Backyard Magazine – encouraging photographers to stay at home

If you haven’t come across Backyard – an online photo magazine – take a look. It celebrates the work of photographers who seek to explore the world at their doorstep – our local communities and friends – the stories that are literally around the corner.

The creators of Backyard, Mark Burton and Bronwyn Goodwin, invited a group of potential contributors to participate in a unique event – the opportunity to help create a special pop-up edition of Backyard.

The contributors were split into three groups, initially we just went through the photo submissions – debating, discussing and commenting on each of the contributions. Then we heard the background and the explanation for each of the submissions – did it change our view on how we viewed some of the submissions?

We returned to our groups and went through the submissions a second time – the aim was to come up with a selection of five submissions for the featured galleries of the third edition. As we reviewed the votes of each of the groups we saw some shared and divergent views – demonstrating the challenges and tough decisions that are part of the editor’s role.

You can see the results of this afternoon of discussion and debate in the third edition of Backyard

Backyard Pop-up issue

Kings Cross central

Continuing the theme of the London Street Photography festival I took the opportunity to join a guided walk by Alan Dein around the Kings Cross area. The walk, part of a programme of events planned as part of the festival, took us  behind Kings Cross and St Pancras stations – a vast re-development site.

Alan  provided some context by showing how over the next few years the post industrial landscape of the area around the stations of Kings Cross and St Pancras will become the home for a new university campus for 5,000 students, a creative hub and the creation of new housing on what has for decades been a no mans land of empty warehouses and the detritus of a different era.

Pancras Road N1

Pancras Road N1

We begin at the Eurostar terminal – walking north to the enclave of the Camley street gardens, an oasis in the midst of an industrial wasteland. From here we travel under the railway bridges that cut through the area to the old St Pancras churchyard, which once stretched across most of the area north of the Euston Road. As we leave the church gates we pass into Somers Town, a distinct community that has seen major re-development and ‘improvement’ over the years. I is also home to a variety of experiments in social housing including the St Pancras Home Improvement Society, established by Basil Jellicoe in the years following the 1st World War.

Somers Town N1

Somers Town N1

As we leave Somers Town by crossing the Euston Road we enter a distinctly different part of London – though we have only walked across the road…

The London Street Photography Festival

The occasion of the first London Street Photography Festival has acted as a bit of a catalyst to complete a couple of projects and I’ve also added a walk that arose out of workshop as part of the festival, which was coordinated by David Gibson and Jesse Marlow (also the winner of the International award at the festival). Both members of the street photographer’s collective iN-Public the workshop was a great opportunity to get a perspective on how they both see street photography. They offered a variety of ways that we can see street photography and the range of their own work – and that of a few other select photographers really gave the workshop participants a very broad understanding of street photography that was very liberating.

The project they gave us – the impossible letters, was a great way to direct our eyes. It was a reminder that once you start noticing something in your environment it often continues to appear to your eyes…

Jerrome street E1

Jerrome street E1

Adding the outcome from the workshop seemed an ideal time to add two new series, a new one from Dusseldorf, reflecting my experience of the Christmas market and an extended series on Highgate Wood – my local London park.

I’ve been visiting the Christmas market in Dusseldorf now for over 10 years. It has become part of my Christmas ritual to wander the altstadt to experience the idealised village world created in the heart of a Dusseldorf. But the real reason to go is to share in the communal experience of the Marktplatz where Dusseldorfers come together to close the year. The stalls selling socks, wooden toys, crystals and other gifts are just the backdrop and an excuse to gather in the public space.

Weihnachtsmarkt Düsseldorf

Weihnachtsmarkt Düsseldorf

Highgate Wood, my local park is part wildlife reserve, part Victorian park. A remnant of the ancient forest of Middlesex, to walk off its pathways is to imagine the vast forests that 500 years ago covered much of London, Hertfordshire and Essex. Today it’s an idealised little rural world just 6km from central London.

New Stolpersteine and London images

Cecileneallee 11 Dusseldorf; Franz Anselm Cohen-Altmann - UBS wealth management are now located in this building

Cecileneallee 11 Dusseldorf; Franz Anselm Cohen-Altmann – UBS wealth management are now located in this building

Le flaneur spent Christmas 2010 in Dusseldorf enjoying the snow but also exploring the pavements to discover new stolpersteine locations in the city. This most recent journey brings the total number of  individual addresses to 43. These new additions build on existing concentrations and introduce new locations to the catalogue. This most recent set of additions has also encouraged a revision of the existing structure of the series, reflecting the organic way the project has grown and evolved over the past two years.

One of the more revealing discoveries was walking north along the Rhine from the old town centre. On the Cecileneallee it seemed ironic to find that the building that once housed a victim of Nazi resettlement is now occupied by UBS wealth management – a company implicated in the use of slave labour during the war.

Highgate Wood London

Highgate Wood London

December 2010 also saw the completion of a new London series, a London journey. It follows a meandering pattern across London – from Highgate and Muswell Hill in the north, along the southbank of the Thames to the district of Bermondsey in the east and points between. Its a broad swathe of London history from the London Bishop’s estates in the north to the ancient districts on the edge of the City of London.

Stolpersteine update

Stolpersteine, Ursulinengasse 7 Dusseldorf - Altstadt; Karl Jung

The Düsseldorf Stolpersteine series has grown to encompass Stolpersteine from 24 locations across the city.

Our journey takes us from the ancient town centre – the Altstadt, across the Rhine to the upmarket Oberkassel and then southeast to the old working class district of Eller.

As we stumble across the ‘stones’ we can see that some have been in place for several years – becoming part of the pavement with their softened corners and the marks of the revolving cycles of the seasons. With the more recent ‘stones’ one can still see the evidence of the hand of Gunter Demnig in the disturbed pavement and the new clear brass.

A map of Stolpersteine locations can be found here →

Stolpersteine series added

Kirschfeldstrasse 145 Dusseldorf; Henriette Lion

Kirschfeldstrasse 145 Dusseldorf; Henriette Lion

The Düsseldorf Stolpersteine series has now been added to the site, a walk which follows the locations of Stolpersteine in a variety of districts in the city.

I first discovered Stolpersteine (stumble stones) in Berlin in the summer of 2006. Further research revealed that the Stolpersteine project is the work of a single German artist – Gunter Demnig and that today more than 13,000 Stopersteine are embedded in streets all over Germany and a growing number of European cities.

As I have walked around Düsseldorf, a trajectory dictated by maps of existing locations, I have discovered the organic nature of the project – literally ‘stumbling’ across recently installed ‘stones’ or directed to other locations by local residents.

Updates to memories and le murs de Paris


Rue de Cascades Paris 20ème

Rue de Cascades Paris 20ème

Le flâneur has been busy with several updates to existing series on the website. Following Christmas in Düsseldorf in December 2008 more examples of the stolpersteine project have been added to ‘Memories of the displaced’ and additional images from Poland have also been added.

On my various trips to Poland what has always struck me is how well individual graves are maintained and regularily visited by family members. The jewish cemeteries present a different story however - broken and overgrown graves and little evidence of the detrius of family visits.

On my various trips to Poland what has always struck me is how well individual graves are maintained and regularily visited by family members. The jewish cemeteries present a different story however – broken and overgrown graves and little evidence of the detrius of family visits.

‘Les murs de paris’ also has additional images added from a recent visit in November 2008. During this visit I discovered that the prowling urban tigers on Mosko and Associés mural at Villa de L’Ermitage had been painted over – with featureless gray paint.

Several images from the series ‘Memories of the displaced’ were published in the winter 2008 edition of the London Independent Photography magazine. You can download a copy here →