An otherside to cladding

Over the last weeks, I’ve photographed with people who are living through cladding remediation works and these are two of the images. The individuals and families that have taken part were in scaffolded buildings, unable to see outside for many months and with reduced light-levels inside their homes. Though moving forward with making the building safe, the living conditions intensified existing feelings of being trapped by the cladding scandal. Windows are either blocked or kept shut to keep out the noise and intrusion. The photographs represent that situation of being at home, but within a building site, and should provoke important questions about living through remediation.

I am looking to continue doing this so if your cladding situation is similar, then please do get in touch

Protest at Parliament

These photographs are from the End Our Cladding Scandal rally outside Parliament yesterday.  It was scheduled to coincide with the return of the Building Safety Bill to the Commons and the debate on the Lords’ amendments. The rally saw excellent speeches from politicians and campaigners with some really good coverage from the media. The government however voted down the amendments in the Commons and so the Building Safety Bill now goes back to the Lords for further scrutiny. The Bill surely needs much more clarity and protection for leaseholders as, after all, it is only they who had no role in creating this Building Safety Crisis.   

All of my cladding photographs are always available for use by the End Our Cladding Scandal team who do incredible work to raise the issues affecting leaseholders.   

Pudding Mill Allotments

This is one image from trips made over the winter months to photograph at the Pudding Mill Allotments.  I’ve written previously that these allotments are under threat because of plans for a development of tall buildings close to the boundary that will over shadow 66% of the plots. With few plants growing at winter time, I wanted to explore light and shadow as a visual metaphor for the situation and this photograph of a cardoon head came out of that idea.

As spring turns to summer, I’ll be returning to see if photographs can be made that are more celebratory of the allotments as a place of growing and of community. 

Photography in the City

Digital Photography in the City is a new course that I am teaching this year at the Mary Ward Centre

Over ten weeks, the Digital Photography in the City course will teach how creative ideas take shape from location to photograph, covering both technical skills and also the understanding of how to use those skills in different situations. It includes urban landscape and architecture, street and street portraiture, nature in context and close up and creative still-life photographs from found objects. This course is blended, so out on location and then online for image reviews and feedback, and will encourage learners to explore the city as well as improve their photography. 

Manor Gardening Society

I have followed the progress of the Manor Gardening Society since 2007, when the gardens of this century old East London allotment society were demolished to make way for the London 2012 Olympic Park. That history is well-documented. When, in 2016, the Society moved to a new permanent home at Pudding Mill Allotments, I photographed soon after the sheds arrived on site in April 2016 and as one of the growers was preparing his patch.

Having established itself anew at Pudding Mill, it’s concerning that the Society is again facing an uncertain future. Proposals for nearby high-rise buildings, within the Bridgewater Triangle development, could overshadow the allotments and severely restrict the areas that can cultivate vegetables. Read this statement by the Society about the scheme.

This month, I returned to photograph the allotments at what is a quiet time of year for growers and, with the support of the Society, I will continue to do so while their campaign continues.  

Protest at City Hall

Some photographs from the Action for Fire Safety Justice protest at City Hall on the 30th of October.  This was a much smaller gathering than that held in September at Parliament Square. With over 1000 buildings affected in London alone, I often wonder why more leaseholders aren’t yet protesting. It is a crisis that has fully exposed the feudal iniquity of leasehold, something which also needs government attention, and people are at risk of losing their homes with this scandal because of the life-changing costs being service charged. 

I was particularly pleased to meet and speak with @ritustweets who has articulated the #EndOurCladdingScandal campaign so clearly and to the benefit of so many others.    

London nights

As my adult education classes are all daytime, from next month, I am offering night photography workshops in London. Learn about the camera settings you need to get sharp, clear images when making long exposures and understand why colour temperature and the histogram are important when photographing at night . The workshops will involve photographing different London landmarks, such as the Shard and London Eye and will explore creating light trails through control of shutter speed.  If night photography is a bit of a mystery or your images are sometimes ‘hit and miss’ then join one or more of these workshops and learn the techniques you need.

