Cruel & Tender: Pt 14

With the final images selected, it was now time to look at both the collection & each one in further detail.

As a collection, I found them quite challenging. These aren’t pretty images you would have on a wall to add colour to a room. They actually made me feel quite uncomfortable when I looked at them in detail. So, I could say that I’ve achieved my initial goal of recreating the ethos of the original Cruel & Tender exhibition.

To recap, the photographers chosen for the 2003 Tate Modern exhibition were done so for being:

“united by this sense of ‘tender cruelty’, an oscillation between engagement and estrangement in their work. The result is a type of photographic realism that avoids nostalgia, romanticism, or sentimentality in favour of clear-eyed observation.”

When I took the photos for this project, I was recording my observations of what was in front of me. The images aren’t nostalgic, romantic or sentimental. I’ve not played with colour or tone with any of the images shown on this blog. I have to admit that I did increase the clarity using Camera Raw for the final prints, which has given them a starker appearance.

As a collection, they make a commentary on a well-known & well-loved city. By showing both familiar & unfamiliar elements it speaks of London choked by Capitalism in a contemporary context. White collar commerce has always been an aspect of this city, but it has certainly overtaken the industrial trade. There are only small pockets of industry left with the majority of land being developed for flats, office blocks or leisure.

In order to give the collection a bit more strength I decided to name them. I found this quite constructive when working on my Dreams/Reality project for the Level 2 course & naming my other abstract images. It gave them a touch more character & added to their identity.


Consumed by Consumption


This is the view which first meets you when walking to the river front from North Greenwich station. What first strikes you when looking out is how the skyline has been changed beyond recognition. Before these behemoths were constructed, the skyline would have been full of masts. When taking a closer look, the viewer can see the original buildings nestled along the riverfront. They look miniscule in comparison.

In the forefront of the image, there is a whole selection of rubbish, broken glass & discarded laughing gas canisters. Detritus created from the commodities bought & sold by the brokers in the clean-lined buildings opposite.


Lost Horizons


Reminiscent of the New York skyline, this highlights the current London horizon from this part of the Thames. Again, not pretty.



Path to Mammon


As a solo image, this isn’t the strongest in the collection. However, when placed with the others it brings it together. Firstly, the sky tone matches the three central photos. Also, the lines echo the one on the far right. Lastly, the image title was itching to be written.

A further aspect to be taken into consideration is that this shows how the Greenwich side by the O2 is now leisure-focused rather than industrial.



Sign of the Times


This image was taken from the viewpoint of looking down the Thames on the Greenwich side. The area behind the sign is the Victoria Deep Water Terminal, part of which is used by Hanson for storage of aggregates for the building trade (crushed rock, sand and gravel). When walking down that part of the river, you pass the main entrance to the storage area & have to be careful of the JCB diggers shifting aggregates to the waiting barges on the water.

In the distance, the four towers of the Greenwich Power Station can be seen. The station was originally designed by the London County Council architects department, and built in two stages between 1902 and 1910, to provide power for the London Tram Network & London Underground. The building is now a standby power station fuelled by oil & gas. It was formerly powered by coal, which was delivered by boat to the cast iron jetty.


None Shall Pass


A further comment on how the City isn’t accessible to all. Again, it highlights the difference between the new & the old buildings on the Isle of Dogs.


A City Crucified

An observation I made when looking round the back of the sign in the previous image. There is a small branch which looks similar to a crucified figure caught up in rusting barbed wire.


London in Chains

This image was taken outside The Cutty Sark pub, a Grade II listed building built in the early 19th century. The chain is part of sculpture consisting of an original anchor from one of the river boats.

Final selection

Now I’m definitely looking forward to getting these on display at college. Will be interesting to see what reactions this collection will receive.

Criteria Ref: P1 & P4


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