In his book entitled Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, Matthew Beaumont (2015:5) suggests by the 1740s London was a city designed and perpetually redesigned by the process of capital accumulation, including property speculation that required the dispossession of the poor. In light of the recent banking crisis, teachers at community level are acutely aware of the impact ongoing ‘restructuring’ is having on the lives of children, their families and the wider community. As a flaneuse, a woman who gets to know the city by wandering its streets, an opportunity to drift through the urban terrain illustrates how communities are increasingly choreographed by external and international financial forces that often require the removal of people who initially built these communities. Indeed, the dynamics of 1740s London are still at play. In this context, I thought it would be interesting to walk from gentrified Shoreditch to the Australian Fund’s latest acquisition - King’s Cross.
In this context, the decision to stroll at night was also deliberate. Solitary night strolling in the city by both men and women has, from time immemorial, been interpreted as a sign of moral, social or spiritual dereliction (Beaumont, 2015). Indeed, solitary women, have been especially susceptible to this sort of suspicion, whose presence is often reduced to one of two definitions; the prostitute or potential victim of sexual assault. Such reductionism ignores the reality that many working-class people have to commute after dark, sometimes on foot and sometimes across considerable distances. In the past, compulsory night walking was simply part of my own working day.
The images attempt to depict the changing landscape of inner city London as narrated by my students.