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Tif Hunter’s Maltby St Portraits (Part Two)

May 14, 2012
by the gentle author

Steve Benbow, London Honey Company

Once upon a time, Steve Benbow, the urban beekeeper, sold honey from the back of an old Morris Traveller in Brushfield St at the entrance to the Spitalfields Market. You may recall when Steve was first introduced in these pages, seeking homes for bees, and then – through the intervention of one of our readers – he was granted the roof of the Tate Gallery to keep his hives. These days, Steve has a railway arch in Maltby St, Bermondsey, and it was here that Tif Hunter took this portrait as part of his series recording the community of those who have created this flourishing endeavour, selling honestly produced food and drawing customers from across the London every Saturday morning.

Yet even as Tif completed his set of portraits, other railway arches opened up just a little further down the line at Spa Terminus, and some of the traders from Maltby St transferred to these larger spaces while new companies moved into those which had been vacated – confirming the contingent  nature of all markets, endlessly shifting and evolving as street commerce ebbs and flows in the city.

Taken with a 5×4 nineteenth-century-style camera using just a single exposure for each portrait, Tif’s pictures are remarkable for their spontaneity, emphasising the ephemeral quality of the image. But when he set out to take these luminous photographs, he did not realise that Maltby St itself would change so quickly, granting them an extra level of transient poetry. Fortuitously, Tif Hunter’s set of portraits exists now as the record of a critical moment at Maltby St – the time before this current metamorphosis began.

Philip – Jacob’s Ladder Farms

Lucie – The Ham & Cheese Company

Archie – Coleman Coffee Roasters

Kitty – La Grotta Ices

Roy – Neal’s Yard Dairy

Paul – Tayshaw Limited

Flori – Monmouth Coffee Company

Archie – The Ham & Cheese Company

Claire – Violet Bakery

Roberto – Monmouth Coffee Company

Alaena – Kase Swiss

Harry – 40 Maltby St

Barbara – Kernel Brewery

Harry – Fern Verrow

Georgia – St John Bakery

Tristan – Fern Verrow

Lucy – St John Bakery

Nathan – The Butchery Ltd

Tania – Kernel Brewery

Photographs copyright © Tif Hunter

You may also like to see

Tif Hunter’s Maltby St Portraits (Part One)

and  read about

Steve Benbow, Beekeeper at Tate Modern

3 Responses leave one →
  1. andrea permalink
    May 14, 2012

    These portraits give me a satisfyingly rich photographic feeling. And all the subjects look so beautiful (indeed, luminous). Thank you.

  2. August 18, 2012

    Tif, we met this morning outside Jane’s….. these are truly gorgeous shots.
    Sure, that’s real photography. Let me know when the exhibition is on:)

  3. September 26, 2012

    Thanks for your kind comments Tina. The show is opening on Saturday 20th October at Bermondsey Studio and goes on for a fortnight. It was great nattering outside Jane’s and I apologise for taking such an age to see this and get back to you

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