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Phil Maxwell on Wentworth St

April 13, 2013
by the gentle author

Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer Phil Maxwell is taking street photography back to the street – a vast wall of his photographs has been installed on Wentworth St and will be there for the next two years while a new housing development is constructed. Transforming the street, these enormous blow-ups of Phil’s pictures bring new life to this neglected location that is still home to the legendary Petticoat Lane Market and was once celebrated as the teeming focus of life for the Jewish community in the East End.

“Originally, we proposed putting up photocopies of my pictures, pasted up like flyposters, but after six months we heard they were going to do it to a high specification, like advertising hoardings.” Phil admitted to me, revealing the modest origins of his grand project.

All the pictures were taken in the neighbourhood over the last thirty years and include some of Phil’s most familiar images, reproduced larger than life. “The photographs I have shown are ones that  have become friends to me over the years and I feel I know the people themselves, so it looks to me as if I have got all my pals here.” said Phil,“I think it’s good to see photographs of ordinary people on the street when we are so used to seeing pictures of celebrities and movie stars on billboards. Mike Myers, who is featured in one of my pictures, was born nearby in Goulston St and he says ‘If anyone wants my autograph, I’ll give it to them.'”

Offering a visual echo of the recent past, Phil’s pictures bring a soulful presence to the street, creating an interesting dynamic with the present tense of Wentworth St and inspiring him to take photographs of his own photographs in situ. “I like the empty market stalls, they frame my pictures beautifully, and there’s a synergy between people walking past and the photographs themselves.” he observed, ” And it looks good at night too, because they light them after dark – so it is as if friendly ghosts from the neighbourhood are occupying the street and it gives Wentworth St a special magic.”

Cheshire St 1985

Wentworth St 2013

Commercial St 1985

Brick Lane 1999

Wentworth St 2013

Brick Lane 1983

Holland Estate 1984

Whitechapel 1985

Wentworth St 2013

Middlesex St 1985

Brick Lane 1983

Commercial Rd 1999

Cheshire St 1988

Cheshire St 1984

Spitalfields Market 1997

Whitechapek Rd 1985

Spitalfields Market 1991

Brick Lane 1983

Photographs copyright © Phil Maxwell

Phil Maxwell’s installation was created with the support of East End Homes & Telford Homes

These pictures are featured in the new film EAST ONE by Phil Maxwell & Hazuan Hashim premiered at the East End Film Festival 2013

Follow Phil Maxwell’s blog Playground of an East End Photographer

See more of Phil Maxwell’s work here

Phil Maxwell’s Brick Lane

The Cat Lady of Spitalfields

Phil Maxwell’s Kids on the Street

Phil Maxwell, Photographer

Phil Maxwell & Sandra Esqulant, Photographer & Muse

Phil Maxwell’s Old Ladies

More of Phil Maxwell’s Old Ladies

Phil Maxwell’s Old Ladies in Colour

Phil Maxwell on the Tube

Phil Maxwell at the Spitalfields Market

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Libby Hall permalink
    April 13, 2013

    Street photographs of the installed street photographs: magic!

    And then those photographs could be installed.

    It could go on and on, like mirrors reflecting themselves, into an all-embracing urban eternity.

  2. Vicky permalink
    April 13, 2013

    I walked past these yesterday, very impressive!

  3. April 13, 2013

    Great Stuff!!!

  4. abdul jehadi permalink
    November 6, 2013

    Hi, My name is Abdul, firstly i wuould like to Thank you very much for taking photograph of my late father mr Abdur Rahim, it was great to see his picture on Petticoat Lane.

    the bengali gentleman with the white hat and jacket, taken at briclane 1982.

    i would like to request if possible to have the bill Board when they take it off.
    please call me when its convinient for you.

    thanks again

    A M Jehadi

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