Success for East End Archive

Books featuring work by renowned photographers move quickly to the second edition, and project to feature on BBC Radio London.

A box-set and series of individual books focusing on The East End Archive at London Metropolitan University, published by Café Royal Books, have sold out. Second editions of some of the individual publications have recently been released, with the titles amended to reflect the new name of the School of Art, Architecture and Design. Following this success, Tom Hunter, one of the photographers included in the series will be interviewed about his work and about the East End Archive by Robert Elms on BBC Radio London, on 22 January.

The box-set, which was released in March 2020 during the first COVID-19 lockdown, comprises of four books made for what was then The East End Archive at The Cass, with each book representing work made in London’s East End during the 1970s and 1980s by the renowned photographers Tom Hunter, Brian Griffin, Diane Bush and Mike Seaborne. The majority of this work has never been published before with the exception of Brian Griffin’s, for which it is the first time within a documentary context. Each book has been edited specifically for the box-set publication, which is a special collaboration between Café Royal Books and the East End Archive, both of which have a similar ethos regarding the cultural importance of the preservation and dissemination of British Documentary Photography.

Each photographer has taken a distinctive and personal approach to the area: Tom Hunter’s Down the Lane dates from a time, now disappeared and prior to his professional career, when he had a stall at Brick Lane Market and photographed the passers-by; Diane Bush’s work in the old East End was made whilst working with EXIT, Britain’s first photography collective, which believed in the power of photography to contribute to positive social change; Mike Seaborne’s work at London’s Docklands represents huge social and economic changes in the area and is defined by a vanished post-industrial landscape; and a decade later in the 1980s, Brian Griffin’s work also comments on massive economic shifts but this time in the City of London where borders were re-drawn as the City spread with the deregulation of the financial markets.

About The East End Archive:

The East End Archive is an online and digital photographic resource which develops collaborative ventures with other community groups, public bodies and research projects that have a common interest. The Archive collects the work of photographers whose practice is concerned with the East End of London and its diaspora, where the East End is understood as an ever-changing frontier within the urban sprawl that is part imagined and part tangible. The Archive holds only “bodies of work” in order to understand more fully the working methodology of the photographers, and to give context to the work. In fact, this is an archive for the future, which brings together not only historic bodies of work but contemporary collections from photographers currently working in the field in order to record current rather than retrospective ideologies. The work collected ranges from traditional documentary to works of the imagination in order to reflect the East End- a place where dreams, dissent and transformation co-exist. 

About Café Royal Books:

Café Royal Books is a publisher of limited edition photographic titles focussing on British documentary photography. Founded by Craig Atkinson in 2005, Café Royal Books aims to create a focussed and complete archive of British documentary photography. Publishing roughly 70 titles each year with a small edition ‘archive box’ every 100th title. These archive boxes are aimed at major collections, libraries and museums — helping to increase the visibility of the work and making the books publicly accessible for as long as possible. Collectors are wide and varied but include, MoMA NY, Harvard University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, The British Library, The Hyman Collection, Martin Parr Foundation, TATE, V&A / National Art Library. Publications are affordable, democratic, utilitarian and useful, without fuss or decoration, the images, history and the cultural archive are the focus.

Michael Upton, who represents the East End Archive on the University Special Collections and Archives Strategy Committee said, “It is wonderful that these publications have proven so popular, especially as the pandemic denied them the launch event and exhibition we had planned. We are discussing plans for the next exciting developments with The East End Archive with Susan Andrews, Emeritus Reader who leads the project and research colleagues in the school.”

Tom Hunter will be interviewed by Robert Elms on BBC Radio London, on Friday 22 January at around 10.40am

Originally published by London Metropolitan University