Now known as the hip place to be, Dalston was then a cheap district, a world away from what it is considered right now. While living in the neighbourhood, British photographer Andrew Holligan shot the people he came across with a 1950s Rolleiflex, creating an archive of images which has now been published as a book called Dalston in the 80s.
The project, supported by Hoxton Mini Press, tells the story of an era with a rich and varied social history, capturing the essence of east London through black and white photographs of muscle men, eccentric women, kids and people on the bus, accompanied in print by handwritten anecdotes from the photographer himself. “I never spent time arranging or orchestrating a shot”, tells Holligan. “Most of the images in the book are single shots”. In the Eighties the photographer moved from New York to Dalston because a friend had offered him his flat while he was away. “It was cheaper than elsewhere in central London with a lot of empty commercial/light industrial buildings available for studios. I'd changed city, changed continent, now it was time to change my photography”.
At that time the London suburb of Dalston wasn’t an easy place to live. City’s race divide was at its height, nationalist graffiti was scrawled along the canals and the Draconian forces of Margaret Thatcher’s government were busy destroying working communities. “I have never counted how many photos I took here”, remembers Holligan who moved from Dalston to Sydney in the spring of 1986. “In comparison to today’s digital output, it was a very small amount, partly because of the expense, but more significantly because street photography to me is about capturing a moment then moving on”.
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