After living in Wanstead for over 20 years it seemed entirely appropriate to hold my first travel photography exhibition in my hometown. My work as the Chief Political Photographer at the Press Association has taken me to every corner of the world with four successive Prime Ministers, so alongside the hectic schedules and highly stage managed political engagements I have always tried to escape the ‘bubble’ and photograph local daily life in between the endless press conferences and photo ops.
Among the many places I’ve travelled to, the colour and diversity of Japan and India have always caught my imagination and so I’ve chosen fifty of my favourite photographs that I’ve shot over recent visits to be the subject of a month-long exhibition at Geoff Wilkinson’s Eightyfour gallery on Nightingale Lane from March 25. I find the people from both cultures are friendly, polite and welcoming yet incredibly different in so many ways and I’ve tried to reflect this in the exhibition.
The pictures, taken over several years, are candid street scenes of everyday life in two very contrasting countries; one being a huge developing and eclectic nation, the other, possibly the most advanced and civilised country in the world. The ‘East meets East’ exhibition displays a small comparative example of these cultures.
As I mark my 30th year as a press photographer, travel photography has allowed me to renew my enthusiasm for photojournalism.
The exhibition starts on Sunday at eightyfour, the photography gallery at 84 Nightingale Lane.
A community project which aims to create a “multi-garden nature reserve” in the heart of Wanstead is being launched this week in an attempt to help compensate for loss of green space.
Wild Wanstead is encouraging residents to add their own gardens, balconies or outdoor space to a “jigsaw nature reserve” by adding pollinator-friendly flowers and other small changes such as building log piles.
Organiser Susie Knox said: “The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and many birds, insects and other creatures are in a period of sharp decline. London’s gardens make up nearly a quarter of the capital’s area and play a vital role as a home for wildlife. But like other parts of the city, gardens in Wanstead are getting squeezed as room is needed for parking, patios and extensions. Actively using the space that’s left to help wildlife can make a big difference.”
Several local green spaces have already got involved in Wild Wanstead including St. Mary’s Churchyard and the Corner House garden. Acting together to improve wildlife habitats in built-up areas of Wanstead will help nurture a vital green corridor linking the Flats, Wanstead Park, Epping Forest and the River Roding, Susie says, so that “birds, insects and other creatures can thrive on our doorsteps”.
The much-vaunted swimming pool for Wanstead is to go ahead, Redbridge Council has announced, along with a multi-million pound revamp for Wanstead High School which will include a new gym, classrooms, dining and changing area.
Work will begin in the Autumn, the council says. Proposals for the schemes will be presented to the council’s cabinet followed by a planning application. They are going to be funded from the council’s capital investment funds, and there will be a bid to Sports England to help.
Though there has been scepticism that the sums could add up, the council has restated its intention that the swimming pool and gym will be “cost neutral in the longer term when balanced with admission fees”.
The head of Wanstead High, Bob Hamlyn, issued a statement saying: “We are delighted that Redbridge has plans to make much needed improvements to Wanstead High School’s facilities. This proposed investment will go a long way to making sure we can continue to deliver first class education to the young people in this area”.
Behold the fruits of an appeal by the team at the Manor House for blankets and clothing for those in need during cold weather. The appeal was shared on social media, and this is some of what was donated.
Paul from the Manor House said the response had been “UNBELIEVABLE… if we’re honest, we’re speechless. What the people of Wanstead and community have done is amazing.”
Congratulations to Waltham Forest for being chosen as the first London borough of culture – a new scheme organised by the Mayor of London to make cultural investments in a particular borough.
And commiserations to Redbridge which was not successful in its bid, despite assembling a coalition of arts bodies from across the borough to back its case.
The Wanstead Fringe was one of the organisations backing the bid – but it won’t be deterred. The Fringe will be back in September – from 8-15 September. Planning is starting soon – watch this space for details and if you want to get in touch with Fringe organisers you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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