Workshops will be small groups and so have a limited number of places. The dates are November 23rd and December 7th and cost is £30 per person.

Please contact me about booking a place and I can then confirm availability and payment options. 

Leaseholders Together Rally

Held at Parliament Square on the 16th September, this was the largest rally yet by leaseholders who were protesting about the handling of the cladding scandal by government. The placards and banners say it all.  This was the first national rally and notably the  minister in charge at the time, Robert Jenrick, has since been dropped from office in the cabinet re-shuffle.  The new minister in charge is Michael Gove and time will tell if this brings any change of direction.  

See End Our Cladding Scandal for more details on the day and I will be supporting future action through photography.

Forms of Industry

The @RIBA Forms of Industry: Online Architectural Photoday is this Sunday 13th June and this image is from quite an extensive collection I’ve made about the utility buildings in the London Olympic Park. The Energy Centre at Kings Yard, designed by John McAslan architects, is inspired by London’s great historic power stations such as Bankside and Battersea but has a contemporary Corten steel facade. From this reverse angle it is the striking red staircase and large container cylinders that feature and which emphasise the functional qualities of the design. 

2012 pin trading

These images were made eight years ago today and show pin badges being traded at the end of  the 2012 Olympics fortnight. The etiquette of pin trading is that the pins are always swapped and not sold and if pins are worn they are usually not available for trade. Pins are produced commercially as Games merchandise but other pins that were never officially available for sale such as those given to staff or athletes are more elusive. The serious traders go from Games to Games in the expectation of adding some missing pins to their collections and it really adds to the social atmosphere in a host city. 

Masjid Jamek - Kuala Lumpur

Designed in the Mogul style by British architect A.B. Hubback, the Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek mosque in Kuala Lumpur opened in 1909 and is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia. I have been visiting Malaysia for over twenty years but only recently researched its preserved colonial architecture. This image shows the grand staircase from the mosque to the river which was ‘re-discovered’ in 2014 having been covered over as modern Malaysia developed. 

This and other heritage images of Kuala Lumpur have been contributed to the RIBApix library.

History Trees - a self-guided walk

With my photowalks remaining on hold, I’ve put together this self-guided walking tour around the Olympic Park using the ten History Trees, by the artists Ackroyd and Harvey, as markers to the route. The History Trees was a public art commission for the 2012 Games that involved planting ten semi-mature trees at locations that were planned to be future ‘gateways’ into the Park. The trees are all different specimens and at the time of planting were some of the most impressive of the 6000 new trees in the Park. Suspended within the canopy of each tree is a large metal ring, six metres in diameter and weighing 500kg, with text engraved on the inner surface memorialising a history of the site. These rings are substantial and the trees are mainly easy to spot so long as you know where they are located. 

The whole walk is about four miles as the History Trees are largely located around the perimeter of the Park but it works well as two shorter walks too. On this map I have pinpointed each tree and made an anti-clockwise route starting at the Turkish hazel tree (Corylus colurna) on the Hackney Wick edge of the Park. Ackroyd and Harvey list all the different tree specimens on this page along with background information about the commission. As well as visiting the trees, this self-guided walk will lead you past the 2012 Games venues from the Copper Box, Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, the former Athletes’ Village, now East Village and the Velodrome.  

Having photographed the History Trees on my walks around the Park for over five years I know the locations can be at times subject to construction works. The silver lime (Tilia tomentosa) was inaccessible for several years when a section of the Greenway was closed. Access to other trees such as the London plane (Platanus x acerfolia) has also been restricted by post-Olympics construction. Ackroyd and Harvey are often described as artists who work with time-based process and so these photographs, while often showing temporary obstructions, are about a gradual rooting into place. The current Park legacy plan concludes after 25 years in 2037 and it follows that the trees and their gateway settings will both reach maturity at around the same time.  

Oslo Opera House

In 2012 I ended a holiday in Norway by staying two nights in an Oslo hotel that overlooked the city’s waterfront regeneration. The cultural centre-piece was the National Opera & Ballet building which had opened in 2008 with the architecture practice, Snohetta, winning the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2009.  The building still looked like new with its angular exterior of glass and granite and interior of oak louvres and white marble. 

