Lost East End is a new photography exhibition featuring the work of Philip Cunningham. It offers an important glimpse into the past lives of working class people living in the East End of London.
This exhibition takes on a fondly nostalgic tone in its narrative. Cunningham grew up in the East End in the 1970s and photographed the people and places around him.
Cunningham documented his neighbours, friends, and everyday life in the East End. Some of the pictures seen here haven’t been exhibited for 50 years.
There’s loads of life and personality in each photo, and the sense of familiarity Cunningham would have felt towards the subjects of his photos comes across strongly. But as the title of the exhibition implies, there is a real sense of loss that comes across through as you walk around the exhibition.
East London has changed with time, so most of the things and people that Cunningham would have known growing up in the area are no longer there. This adds a bittersweet feel to the exhibition.
But, beyond Cunningham’s personal longing for the past, you get the impression from these photos of how much the area’s culture hasn’t changed as well.
The community represented in this exhibition is multicultural and intergenerational, which has remained the same.
Something especially important is the documentation of the struggle in the East End. The exhibition features photographs of young people from the community fighting to save the Kingsley Hall community centre, which is still there today.
It is noted in the description of the exhibition that access to photographic equipment was much rarer back in the 1970s compared to today.
Cunningham said that documenting working class lives in the way he did was not as common back then.
It’s clear just how valuable this series of photographs is as it documents the lives of people who would have been overlooked in their time. As a young person looking at these photos today, it is interesting to learn something new about the East End’s history of struggle.
As an activist in east London, it’s good to remember and draw strength from this legacy. And overall, I’d say that one key point to take away from this exhibition is the importance of documenting working class lives and remembering the struggles of the past.
As said by Cunningham, “To photograph is to record, to record is to document, and to document is to validate”.
Philip Cunningham’s Lost East End continues until 27 October at Oxford House Cafe, Bethnal Green, London E2 6HG
To mark the violent overthrow of the government of Salvador Allende by a military coup in 1973, the Four Corners centre for film and art is holding a special exhibition
Chile 50 explores how political art was used to sustain solidarity in the face of incarceration, torture and exile.
Part of the exhibition will be the re-stage of Peter Kennard’s 1978 show, A Document on Chile.
It will also include patchwork sewn by women during the Pinochet dictatorship and photographs taken by Chilean photographers of the revolt in 2019.
The exhibition runs from:
12- 23 September at
Four Corners gallery
121 Roman Rd, London E2 0QN.
For more information, go to tinyurl.com/Chile4corners
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