Saturday, 5 November 2011

photographs for research

Nicholas Brewer
Nicholas Brewer

I have spent a couple of hours this afternoon looking through old photographs of the high street in Wimbledon. The Broadway in SW19 has four excellent ghost signs still in existence; during the early 20th century they were everywhere. The earliest photograph that I could find for the sign above was taken in 1908. 'Dining Rooms',  at least 113 years old is looking good. While the commuters of London were using trams to get around; a ghost sign adorned every other wall. Looking through the pictures today I saw one of the first photographic businesses in the area. They were trading from 1900, roughly 60 years after the birth of photography. There were pictures of the other signs I have photographed and there is more research to do. Using photography as away of piecing together a time-line for the ghost signs is a first for me and demonstrates the many uses of the medium.
Gregory Crewson
The 'Genius of Photography', the seminal six part program from the BBC is essential viewing for those wanting to increase their knowledge of photography. While watching the final episode recently Gregory Crewson was interviewed and talked about his method of working. Each image is constructed like a film set with roads closed and street lights turned off. The cost and organisation involved in such a mammoth production is mind boggling. The work has a cinematic quality rich in pools of light bringing out small details that guide the narrative.  The work is very atmospheric and reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting. Crewson's prints sell for about £70,000.

Edward Hopper


  1. Very nice blog. Just discovering 'Ghost Signs' and am very fascinated. Things seem to 'change' faster in US than in UK so I wonder how many are left!

  2. Thanks for your post. The ghost signs are great works of art created by really skill full pianters. The fact that they have lasted so long amongst the pollution and redevelopment of London is amazing.
    Let me know what you find near you.