HIGHGATE

one box room at the end of a ground floor corridor.

facing a darkened hallway and the entrance to the busy street outside.



noisy.

dirty.



threatening


lonely.




changes & upheavals:


I got a ground floor flat in Highgate. located in an anonymous space somehow squeezed inside a row of shops.

on the other side of the road was a pavement leading to the tube station entrance.

a shared kitchen upstairs.
a shared bathroom upstairs.


I had a neighbour next door (and downstairs) who worked late in a record store and liked loud music. and upstairs a corrupt council manager and his unemployed poet girlfriend. 

there was a busy restaurant next door. a partition wall the only barrier preventing me from feeling as if I was living and working in their kitchen.

I went to sleep with headphones attached to my Walkman every night. I was trying to drown out the noise and soothe myself to sleep.

I was living at the top of a hill leading all the way down to the Holloway Road.

“this was the closest I’d ever get to living in central London ”

but even here, away from the intensity below, just achieving sanity was hard.

I’d never experienced this noise assualt before. the onslaught on my senses was constant and deeply felt. 

one night I snapped and went into the busy restaurant next door wrapped in a dressing gown and told them all to keep the noise down.
I was just trying to sleep.

at the time I was on a Community Program scheme working in a  photo archive - which was housed inside an abandoned substation.

life was made a little easier by getting a London Transport staff pass while I was working there.

I could travel anywhere on the transport network, I just couldn’t buy anything when I got there.

had I just graduated to the real world? 


all the time I was living here, I felt I was fading into the background, dwarfed by London. feeling constantly worthless and with a dark cloud hanging over every action & thought

“photography provided an outlet for my state of mind.”

since I left College I didn’t show my work to anyone.

I’d learnt not to.

“it was a private passion”

friends I’d met knew I had  cameras. I carried them with me most of the time.

but there was always the overwhelming question of what kind of photographer I was and what the reaction would be. 

Fish or Foul?

Documentary or Art? 


Commercial?

waste of time?

“but what are they meant to be about?”

the pictures I was making took the form of a continuous free-form essay.

free of a commercial rationale I could explore recurring themes, obsessions, and motifs in the spaces around me.

some lingering traces of influences from my time as a student remained but the darkness & depression I was experiencing made making sense of what I was doing difficult.

I was being led to places by instinct, mostly unconscious of any sense of danger.

here I was living in London, in one of the most overcrowded markets in the world for photography. but what could I offer?

what skills did I have to show?

I reasoned I was creative but not commercial.

I knew I had to make difficult choices. do other kinds of jobs to make money. 

after achieving so much at Portsmouth, it was painful to have to consider my options were leading me elsewhere.

the constant feeling of failure was overwhelming and continuous

I couldn’t rest. all the time my mind was shouting out

FUCK OFF & LEAVE ME ALONE