(Olympic) Contact Sheets


Stratford, both dated 13th July 2005

A week after London was chosen to be the 2012 Olympic host, I got a message from Flair in Italy who wanted me to sashay over to Stratford and show what was there before the compulsory purchase orders were posted and bulldozers moved in.

The last time I’d worked for them was a mad, mad story about Viagra-ville where the fumes from the nearby Pfizer factory were reportedly overcoming the pensioners in Monkstown, Co Cork. So the East end of the future Olympiad seemed a natural progression in industrial contagion.

The first thing I remember seeing outside the station was the Zeus-sized statue of Athens wonder woman Kelly Holmes though at first I thought my arrival was too late until I realised she was in fact being slowly dismembered – a good omen for this grand tour of Olympic Lilliput. In its place would be the steps leading up to the new Westfield shopping mall – an early example of things to come where the messages of health through sport inevitably now yields to the branding of Big Macs.

At some point during Dame Kelly’s removal, Londoners paused for a minute’s silence for those killed in the 7/7 attacks, the day after the IOC announcement and I see I used the Mamiya 6×7 before continuing with the 6×6 .

It’s so interesting after these years to experience the photographer you were and that which you are today – how you saw and reacted.

Later that day, I seem to have walked north to Clay’s Lane where I met a traveller (captioned Kenneth Harrison) in his caravan where he told me their site would eventually be cleared for the £93m velodrome and their community split apart. And then back south for the first of many walks along Carpenter’s Road, where car breaking businesses are now wiped from the map.

As with Canary Wharf and Docklands, the Kentish Channel tunnel rail link route and possibly Battersea in the future, I do find it difficult to guess exactly how the enclosed fields and fenced in wastelands will one day be transformed according to those developer’s fantasy graphics.

Whereas the 6x6cm format that gave us contacts needing only the naked eye (no loupe) to view the narrative, at the time of shooting, the square frame seemed better suited to such landscapes. Anyway, the top contact I think proved better work and the art director went for 4 frames from that in the final layout – then one from the 6×7 sheet.

See also Contact Sheets (1), Olympic-land, Utopia and Sacred Acres.


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