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.

The random urban photographer

An intoxication comes over the man who walks long and aimlessly through the street. With each step, the walk takes on greater momentum; ever weaker grow the temptations of shops, of bistros, of smiling women, ever more irresistible the magnetism of the next street corner, of a distant mass of foliage, of a street name.
– Walter Benjamin

Zollstraße

Zollstraße

This aimless meandering through the streets appears to have no plan or purpose. But this randomness is the flâneur’s rationale – to experience the life of the city by surrendering to it’s ebb and flow – the chance encounters and unexpected discoveries, which can only be revealed through the act of walking.

It is these discoveries that we stumble across when we are perhaps looking for something else that was the genesis for creating this photographic journal – a visual diary of my meandering journeys and interests.

Follow Le flâneur’s walks, a series of photo essays – each which commenced with a random observed moment that led to the next street corner and a new departure…

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.