Featured today on theprintspace blog is client and photographer Nick JS Thompson, who’s work ‘Decline of Conscience’ is currently on show in London!
First of all, please introduce yourself.
I am a photographer and videographer living and working in London. I grew up in Oxfordshire and moved to London 5 years ago.
Tell us your story – how did you get into photography?
I first got into photography when I was around 13 or 14. I used to ride BMX and started photographing my friends riding and the scene that surrounded it in my local town. I started playing around with developing my own photos in a darkroom at school a little later and this is when I really fell in love with the process of creating my own prints which in turn spurred me on to photograph other things besides BMX.
Please give us some information about your project. What was the concept and inspiration behind the work, and how did the project come about?
The project is called “The Decline of Conscience” and is a document of the architecture of the former Heygate Estate in South East London, which lay empty for 6 years. I used to live next to the Heygate Estate and became fascinated with the way that it had changed since the former residents had moved out (or ‘decanted’ which is the term the developers and council used) and photographed it for 3 years. The estate started life in 1974 and at the time was hailed as a new modern, almost utopian community and style of living. As the next 40 years showed, this didn’t turn out to be true and it slowly became renowned for crime, and dilapidation.
Southwark council sold the site to a developer for £55m for it to be demolished and for a new development to be built in its place. Many architects, planners and professionals had analysed the site over the years and many came to the conclusion that it could easily be regenerated (for less than demolishing and starting again) using the existing, structurally sound buildings. One previous estimate of what it would cost to refurbish the Heygate Estate to a modern standard was £35m. The cost of evicting the residents for Southwark Council was £65.5m and Lend Lease (the developers) are expected to make a profit of £195m from the sale of new flats (of which only 3% of the new homes will be available for social renting).
What inspires you?
Many different things inspire me! Brutalist architecture (obviously) and architecture in general. The books of Douglas Coupland, Henry David Thoreau and François Bizot. The photography work of William Eggleston, Alec Soth, Diane Arbus, Ed Templeton, Don McCullin, James Nachtwey, Stephen Shore, Bernd and Hiller Becher… the list is endless really.
What’s your next step? Have you got any new projects on the horizon?
I have a project, which I have finished called “Relics” which is a more personal body of work of still life images and I plan to show that early next year. I am also about to start another long-term project near my hometown which I am really excited about but can’t really say much about at the moment.
‘The Decline of Conscience’ is on show at Hundred Years Gallery from the 19th – 25th November. It was curated by Benjamin Murphy and ROOMS Magazine.
Hundred Years Gallery, 13 Pearson Street, London, E2 8JD
Nick JS Thompson