Our guest speaker was Mike Seaborne, and from his long career in photography and museum curating, he chose to share with us his current project. He calls it ‘interpretative re-photographing’. That is, he is working through his archive of black and white images taken around London from the 1980s and attempting to takea new shot from the same angle and standpoint to show the changes, not just as a documentary record, but to comment on those changes. For instance, his before and after photographs of the Olympic Park site mourn the transition of a wild and undeveloped area of land into a more regimented and soulless park area. His pairs of images were a good sociological record too, of changes in dress, vehicles, street furniture and the character of local areas. Mike’s impressive and extensive knowledge of London and its history provided a fascinating background to his images.
Mike’s presentation was a very personal interpretation of the changes he has seen through his life in London and it gave us a wonderful glimpse of recent history and of sights and scenes which have disappeared for ever. We ran out of time before we could discuss the issues raised by using the power of photography in illustrating a particular viewpoint - presumably some people would embrace the changes for all sorts of reasons and could present pairs of before and after images to prove their point. Mike has promised to come back and continue the discussion and show us more of his work and we will look forward to that.