People On The Street & A Cat
Brick Lane 1966
“Sometimes there is no reason, but you have to do it and that’s what makes magical things happen.” photographer John Claridge said, introducing this set of pictures published here for the first time,“There is no why or wherefore of doing it, because it’s not from the head – it’s from the heart.”
I took John’s declaration as a description of his state of rapture as he wandered the pavements of the East End to take these photographs of people on the street, going about their daily lives.“I used to get up early and walk around,” he confided to me and I understood the sense of loneliness that haunts these evocative pictures, in which the subjects appear distant like spectres, self-absorbed and lost in thought.
“The important word is ‘request’” said John, speaking of the photo of the man at the request bus stop, “He’s in some kind of world that we are not party to.” In John’s youthful vision – enthralled by the writing of Franz Kafka – the East End street became an epic stage where an existential drama was enacted, peopled by characters journeying through a strange landscape of forbidding beauty.
John knew he was photographing a poor society within a poor environment, but he was a part of it and held great affection for it. “Just another day of people walking around,” he concluded to me with uneasy levity - emphasising that while these images are emblematic of a world which time may have rendered exotic, it is also world that was once commonplace to him.
E13, 1962 -”This was taken from my window at home.”
Spitalfields, 1962 - “They look like they are up to no good.”
Whitechapel, 1968 -”Where did the boy get that peaked cap?”
Spitalfields, 1961. -”An old man stops to light up.”
Spitalfields, 1961 - “A moment, a story in itself.”
Spitalfields, 1982 - “I walked past her and just grabbed the picture as I went by.”
Spitalfields, 1968 - “The dog is looking at the rubbish in exactly the same way as the man is looking at the rubbish.”
At the ’59 Club, 1973
Weavers’ Fields, 1959 An old lady walks across a bombsite in Bethnal Green.
E16, 1964 -“The important word is ‘request.’ He’s in some kind of world that we are not party to.”
E16, 1982 -”He’s going home to his dinner.”
Princelet St, 1962 - “Just a man and a pigeon.”
Spitalfields, 1968 -”I like the shadows, where they’re falling.”
Photographs copyright © John Claridge
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