"It's as if the camera is always unseen as people go about the private dramas of their lives. But they are always framed against their landscape, suggesting it is intertwined with who they are." Eastern Eye

 

Brick Lane (1982-2003) @ the Brick House photographs by Phil Maxwell

(10th March - 6th April 2003 ; Seven days a week 11am - 6pm) The Brick House, The Old Truman Brewery Brick Lane, London E1

Curator: Hazuan Hashim

Photojournalist Phil Maxwell has been photographing Brick Lane and the surrounding area for the past twenty years. During this time the area has undergone unprecedented economic and social change. Phil's huge archive of photographs is a unique collection that maps the change that has occurred over the years. Commercial pressure from the City, gentrification and an influx of new businesses has changed Brick Lane particularly during the past 10 years. Brick Lane was once characterised by a strong sense of community as well as political turmoil, condemned buildings, blight and poverty. Today it is now the trendy and chic place to be. The 're-branding' of Brick Lane hides the richness of its previous history.

 

Fortunately Phil's archive reclaims past decades and puts recent developments into a historical, social and economic context. As well as being a major retrospective, Brick Lane will also incisively examine the contemporary Lane with wit and critical affection. As a local resident who has lived in Old Montague Street (which intersects the Lane) for over twenty years, Phil is probably better placed than anyone to chart the change that has occurred. Commenting on his recent exhibition 'Streetwise' What's On in London noted:

"The pace of change in Spitalfields is so rapid that it's almost impossible to keep up. 'Regeneration' is the latest buzzword and in recent years trendy bars, designer shops and expensive loft living have muscled in alongside 'Banglatown' curry joints and social housing. One man who has recorded the changing face of Spitalfields over the past twenty years is local photographer Phil Maxwell, whose tower block home overlooks the neighbourhood".

 

"The real Eastenders... he sees not only factors that make the area distinctive, but also traits which it shares with communities the world over" British Journal of Photography

 

 

"Compelling... these striking images celebrate a multicultural community." What's On in London

 

 

Phil has exhibited all over Europe and as far away as Bangladesh. Critically acclaimed, his work is held in public collections and is known for its innovation and directness. Much of the work in Brick Lane will draw on new techniques pioneered by Phil in recent years, where he has pushed through the traditional restraints of Photography to develop large pieces of work which use single and multiple images to explore movement and time. These techniques employ innovative methods in collage and printing.

In a recent interview in the Journal of East London Studies, Phil stated that:

"Photography enables me to explore issues around class, human relationships and society. In essence photography is a powerful political tool, which vividly lays bear essential truths. These truths are reflected all over the world and transcend the superficial and transient image pumped out by the media. The street, be it in Whitechapel, Dhaka or Naples, is a theatre which invites visual documentation and provides endless material".


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