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Conditions Of Living

July 1, 2023
by the gentle author

A new exhibition CONDITIONS OF LIVING, at Four Corners until 2nd September, explores how photographers have represented housing and homelessness in East London over the last century.

Spitalfields Gardens by Jack London, 1902, courtesy of Huntington Library

A family in a  tenement house in Lisburn St, Bethnal Green, by an unknown photographer, 1923, courtesy of Getty Images

‘These are the dwellings’ by Humphrey Spender, 1938, courtesy of Getty Images

‘Leaving Town’ by Bert Hardy 1940, courtesy of Getty Images

Sewing in Mickey’s Shelter, an improvised air-raid shelter under the Fruit & Wool Exchange in Spitalfields, 1941, by Bert Hardy, courtesy of Getty Images

New Houses in Poplar by Monty Meth, 1951, courtesy of Getty Images

Pauline Rump and her younger sister reflected, Rothschild Dwellings by Nick Hedges, 1969

Sylvia in Tenterground, Spitalfields, by Moyra Peralta 1970s

Bromley St, Stepney, by Andrew Scott, 1975

Mrs Baldwin, Charles Dickens House, Mansford St Estate, Bethnal Green, Tom Learmonth, 1978

Father and son protest against Liberal Democrat housing policy by Lloyd Gee, 1990s

Eviction in Hackney by Brian Harris, 1991

‘Conditions of Living,’ poor doors for social housing but a lobby for private flats, New Holland Estate, Commercial St, by Anthony Luvera, 2023

© All photos copyright of individual photographers or photo libraries as specified

You may also like to take a look at

Moyra Peralta’s Spitalfields

Bill Brandt, Photographer

Andrew Scott’s East End

Monty Meth, Journalist & Photographer

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Philip Mernick permalink
    July 1, 2023

    The Jack London picture is described as “Spitalfields Gardens” but where is it actually? I don’t think there was a park with a lake in Spitalfields and the houses seem too close for it to be Victoria Park. Maybe it is the park that was near Stepney Way and is now covered by the London Hospital.

  2. the gentle author permalink*
    July 1, 2023

    Christ Church, Spitalfields, is just visible in the background, so it is the churchyard and there must have been a duck pond once..

  3. July 1, 2023

    Some are absolutely heart-rending.

  4. Mark permalink
    July 1, 2023

    Excellent pictures, not a duff’un amongst them, several quiet poignant.

  5. Maggie permalink
    July 2, 2023

    Gosh! These photographs are so emotive. Each tells a story.

  6. Cherub permalink
    July 2, 2023

    I have seen the second photo a number of times (it’s been in a number of books I have read on poverty over the years). I always hope the family in it were able to move to better housing and a better life. My Scottish grandparents were from small mining and fishing villages, they brought up a family of 9 in one of those old houses that had box beds in the main room and a blackleaded hob grate for heating and cooking.

  7. Neil Clements permalink
    July 5, 2023

    Re the second photo, of the family in LISBON STREET BUILDINGS. My grandparents lived in these flats for some years and my mother was born there in 1928. I think the flats were demolished in the late 1930’s. They were situated behind the Blind Beggar and a Sainsbury’s supermarket was on the site the last time I was there. I may be mistaken but I think the Whitechapel station on the new Elizabethan Line may have replaced the supermarket. Thank you, GA, for the wonderful Spitalfields Life.

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