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A Love Letter to Deptford

Photographing the chaos of London's "Shandy Valley".

by Luke Overin
22 April 2014, 6:00am

When I was at art school, a tutor gave me a book titled Songs from the Shandy Valley – a collection of poems and illustrations paying homage to the characters that populated Deptford Market and Broadway in the early 1990s. The book fascinated me at that point, and years later I found myself living in the "Shandy Valley".

Like many places in London back then, I think that Deptford was a write-off – a no-go zone for some. That's changed for many areas but I still feel that Deptford, particularly on a market day, resonates with an older London, a hidden yet anarchic corner of its ragged identity.

Deptford has recently been going through a regeneration process. The removal of the giant iron anchor at the end of the Broadway – both a symbol of South East London’s nautical history and a magnet for street drinkers – is ushering in a new period for the neighbourhood. Its loss is mourned by locals, shopkeepers and market traders alike.

This is not an article about gentrification, but rather a love letter to an often overlooked corner of South East London and the people who make up its community. To me, these images are a visual exploration of the themes of locality and community. The photo essay became ritualistic; shooting fluidly over the course of years, I found myself among a sea of familiar faces.

To see more of Luke's work click here.

And for more of his work on Deptford click through.