There is much that I like about this building but in particular how the architecture embraces the public realm as if the building and landscape are from the same idea. A continuous surface from the rooftop to where the building disappears into the fjord invites an interactivity between the building and the people visiting. They enjoy the views, hang out on the slopes, find spaces to play and can, of course, go to the opera too. 

At the end of the stay I spent a couple of hours making photographs like a street photographer would in a public space where the urban landscape interfaces with the architecture and which was full of people and life. 

The Leaway - a walking tour online

Today I was due to lead a RIBA Friends architecture walking tour along the Leaway in East London. Given the current restrictions it has been postponed though it is hoped the walk will take place later in the year. The Leaway is the backbone for a proposed 26 mile Lea River Park extending along the Lea from Hertfordshire to the River Thames. This walk is a two mile section from the southern tip of the Olympic Park to Cody Dock and this journal post looks at some of the highlights. Photographs are talking points on all my walking tours and I have included images from across the last ten years as a way to show features of the route and some of the changes.   

The walk starts at Pudding Mill Lane DLR station which was rebuilt in 2014. This remains a somewhat isolated location with hoarded land left from when the Olympic Delivery Authority was sited here. The last time I looked there was still a hut with remnants of the 2012 logo. The future of Pudding Mill Lane is at the design masterplan stage and is the last of the Olympic Park legacy housing projects to begin construction. What is known is that some 900 apartments, townhouses and maisonettes as well as workspaces are proposed to be developed.  

Leaving the station in the direction of Stratford High Street the route turns left after the bridge onto the towpath of the City Mill River. By the lock there is a small lock-keepers cottage which is now squeezed between two new larger buildings and so looks very different to my photograph from 2012. The cottage was the home of amateur meteorologist Luke Howard who, in the early nineteenth century, proposed the names of clouds - cumulus, stratus and cirrus - as still used today. 

The next section of the walk looks at some of the surviving buildings from Stratford’s industrial manufacturing past. Leaving the lock, detour briefly up the High Street to look at Warton House with its distinctive ‘Flowersellers’ tiled logo. This Art Deco building from 1937 was the headquarters and box-making premises of the soap manufacturer Yardley and has been preserved with an elegant addition to the roof. 

Cross the High Street and take the towpath along the Three Mills Wall river which passes the Sugar House Island development and Conservation Area. I have mainly photographed from the other side of the ‘Island’ and this image from 2011 shows that view and how the site looked before it was cleared. With a significant industrial heritage since mid-nineteenth century, Sugar House Island has several retained industrial buildings including those of the Dane Group which was based there from 1853 to 2005. The Dane Group produced inks and dyes for the printing industry and became the largest producer of day-glo pigments in the world. Another retained building is the Sugar House - a distinctive red brick building dated 1882 - which was a warehouse for the sugar industry with the first refinery recorded on site in 1843.

The towpath then crosses the Prescott Channel which was created as a flood relief channel in the 1930’s and named after Sir William Prescott,  then the chairman of the Lee Conservancy Board. As the path widens again there is a possible detour to cross Three Mills Green and see Three Mills Lock which was constructed in 2009 as a London 2012 project. The lock controls the tidal reach to the upstream River Lea and has enabled greater usage of the waterways. 

The surface of the path changes to cobbled stone as the route passes through the Three Mills Conservation area. Milling in this location has over a thousand years of history and was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The House Mill that remains today was built in 1776 is Grade 1 listed and the world’s largest surviving tidal mill. As well as providing flour the Mill has a history of producing gin from the time of the Gin Craze in the 18th century. The elegant Clock Mill with the twin conical roofs and cowls of oast kilns is opposite and is a rebuilt structure from 1817. This little bit of Georgian East London is always a surprise to anyone unfamiliar with it. 

Once the concrete path resumes it follows a thin spit of land in the direction of Bow Locks. Take the new ramp onto the Twelvetrees Bridge and then descend to the other bank of the River Lea.  From the bridge there are good views of the Bromley by Bow gasholders which were built between 1872 and 1878 and are all Grade II listed. The Twelvetrees Crescent ramp, opened in early 2017, is one of the Leaway interventions by the architecture practice 5th Studio. This has made easy access to the other bank of the River Lea which used to be quite a long ‘out of the way’ walk.

