Search

‘Before gentrification’: Photographer shares black-and-white pictures of Dalston in the 1980s

PUBLISHED: 16:15 18 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:34 23 March 2017

Ridley Road in 1984. An advert for the Greater London Council is visible. Picture: Andrew Holligan

Ridley Road in 1984. An advert for the Greater London Council is visible. Picture: Andrew Holligan

Andrew Holligan

Andrew Holligan captured life in Dalston three decades ago on a 1950s camera. He shares his snaps – and explains how the project came about.

The Rio Cinema in the 1980s. Picture: Andrew HolliganThe Rio Cinema in the 1980s. Picture: Andrew Holligan

Nobody took offence to Andrew Holligan as he took photos of people on the streets of Dalston in the ’80s – apart from the drug dealers, that is.

“They thought I was an undercover police officer,” explained Andrew, whose photos have just been published by Hoxton Mini Press.

“They’re a bit paranoid, anyway, and if someone comes around with a camera they think you are trying to expose them.

Andrew Holligan with his 1950s camera at his home in Cecilia Road. Picture: Andrew HolliganAndrew Holligan with his 1950s camera at his home in Cecilia Road. Picture: Andrew Holligan

“I was wandering around with my camera. I didn’t poke it at them. That’s what you do with photography – you don’t charge up to someone and take a picture. You nurture the situation.”

Andrew, then 27, moved to Dalston from New York in 1984 with his American wife. She “found it a bit run-down for her liking” and said it was too remote, not being on a Tube line.

A friend had a flat there and had offered them a place to stay. Having “time on his hands”, Andrew decided to go out on the streets to explore.

The Gazette offices in Kingsland Road. Picture: Andrew HolliganThe Gazette offices in Kingsland Road. Picture: Andrew Holligan

“I was just curious,” he said. “There was no motive behind the pictures. I roamed around where I was.”

After leaving the area two years later, he stored the photos away in an old cupboard in his West Sussex home and “had no thought of them” – until he heard Hoxton Mini Press was looking for material for its East London Photo series.

“I submitted a portfolio and they loved the pictures,” he said, “so they suddenly came to life for me again after 30 odd years.”

A girl waiting for a bus in Old Street. Picture: Andrew HolliganA girl waiting for a bus in Old Street. Picture: Andrew Holligan

At the time he was “fascinated” by the 1950s Rolleiflex camera he used – which he still has to this day.

The difference is subtle but he believes it gave the photos a unique quality.

“You look down into it from your waist. You aren’t bringing the camera to your eye, so you are almost like a child when you take the picture, and you get a different perspective.

A boy on his bike in Hackney Downs. Picture: Andrew HolliganA boy on his bike in Hackney Downs. Picture: Andrew Holligan

“People were intrigued by this camera, so it gave me a little bit more time with my subjects. It’s not fast photography. You have to get yourself into position rather than just snap, snap, snap.

“It’s as if I’ve taken the photo from two feet lower down that my eye sight. You aren’t looking down on them so much – it gives them more presence, if you like.”

He added: “People ask me: ‘How many shots did you take of that person?’ It was one or two at most.

Cecilia Road, where Andrew Holligan lived, in the 1980s. Picture: Andrew HolliganCecilia Road, where Andrew Holligan lived, in the 1980s. Picture: Andrew Holligan

“You weren’t generous with film – it’s expensive. You don’t know what you’ve got coming.

“That’s the fun thing. If they haven’t worked out, they haven’t worked out.”

What does he think about them being a glimpse into life 30 years ago?

Two unidentified girls pictured in 1980s Dalston. Picture: Andrew HolliganTwo unidentified girls pictured in 1980s Dalston. Picture: Andrew Holligan

“They are historic in terms of how they have now been produced,” he said. “That’s one side that fascinates people, from the clothes to the hairstyles and cars. There’s nothing digital about the world. Some of the pictures look like they could be 50 years old or more.

“People are talking about the gentrification and all that stuff. There was no awareness [of that] at the time – gentrification has become much more of a word that’s around nowadays, like ‘organic’.”

But Andrew, now 61, conceded: “There could have been a sense of gentrification when I moved there because a lot of artists were moving in. That could have been the stirring point.

“I wasn’t really trying to make a point at all. It was just a very personal kind of journey. I wasn’t looking for poverty or an ethnic multicultural thing. I don’t want to pass judgement on any place or anyone.

“Time and again it was just me going out and meeting the world.”

Latest Hackney Stories

09:00

Sporting Bengal United were held for a point in an eight goal thriller against new boys Saffron Walden at Catons Lane this weekend.

Yesterday, 18:26

Middlesex’s James Harris grabbed five wickets on day one of his side’s County Championship match at Wantage Road as Northants ended on 332-8.

Yesterday, 16:02

Middlesex toiled in the afternoon session on day one of their County Championship match against Northants after Ricardo Vasconcelos hit an unbeaten century at Wantage Road.

Middlesex’s talented 19-year-old bowler – and former North Middlesex paceman – Ethan Bamber made his first class debut against Northants on Sunday during day one of their County Championship clash. Read Layth Yousif’s morning session report from Wantage Road on Sunday.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has been speaking after Chelsea beat the Gunners 3-2 in a frenetic London derby. Read on to learn waht he said about Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka in his post-match press conference – and much more.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Arsenal centre-half Sokratis has said his side made it ‘too easy’ for Chelsea during the Gunners 3-2 defeat in the London derby at Chelsea on Saturday. Read on for what he had to say.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with his players in their 3-1 victory against Fulham but believes there is still plenty to improve on despite winning both of their Premier League matches so far.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 in a breathless London derby after an 80th minute winner from Marcos Alonso sealed the victory for Maurizio Sarri’s Blues as Unai Emery suffered his second league defeat in two matches.

PROMOTED CONTENT

To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now


Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists