At the start of July I was in London for a couple of days for a conference on a research project. Naturally I booked a seat on a coach arriving stupidly early in the morning (6:15AM) and took my camera. I spent about three hours wandering a circuitous route from Victoria to the conference hall in Millbank, just behind Parliament, via Battersea on the south side of the Thames. Fortunately, it turned out to be a pretty gorgeous morning. Here are the best of the photos I took.
After crossing the river at Chelsea Bridge Road, I was surprised to see a large park on my right (most of London is unfamiliar to me). The park, I know now, was Battersea Park, and has more foliage and interest to it than London’s royal parks in the North. The lake was full of bird life waking up to another summer’s day.
The area around Battersea Power Station is a hive of activity, with apartment blocks in every stage of construction. The area exudes gentrification. Embassy Gardens is a group of steel and glass high-rise apartments. Some are finished and some are still under construction. One had a Waitrose on the ground floor that I went into for a morning coffee. Opposite the supermarket entrance were these boards celebrating the lives of the current residents.
They look like no community wall I’ve ever seen. They look like an Apple advert.
These people are the neoliberal elite. Of course their life is captured on Instagram. It hasn’t been lived if it hasn’t been witnessed, isn’t that the truth of certain strata of every generation (and particularly my own)? You know exactly which countries they come from, how much money their parents have, what jobs they do (if they work), and how much material possessions and extrinsic validation matters to them.
“London is our city” the board pronounces. How many Londoners would agree with them? How many Londoners would recognise these lives?
These two shots are of the infamous St George Wharf apartment complex, where two-thirds of flats are foreign-owned and thought to be largely unoccupied. It is a striking building, and a deeply saddening one. Land is for use, not appreciation. Housing is for living, not capital accumulation.
By the time I’d got to the Palace of Westminster, it was already 9 o’clock and the pleasing early scattering of cloud and rising, tempered sunlight had been replaced by a wash of deep blue, evenly lit by a strong, summer sun. This doesn’t illuminate buildings very interestingly, so I really struggled to capture anything publishable, but felt I should at least include one shot of Parliament. This photo still took extensive tweaking and colour correction in Lightroom and content-aware cropping and filling in Photoshop. The Thames in front of Parliament, for example, is full of dirty old boats that draw your focus away and dissipate any feeling of majesty and power that this building should exude.
As ever, pictures taken with a Canon Powershot G7X Mark II. Edits made in Lightroom 6 and Photoshop 2017.