On the Kingsland Rd
Brothers on the Kingsland Rd
In 2006, photographer James Pearson-Howes could not afford the rent in Shoreditch and so he moved to the Kingsland Rd, living in a tiny flat on the corner opposite where the new Haggerston Station is now. “Once I discovered the place and the people, I grew to love that road,” he admitted, “I can’t think of anywhere like it. There were Turks, Africans, White, Jewish – it was a hub of creativity and everybody got on.”
James discovered he had arrived at a time of change as major building work for the new East London Line commenced, promising a metamorphosis of this ancient thoroughfare following the line of Ermine St, the Roman road north from London through Spitalfields and across hunting grounds that were once the property of Henry VIII – the king referred to in the name Kingsland Rd.
“There was all this building work going on, so it was an instinctive response for me to record the transformation,” James recalled. “At that time, I made friends with Roy and we both shared a love of the road, so we met three times a week and walked up and down the road together. He told me the stories and I took the photographs.”
Ease and intimacy characterise these fluent images, taken by a photographer who has embedded themselves within the community they portray. And today, some of what is pictured has already gone – Lady Glitter and Pier One are no more – as Dalston changes from a scruffy neighbourhood where everyone can feel at home to live and let live, already becoming another fashionable destination where the rents go up and up and up.
“These were all shot on film. I always take my personal work using film, to trust what I’ve got.” James explained, revealing his preference for the discipline of analogue photography, “You shoot – then you wait and get your your photos back a few days later.” Yet there is a relaxed spontaneous quality shared by all James’ Kingsland Rd pictures, both reflecting his delight in the endeavour and speaking eloquently of the distinctive nature of the place portrayed. “I love street photography and I just wanted to get my teeth into it,” he confessed to me.
“This is my favourite image. A fashion shoot in Ridley Rd Market in front of a man selling fish.”
Ridley Rd Market, late afternoon.
“This gold shop in Dalston is still there.”
“These old boys always sit in the window of this cafe at Dalston Junction.”
Window shopping in Dalston.
Dog leaning out of a truck.
“This is String, a friend of Roy’s and the proprietor of Lady Glitter, a barber’s salon.”
At Lady Glitter.
String observes work on the new railway line and housing complex at the rear of Lady Glitter
The development nears completion.
“This lady always sat here.”
At “Manhattan” in Dalston, specialising in suits for African weddings.
At “Da Endz,” specialising in New Era hats.
“This girl wanted to show off her watch.”
“Gilbert & George eat dinner at Mangal in the Kingsland Rd every night. Gilbert takes a bus and George walks.”
“I liked this lady’s look with her earrings.”
Paloma Faith, rising pop star.
Jamie from the Klaxons at the laundrette.
Turkish bakers make yufka at Somine Restaurant.
“Sharma, a stylist, who has now opened her own nail bar – Wah Nails.”
“At Pier One, the club was painted all black with neons and day-glo, and they played predominantly Hip Hop and R’n'B.”
At Pier One.
A restaurant at the rear of a car wash.
“Halal grocery store by night, photographed from a passing bus.”
Sleeping by the Regent’s Canal.
Photographs copyright © James Pearson-Howes
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