Kingston Museum Finds Another London

By Siba Matti | 16 February 2007
photo shows st georges day celebrations

St George's Day celebrations. Photo: Paul Baldesare. Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

The capital is often represented by the West End: fast paced city life and shoppers on the streets, but residents of London’s leafy suburbs will know this image is only one part of a very multi-faceted city, and their lives are the theme of a new exhibition at Kingston Museum.

photo show caribbean carnival in kingston

A Caribbean carnival in the suburbs. Photo: Peter Marshall. Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

Another London, which runs until 3 March 2007, showcases the work of three local photographers who wish to delve a little deeper into suburbia and its history, culture and traditions.

Once deemed by writers as “an aesthetic desert, a society hemmed in by net curtains,” Kingston Museum suggests that suburbia has evolved into “a mature and prosperous entity away from the social and environmental pressures of the inner city,” and thus the work of Paul Baldesare, Peter Marshall and Mike Seaborne aims to show the more diverse and exciting aspects of what has become Greater London.

Peter Marshall, who has been photographing London since 1970, has been working for many years to create a growing story about the capital and his experiences of living there.

photo shows police and protestors at pro palestinian march

This image of a march in support of Palestine is typical of Peter Marshall's London diary, which covers many of the protests and celebrations on the streets of the capital. Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

Entitled My London Diary, Marshall’s collection portrays the suburbs as a multicultural melting pot; the Hackney Mardi Gras, Carnival del Pueblo in Bermondsey and Kingston Carnival show flamboyant local events infused with colour, and happy families enjoying a day out can be observed at the Kingston Regatta and Surbiton Festivals.

By contrast, snapshots of social occasions are the focus of Paul Baldesare’s work. Teenagers are depicted enjoying cigarettes, beer and music at 18th birthday parties, while a multitude of red crosses and flags represent the passion and patriotism suburban residents have for their country on St George’s Day and various England football matches.

Another striking image of a family celebrating Chinese New Year highlights how suburbia has evolved by embracing cultures that were once only associated with the inner boroughs of London.

photo shows korean girl watching world cup with bated breath

A Korean girl watches the World Cup. Photo: Paul Baldesare. Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

Baldesare, who has been photographing London for more than 20 years, and intends this project to be part of a social and historical record of contemporary suburban London, said of the work:

“These pictures show the unguarded and fragmented moments when the ‘ordinary’ suddenly changes tempo and direction for a fraction of a second, chipping away the veneer of the ordinary and revealing a world infinitely more interesting.”

photo shows panorama of shopping street

Surbiton. Photo: Mike Seaborne. Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

The third and final installment in the exhibition focuses on a defining characteristic of greater London – the high street.

Mike Seaborne, Senior Curator of Photography at the Museum of London, presents a panoramic view of what has become a British institution, and explores its transformation throughout the decades.

More than the quintessential butchers, bakers and iron mongers, Seaborne’s collection of black and white images show how new cultures have permeated London’s streets.

Al Amirat, a Mediterranean foods and Halal meat store stands proudly on Willesden High Street, while advertising for Asahi, a popular Japanese beer, can be found on the Shoreditch equivalent.

An interesting shot juxtaposing contemporary and aged architecture on Roman Road, Bethnal Green, is also worth a look.

Not to be missed, this small but fascinating exhibition offers new insight into our ever-changing and evolving capital, and highlights the significant role that suburbia has played in shaping London’s identity.

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