Photographer opens exhibition and auction to raise money for Hackney Foodbank

The opening night of the exhibition on Wednesday evening. Pic: Neil Martinson

A photographer who documented Hackney throughout the 1970s and 1980s is selling photos from his archive through a blind auction to raise money for a Hackney Foodbank.

Photographer Neil Martinson’s photos are being displayed at the Two More Years bar in Hackney Wick. The exhibition opened on October 19 and will be on display until November 17, with the photos from the collection will be on sale until then.

The takings from the sales are going towards Hackney Foodbank. Hackney foodbank runs five food distribution centres a week, which are set up in a different area of the borough each day. The organisation is part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by the Trussell Trust.

Martinson’s photographs, titled the ‘Rare Hackney’ collection, document the history of Hackney Wick and east London over the course of the two decades. They focus on the lives of people in the community, as well as the social issues they faced.

They feature markets, children playing in the streets, the decline of manufacturing, protests against social service cuts and the police’s harassment and aggression towards the black community.

Many of the photos from the archive portray working class life in Hackney and the social and financial pressures of the era.

Ridley Road Market, 1981. Pic: Neil Martinson

Speaking to Eastlondonlines, Neil Martinson said: “In the early 80s, Hackney was declining… it started declining in the 70s. People were leaving the borough.”

However, Martinson notes that despite the financial hardships people faced in Hackney during these two decades, there wasn’t a need for foodbanks.

He said: “You’ve got a situation now where there’s actually quite a lot of money in Hackney, but obviously what you’ve also got is very high levels of inequality.”

“I was going through my archive and I thought there must be a way in which I could do something that’s going to make a difference to people’s lives,” said Martinson.

“I thought ok well if I can sell these pictures and raise money for Hackney Foodbank that’d be great.”

Garment factory, Shacklewell Lane, 1981. Pic: Neil Martinson

The photographer noted that his photos seemed like “a natural fit” for an auction to raise money for the foodbank, where, despite the influx of wealth into Hackney, not everything has improved: “Somehow we seem to have gone backwards.”

Colin Roach protest, 1983. Pic: Neil Martinson

Martinson is currently working on a new project based in Hackney, where he is again focusing on working class life in the borough. Although he is hesitant to begin making immediate comparisons between the two photography collections, he said there are obvious differences. “I think one of the things that is pretty clear, is there was a lot less inequality between the people who lived in Hackney in the 80s. You didn’t have the extremes that you’ve got now.”

To see the archive, click here. The link to make a bid for a photograph and support Hackney Foodbank is here.

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