Crime meets art in Tower Hamlets as part of festival

Optimism Revisited, proposal for Sky 1. Pic: Paul Greenleaf

Pictures of blue skies are displayed next to wanted suspect posters and crime prevention advice outside Tower Hamlets police stations.

The pictures, “New Skies,” by photographer Paul Greenleaf, are being exhibited on outdoor noticeboards at Bethnal Green, Bow, Limehouse and Isle of Dogs police stations as part of ‘photomonth,’ the international photography festival that focuses on east London.

Greenleaf hopes the pictures-which are part of his larger collection, ‘Optimism Revisited’- will bring “moments of tranquil calm in an otherwise busy environment” to passers by.

He told EastLondonLines: “I hope people will see these, stop just for a brief minute and feel calmer and a little bit better about themselves, even if it’s just a fleeting moment.”

Chief Inspector Nigel Nottidge, from the Safer Neighbourhoods team, told EastLondonLines: “If it attracts attention to the noticeboard then the hope is people may also look at crime prevention advice and our wanted posters at the same time.”

He said the idea to display Greenleaf’s work came after Tower Hamlets police ran a successful exhibition in connection with Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum in 2011, which saw more passers by acknowledging noticeboards because of the art work on display.

Greenleaf’s pictures are compositions of found postcards, some of which are from the 1970s, and new photographs that have been manipulated in various ways.

He said: “The reused fragments of the pictures breath new life into them,.”

Some images are “visual proposals for sky“ that suggest how the sky might be perceived.

The prints are also an “experiment” as they are designed to gradually fade when subjected to sunlight and will represent how: “life span can alter.”

The ‘award winning’ photographer, who is also a part-time lecturer at the University of East London, intends his work to be a: “Relief to grey reality and act as a hope for the future whilst simultaneously implying themes of nostalgia and memory.”

Greenleaf views the meeting of thepolicing and art worlds as a, “positive step.”

He said: “The police are not separate from the community and I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to communicate with people on different levels.

“Some of the best art is in places where people don’t expect it. Intervention, which has been a popular term in the art world over the past decade, is all about utilising a space and putting art where people don’t expect it.  They’re caught off guard and you can get your message across.”

A preview of Greenleaf’s work was shown on November 1 at Penny Fielding Gallery & Interiors.

The exhibition will run from November 1 to January 7 and includes ‘Optimism Revisited’ and other work by Greenleaf.

More information about Greenleaf and his work can be found on his website.

To find out more about east London photography and exhibitions visit ‘photomonths’ website here.

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