Cultural Olympiad, art and the Olympic Games — Photo courtesy of Maik KschischoArguably East Ham's most famous export, the British photographer David Bailey, renowned the world over, has returned to the borough of Newham to mark the London Olympics with a retrospective exhibition looking back at 50 years of the East End of London. His exhibition will be opening in a temporary exhibition space in 'Old Compressor House' curated by 'Create - Barbican' part of the city's most vibrant arts collective comprising gallery spaces, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls, as well as a Blade Runner-esque sixties vision of the future complete with concrete walkways, high rise flats and neon lit road tunnels right in the heart of the city of London.
David Bailey moved to East Ham when he was just 3 and a half and spent his childhood growing up in the badlands of the East End. The images in the exhibition come from three of his new books on the East End of London. He chose periods which he remembers as being 'extra energetic' 1961, 1968 and 1983. All these eras are very different from the slick veneers that covers London's docklands and much of the area around the Olympic site too.
David Bailey acknowledges this. While he still considers London his home, he says that the East End has changed radically over the years he's been away, but mostly in a good way.
If you're looking for fashion plates, then you might be disappointed, but if you want to see some haunting records of London's social history then step this way. And, if you want a recommendation of where to eat from the famous photographer, once you come to his exhibition, then step just up the road to Chan's in East Ham, a family run Chinese restaurant which has been doing business since 1941, and is still Bailey's favourite restaurant in the whole world.
Tickets are selling fast, and once this exhibition closes, the hope is that the space will be used for more arts events in future, as part of the Olympic legacy.