Please Help Me To Publish A Beautiful Book Of Colin O’Brien’s London Life
Cover design by Friederike Huber
Over the winter, I have been collaborating with Contributing Photographer Colin O’Brien & Designer Friederike Huber to create a handsome hardback photographic monograph of Colin’s pictures entitled LONDON LIFE and now I am appealing to my readers to help us publish it in June.
Containing more than two hundred photographs arranged chronologically and selected from seven decades of work in the capital, LONDON LIFE is a social record of breathtaking expanse and I believe Colin OʼBrienʼs superlative photography – distinguished by its human sympathy and aesthetic flair – stands comparison with any of the masters of twentieth century British photography.
Since 1948, Colin has been photographing the life of Londoners, capturing dramatic and affectionate images which speak eloquently of change and continuity in the daily existence of the city and its people. Born in Clerkenwell in 1940, Colin was a photographic prodigy, graduating from taking pictures of his pals with a Box Brownie at eight years old to using a Leica in his teenage years and photographing the car crashes outside his window, at the junction of Clerkenwell Rd and Farringdon Rd.
In those days, Colin took his films down the Fleet St in person where his pictures often found their way into the pages of national newspapers and ever since he has pursued a personal photographic project of recording the drama of London life.
Out of hundreds of pictures, two stand out for me as milestones. One is Colin’s tender photograph of his mother taken in the fifties. In the picture, she is making tea in the scullery of Victoria Dwellings, the tenement where he grew up but which the family left when Finsbury Council rehoused them in the newly-built Michael Cliffe House. This early photograph witnesses another world to that of Colin’s recent portrait of Jasmine Stone and her little daughter, taken when they were evicted from a hostel in Newham last year and occupied an empty Council House as a protest against the disposal of social housing by the Local Authority.
At this current moment of unprecedented change, when much of the history of the capital is threatening with being erased by redevelopment, Colin O’Brien’s LONDON LIFE is an important book that grants us a necessary perspective in time, reminding us of the journey that we – as Londoners – travelled to get here.
As with our other titles, I need to gather a group of readers who are willing to invest £1000 each. Please email Spitalfieldslife@gmail.com if you would like to help bring this exciting project to fruition and I will send you further information.
Additionally, you can support publication by pre-ordering LONDON LIFE from the Spitalfields Life Online Bookshop and we will send you a signed copy in June with a complimentary copy of Colin’s previous book, TRAVELLERS’ CHILDREN IN LONDON FIELDS as a gesture of appreciation.
Colin’s mother makes tea in the scullery in Victoria Dwellings, Clerkenwell
Raymond Scallionne & Razi Tuffano, Hatton Garden in 1948
Daytime accident in Clerkenwell, 1957
Snow in Clerkenwell on New Year’s Eve, 1961
Piccadilly Circus at night, 1959
Colin’s mother tries on hats in Oxford St in the fifties
Playing on a bombsite in the City of London
Oxford St at Christmas
Safeway Supermarket in the sixties
Battersea with the power station in the distance, sixties
Kids skylarking in the seventies
Regents Canal, Hackney
Brick Lane Market, eighties
Ice Cream kids, eighties
On Chatsworth Rd, eighties
Diana Dead, nineties
Demolishing a tower block in Hackney, 1999
Baby at a fair in Victoria Park
The last day of Clerkenwell Fire Station, 2014
Speakers’ Corner, 2014
Spitalfields Nativity 2014
Jasmine Stone, Focus E15 Mothers, Newham 2014
Photographs copyright © Colin O’Brien
If you would like to help me publish LONDON LIFE, a monograph of Colin O’Brien’s photographs from 1948 until the present day, please drop me a line at Spitalfieldslife@gmail.com