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Markéta Luskačová’s Street Musicians

October 26, 2016
by the gentle author

Markéta Luskačová has been taking photographs in Spitalfields since 1975 and it is my great pleasure to present this selection of East End pictures from her new book, TO REMEMBER – London Street Musicians 1975-1990 which has an introduction by John Berger and is published next week with a launch and signing at Camden Arts Centre on Wednesday 2nd November from 7:30pm. All are welcome.

Brick Lane, 1978

Bishopsgate, 1980

Commercial St outside Christ Church, 1979

‘The first street musician I ever met was at the horse fair in the West of Ireland on a cold autumn day in 1973 – an old man playing a violin between the horses. It was like an epiphany. A few years later I started to live in London close to Portobello Rd Market. Street musicians played there frequently and the feeling of being in the presence of something precious stayed with me. The street musicians themselves were often quite lonely men, yet their music lessened the loneliness of the street, the people in it and my own loneliness.’ Markéta Luskačová

Commercial St outside Christ Church, 1987

Cheshire St, 1990

Cheshire St, 1982

Yard off Cheshire St, 1986

‘It takes me back eighty years to my childhood (in the thirties), when I was disturbed and spellbound by the street musicians I passed and stopped to listen to and watch. The word play had a double-sense for me. They played instruments or they sang in the street in the hope of getting money, survival money, from the passersby. And I played games in order to escape and feel that I was elsewhere.’ John Berger

Cheshire St, 1979

Cheshire St, 1976

Cheshire St, 1979

Cheshire St, 1979

Cheshire St, 1979

Photographs copyright © Markéta Luskačová

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Markéta Luskačová’s Brick Lane

20 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    October 26, 2016

    Thank you once again for giving us a glimpse of a lost world taken through the eyes of a genius….I’m blown away .

  2. Ros permalink
    October 26, 2016

    Wonderful faces! Wonderful interaction! How different London is now. Thank you Marketa for capturing and preserving these memories.

  3. October 26, 2016

    Oh they are wonderful – how very precious.
    Music is an extraordinary thing and look at it being transcendent

  4. October 26, 2016

    Still plenty of great street musicians around!

  5. Pritam Singh permalink
    October 26, 2016

    The photographs are outstanding.

  6. October 26, 2016

    Is it the same gentleman in the last few photographs on the accordion and the novelty string instruments?
    While there are many buskers in the towns and cities today, they have a different air about them (vibe?) than the gentleman photographed here. I wonder what they sounded like?

  7. Eddie Johnson permalink
    October 26, 2016

    Again, lovely pictures. Does anyone remember the ‘Happy Wanderers’ a crowd of raggedy men who played from the East end to the West end like a marching band their music resounding through the air, they were a poor but inspiring sight.

  8. October 26, 2016

    The street musician Commercial St 1979 says everything about the struggle to survive. I would like to see this photo widely displayed.

  9. Sue permalink
    October 26, 2016

    Wonderful pictures. They seem like a lifetime away but only thirty years or so seems like yesterday to me.
    I remember seeing the Happy Wanderers as a child when we went to the West End at Christmas.

  10. Tim permalink
    October 26, 2016

    Fantastic pictures. Magic, real art. Why are these images so moving?

  11. Richard white permalink
    October 26, 2016

    What happened to all the old men of London.

  12. October 26, 2016

    You built to a wonderful crescendo here……The final photo of the unique one-of-a-kind “embellished” musical instrument made me applaud. (yes, right here in my jammies,
    pre-dawn) I would give almost anything to know the who/what/why of that photo-emblazoned
    gizmo. (who are the men depicted on the cards? – these appear to be cigarette cards of People of Note. Yes? No? )
    I so enjoyed this series, looking through it several times, and making up my own soundtrack.
    The enveloping city sounds, the cackling laughter of the kids, the passing vehicles, sidewalk
    scuffles and “comin’ throughs”…..and then the final grace note to the whole scene…….music.
    Play on, sir, play on.

  13. October 26, 2016

    Lovely work from Marketa, one of the most committed street photographers working today. So pleased to see it here and can’t wait to get a copy of the book!

  14. Rose permalink
    October 26, 2016

    So charming and richly simple. I loved these. Thank you for posting.

  15. October 26, 2016

    Oh wow! An unexpected treat, GA. I LOVE Marketa’s work… and have one of her prints beside me as I write. Lovely responses from all readers – and I, too, am a candidate for the new book 🙂

  16. October 27, 2016

    Wonderful blog once more evoking memories of my childhood and youth as a young woman. I’m sure I remember some of these street musicians. My mum used to take me to Petticoat Lane as a kid, then as a teenager I went there to find bargains and get bagels. I hope those musicians shown got enough money for a cup of tea and a packet of fags, at the very least.

  17. October 27, 2016

    Incredible images. They ooze history, culture and humour.

  18. October 28, 2016

    I’ve shared this posting with several kindred artists and writers here in the US. Everyone has been captivated and are interested in purchasing the book. When the time is right, can you please post
    information about ordering?
    To add to that, I just received my copy of Alice Pattullo’s “An Animal ABC” via Amazon, and it is
    absolutely sensational!
    Thanks for introducing us to such varied and gifted artists.

  19. Shawdian permalink
    November 9, 2016

    A bit too depressing for me. These poor men happy to play their musical hearts away,
    look like they have all lived very hard lives. God Bless them all. They gave us what they
    held close too their warn hearts, their wonderful music. These photographs show reality.

  20. March 4, 2019

    invite street musicians for party , evenings , some kind of relax meeting with modest food and modest payment then their life can be a bit more lighte . would you mind ?

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