John Gay, photographer
This remarkable picture taken by John Gay (1909-1999) shows Club Row Market in the sixties, looking south across the Bethnal Green Road towards Sclater Street. Still recognisable today, except the Bishopsgate Goods Station has now been replaced by the new Shoreditch Station.
From the late forties through to the early sixties, Gay took hundreds of pictures in our neighbourhood which you can find among more than twenty six thousand of his photographs spanning a career of sixty years, all archived on the English Heritage website. However, I recommend you go the Guildhall Art Gallery where there is currently a retrospective exhibition to celebrate the centenary of his birth, until 18th October. Here you can see a wide selection of John Gay’s photographic prints. I was fascinated to see how he started as a papercut artist and then transferred his graphic sensibility into photography. It is a beautiful selection of pictures and, to me, all of his work demonstrates a bold and humane modernity that remains fresh and charismatic today.
This evocative picture below from the late forties shows a winter’s day in Frostic Place where King Edward’s Potatoes are for sale alongside herring straight from the barrel.