Recapturing the history of south London

Photo: X Presents

Former students from Goldsmiths College have organised a photography exhibition which aims to compare South London 50 years ago with how it is today.

For the past two days X Presents, a group of mostly Goldsmiths Fine Art and History of Art students who graduated in 2009, have been taking photographs of people outside Brick Box cafe in Brixton Market to compile an online archive.

The show is based on the work of photographer Harry Jacobs, who took a series of photographic portraits of new arrived immigrants in the 1950s. These were turned into postcards which were sent to their families back home. The current exhibition aims to show how population and communication has changed over the years.

Cara Nahaul, who studied Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths College, is the coordinator of Brixton Photo Booth. “I came up with the idea after I saw Jacobs’ work. I decided we could create a contemporary album to reflect how communication and the population have changed. We are making an online archive reflecting how people don’t send postcards anymore but instead they email them.” She added: “With this I believe we are carrying on Jacobs’ legacy.”

Ami Sheqel, 25, had his photograph taken on Thursday, the first day of sessions. “I came here to see a gig, got distracted by the lights and came up to see what it was all about. Thought it was a good idea, so I joined,” he said.

Sonia Williams works in a stall in the market and was also photographed for the project. She was a resident of the area in the 1950s and she has faint recollections of Harry Jacobs taking photographs of residents.

She said: “I’m not sure if he is the same man but there was a guy who came and took photos of the community when I was little. It is just lovely that after all this years, someone is giving importance to the history of people as Jacobs did. They are showing that Brixton is not just about riots. I just love the idea.”

February 5 is the last chance to be photographed in front of Brick Box unit at Brixton market. The photographs will be donated to the Lambeth Archives department at Lambeth Council and will be on display at Brixton Library from February 11-14.

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