East End Atmosphere

Canary-Wharf-L1230077©Geoff Wilkinson

Geoff Wilkinson will be reopening his photography gallery in Wanstead this month, with new images added to his exhibition depicting the atmosphere of London’s East End, an area which resonates with many residents here

For the last four years, I have been wandering through London’s East End photographing streets, open spaces and buildings, in fact, anything that looks likely to change or disappear.

However, development happens, sometimes at an alarming speed, and sometimes it’s very dramatic. The one constant during this time has been the river. Following the Thames east from Tower Bridge leads you past old warehouses, where barges and ships unloaded goods from all over the world. Now, most are converted into smart apartments.

As the river follows the bend past Limehouse, one of the most dramatic developments opens up before you, Canary Wharf, so named because fruit from the Canary Islands was originally unloaded there. Building was completed in 1992, but still today it is expanding. When you come across it at night, it’s difficult not to be impressed; it may not be to everybody’s taste, but you can’t deny it’s a statement to change. Next door on West India Quay, 200-year-old warehouses still exist, housing the Museum of London, restaurants and bars. The exteriors of warehouses built in 1802 have survived to a large degree, a good example of how original buildings can be converted and maintain their fabric.

I am still going to spend nights seeking out the unchanged parts of the City and East End, capturing the atmosphere while it still exists.

This month, when we reopen the gallery, I will be adding new pictures to the photographs on display. The images will bring back memories for older visitors who grew up in the East End, and for the younger ones who lived in apartments there and who now have families and have moved further out. The more I explore, the more I discover hidden pockets that still exist. It’s just a matter of looking.

Geoff’s Eightyfour Gallery is located at 84 Nightingale Lane, Wanstead, E11 2EZ. For more information, call 020 8530 1244 or visit wnstd.com/84