This three-volume work by English photographer David Bailey is one of the best books of the year. East End, published this summer by Steidl, gathers 620 photographs taken by Bailey in this working-class district of London. Bailey watched the East End grow from the 1960s to the 2000s. This proximity is on display in the first volume, dedicated to David’s mother, Catherine, which features scenes of intimacy, parties, street life, and countless black-and-white and color portraits of family and strangers from the photographer’s youth. Readers are invited to lose themselves in the daily lives of workers, longshoremen, shops, markets, boxing rings and pubs.
“The cockneys should have listened, but they didn’t,” says Bailey. “They went east like their ancestors before them. The ones that moved east out of ‘Old Nichol’ went to Whitechapel, then onto Stepney and Bow, then to what is now called Newham and later to Barking, Dagenham and onto Essex. My mother was from Bow, my father it seems was from Hackney, my grandfather from Bethnal Green. Before him they all were from Whitechapel as far as records show.”
Later, when Bailey grew up to be a talented fashion photographer, he brought his beautiful models to the banks of the Thames, between the warehouses and ships, and had them pose on boats, docks and against the red brick of the surrounding buildings. These pictures are reminiscent of his contemporary, Williams Klein, who shot his models on the raw asphalt streets of New York. The book juxtaposes the portraits of these women with depressing scenes of East End architecture: countless dilapidated houses, gates and failing businesses, capturing a time in the history of the district.
Photographs by David Bailey
464 Pages / 620 photographs
€ 98.00 incl. VAT