self-esteem and marketability). When I recently dug out these old negatives, I began to see what they meant.
These photos were taken sometime in the early 1990s. They are predominantly based around the Silvertown area of London. An area which has since been largely redeveloped. Although, some edifices have proved too permanent to erase – the brutalist silos of the old Tate and Lyall sugar factory, for example.
The negatives had been sitting in a cupboard for many years, scratched and faded. But the value of these images is not in their, sometimes limited, aesthetic quality.
These are photographs of the spaces in-between. They are a visual counterpoint, from a time and place often overtly associated with very different cultural imagery. A country which was rapidly changing from being economically linked to heavy industry, to one reliant on financial services. Where new cultural terms and references were emerging. Where the internet was essentially unheard of and new forms of digital communication were just emerging.
In 2014, twenty years later, I returned to the same part of London, to carry out the second part of this project.