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John Gay, photographer

September 30, 2009
by the gentle author


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 Still recognisable today, except the Bishopsgate Goods Station has now been replaced by the new Shoreditch Station.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.


4 Responses leave one →
  1. September 30, 2009

    Must get over there to see it. Great street photography

  2. your new acquaintance permalink
    September 30, 2009

    Mo, you might like to know that the exhibition at the Guildhall is free on Fridays and each day after 3:30pm.

  3. Henry permalink
    October 5, 2009

    Really enjoying your blog. It’s helping me to observe what I frequently overlook. I look forward to seeing you reach your post target.

  4. November 10, 2009

    Superb photograph. I must track him down on the English Heritage site. Thanks for introducing him.

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