From E8 to V8s...

 

Last October we visited Hackney Downs and came across a vodka distillery being built in a railway arch – hopefully it is finished now, so time for a revisit?

Even though we’ve cold-called, Jack and Matt at Our London Vodka invite us in to their brand-spanking new premises and show us around. The distilling arch is full of stainless-steel tanks with reflections etc., so a great backdrop for monochrome work using the Pentax 67 on a tripod.

As we are in the area we also revisit Dog Villas on Bohemia Place – why won’t those dogs sit still?! Phoebe poses gracefully along with (only) some of the dogs! Just along the arches, the lads at Pressure Drop Brewing are sitting outside their arch having lunch in the early spring sunshine. A perfect scene... not all my shots need to be of people actually working. This is life in the railway arches.

Next off on the bus to the Mile End/Bow Common area, and a long stretch of arches here. At Laura Kuy Flowers, Rebecca and Catherine are arranging hi-end flowers for hi-end hotels in London. Almost next door Steven and his team at SYFM Furnishings are busy making curtains and upholstery for more hi-end clients – Russian oligarchs!

We’ve seen many auto servicing arches on our travels, but this is one that ticks my box. Paul at Prestige Autocare smiles as he leans into the back of a Porsche he is servicing. Great shot!

At the very end of this stretch, nearly at Bow Triangle, we come across a really interesting artisans arch. Mark is making his bespoke furniture and Darcy, inventor/designer, is at his workbench – his many tools lined up on the wall above him. These two guys, for me, typify the diversity of the arches today: a complete contrast from the gentrified offices in Wootton Street at Waterloo East, say, but this is what my Under Tracks project is all about. Over a cup of tea we chat away, and photograph Mark and Darcy at work in their homely surroundings.

A great ending to a great days work.

The engine's in the boot! Paul and a Porsche at Prestige Autocare.

The engine's in the boot! Paul and a Porsche at Prestige Autocare.

 

Up the Downs and Down the Fields

 

I’m told there are over 4,000 railway arches in (Greater?) London and I’m sure a high proportion of them are used by the motor industry. In eight months, I must have peered into a few hundred such ‘motor arches’, but at C&D motors in Andre Street, Hackney Downs I found an ideal and visually interesting location for monochrome photography. Panel sprayers require good lighting, so the banks of horizontal fluorescent tubes here provided a very graphic backdrop for my shots.

Under the arches near the station, we find Champions Boxing Club where Mark was enthusiastic for me to capture their surroundings for Under Tracks.

On to Bohemia Place at Hackney Central, where we discover Dog Villas… a ‘pooch-sitting’ service for dog owners. Jessica handles the 10 or 12 dogs milling around the arch with ease, but as many a photographer knows, children and animals spell challenging!

Lunch at the Bohemia Café. Nice shots here!

Gentrification has hit (literally) the arches at Hackney Central in an area to be renamed Hackney Fashion Hub. I’m at least a year too late at these arches in Morning Lane, as long stretches have either been fitted with plate glass fascias (for the smart shops), or boarded up to house the contractors supplies and equipment. I shoot nonetheless. These are the railway arches as they today in 2015 – wheelbarrows and cement mixers. Maybe I’ll return towards the end of this project, by which time the new designer shops in the arches might be open?

Walking south, I retrace the steps of my first Under Tracks day out to Mentmore Terrace at London Fields. I had shot outside the e5 Bakehouse, but this time I was welcomed inside to photograph the interior.

The day ends in Paradise Row in Bethnal Green. The Row contains just five bars and restaurants in large, wide arches. Mother Kelly’s (‘On Mother Kelly’s doorstep, down Paradise Row...’ goes the lyric), Paradise Garage and Mission provide good photographic opportunities here for me.

Bohemia Café, Bohemia Place, Hackney Central

Bohemia Café, Bohemia Place, Hackney Central

 

Some Late Summer Sequels

 

My list of ‘return visits’ has been getting longer and longer, so time to tick a few off.

We start in south London at Herne Hill with Dallas and Angel at the DnA Factory. They are on good form preparing for their own exhibition of their sculptures in November. Using both my medium format Pentax67 and 35mm Nikon FE, I shoot about a dozen frames of them ‘at home’ in their comfy arch surrounded by their art.

North to Haggerston and Headway East – an art studio supporting people affected by brain injuries. Permissions were required not just to shoot here, but also from their clients to be photographed. I take several long-shots past the ‘artists' arm with the artwork-covered arch in the background.

On our way to our next appointment we walk past The WhitePepper in Acton Mews – a women's fashion store/showroom. Amazingly, in seven months of shooting Under Tracks, this is the first fashion outlet I've encountered. Ines is fine about shooting here – some nice images captured.

Then on to Charterhouse Aquatics in Stean Street. I happened upon this place whilst doing a pre-walk internet search. The boss, Paul (who himself is a photographer) was great about me shooting here. Their showroom features large aquariums and young Richard was only too willing to ‘service’ the tanks during the shoot. My biggest problems here were the reflections on the glass from the street outside the arch, but some judicious angled photography worked well. Every shot taken was from my tripod here – very, very low light levels...

Dallas, in the doorway of the DnA Factory, Herne Hill

Dallas, in the doorway of the DnA Factory, Herne Hill