Just south of Bow Locks and on the edge of the Lime House Cut Conservation Area there is a new housing scheme ‘Lock Keepers’ completed in 2016 by architects Allies and Morrison. The design of the three blocks in red brick and built close to the river edge evokes the industrial warehouses of this part of East London. Then, continuing on this penultimate section of the walk, look out for public art as the route mirrors a section of The Line Sculpture Trail. 

Once into the Cody Wilds there is noticeable increase in wildlife, or more specifically birdlife, and a flourishing reed bed at the last turn before reaching Cody Dock. A decade ago the dock was filled with rubbish and had been neglected for years. Since then through volunteers and the drive of the Gasworks Dock Partnership it has become a creative community with the potential to completely revitalise this once forgotten corner of the River Lea. There is a cafe with outside seating and a lot to see so take time to look around all that Cody Dock is doing. From Cody Dock it is a short walk to Star Lane DLR station and services to Stratford or Canning Town.      

Maps of the walk are in two sections up to and from the Twelvetrees Crescent ramp.

Burano mono

Burano is usually a busy tourist ticket on any visit to Venice but my trip there last November was out of season. I arrived early in the morning when few others were around and it was cold and grey with a clearing mist. These mono images capture something of that atmosphere before the sun arrived bringing warmth and colour.      

Industrial colour

These photographs of the Olympic Park Energy Centre by John McAslan were made in early 2017 as part of a larger set that is now with the RIBA image library. I had photographed the building before under leaden grey skies so it was pleasing to see  the way the two main colours worked together in these images.  The industrial design, inspired by London’s great historic power stations such as Bankside and Battersea, and use of Corten steel makes this a fun building to photograph.

Barbican photo walks

Five images made over the last couple of years while planning and leading photo walks for Barbican Members. The walks encourage a discussion about the architecture and ways of seeing it whether through shadow and light, lines and perspective, size and scale and the sense of place. I’m delighted that the walks are continuing in 2020 and all the new dates will be posted on the photo walks page in the new year.

Autumn leaves

These light-table leaf images were created for a community outreach photography class that I’m currently teaching.  Each leaf comes from one of over 6000 trees that have been planted in the Olympic Park and include birch, elm, poplar, wild cherry and oak. Almost all the existing trees were removed during the demolition and land clearance for the Games but many of these tree species were then re-introduced to maintain local provenance. The Park landscape was shaped over a couple of years from 2010 during which these semi-mature trees arrived, so to speak, on the back of a lorry. 

Canada Water and Rotherhithe

A set of images prepared for the recent RIBA Friends walk and which architecturally mark some of the way from Canada Water to Rotherhithe.  I’ve yet to photograph the many converted warehouses which in many ways define the 19th century heritage of the area. Nelson House, which was listed in 1949, dates from the early 18th century and is London’s only surviving example of a type of Georgian property once common with prosperous ship-building owners.  


Over the summer I spent several days walking the perimeter of the Olympic Park looking at its boundaries. Ten years before a blue construction hoarding separated the land into an inside and outside.  These are a few of the images made that explore how photography can evoke, through traces and memory, what has otherwise gone from the landscape.  

Instone Wharf

London clay excavated from the Crossrail tunnels was removed by barge from Instone Wharf to Wallasea Island in Essex where it was used to create a nature reserve.  In future plans, the wharf becomes a terminus for a new ‘ecologically focussed’ Limmo Park, making accessible a large section of riverine landscape after the Crossrail compound at Canning Town closes.  These images are from the last bend in the River Lea landscape and are part of Walking the Leaway.  


I have a new set of photographs from circumnavigating Iceland in June.  If I had the chance to return I would go back to the West Fjords region for the dramatic landscapes and scenery.  But that aside I was mostly interested in the vernacular architecture of Icelandic housing and industrial buildings and some of these photographs will be added to RIBA image library.  

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