I set out to photograph London in the 1980s, planning to examine it in various ways. I wanted to show all of its significant physical structures, both the unusual and the typical. I wanted to look at the changes that were happening and perhaps through the images to suggest some of the forces at work. Industry in London was disappearing fast, and there were various new developments.
I was interested in how people had shaped and were shaping their immediate environments, how changes in population were altering the city, in the influence of new technologies.
The city as idea also captured my imagination, and I found out more about its history and in the ideas people had of it. There were certain areas that had a particular attraction, often because of their past associations. The idea of the Greenwich Meridian fascinated me and became the basis for a project around this imaginary line; others were based around more tangible lines, such as the DLR, or the Croydon tramway, or around various roads and routes.
London has always had important links with its rivers, the Thames, the Lea and others, and with the docks, which have been redeveloped over the past twenty or so years.
In the 1980s I worked both in black and white and colour, mainly with a 35mm shift lens that enabled me to play with or correct the perspective of my images on 35mm film. In 1992 I began to work also with a panoramic format camera that gave an angle of view of roughly 120 degrees, which gave a new dimension to my work.
Still Occupied was my first real attempt to photograph the urban landscape, in an extended study of the city of Kingston upon Hull, which was exhibited there in 1983. When I started photographing it around 1975, Hull was in the throes of a massive redevelopment, with many inner city areas being bull-dozed and instant slums being created on its outskirts. It was a process I had been involved in opposing politically in Hulme and Moss Side in Manchester in the previous decade, but as a visitor to Hull I simply took up my camera to record my feelings.
The first project I worked on with a panoramic camera was based around the building of the Beckton extension of the DLR in 1992, and later extended to the rest of this transport system. I went back later to work on it again in colour.
Meridian was started in 1994 as an attempt to produce a project for the Millennium involving various markers and publications. This was submitted to one of the early competitions but failed to gain support, but I continued my photographic work. Essentially it shows a cross section of Greater London in a series of photographs taken along the Meridian from Chingford to New Addington in 1994-6.