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Born in Stepney, director, actor and playwright Steven Berkoff was given his first camera at the age of eleven. It became his way to record the people and places of the East End in which he lived. In this, his first photobook, Berkoff offers a unique and historic portrait of the people, shops and streets of London’s East End in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The East End was changing rapidly and I felt I had to record it before it vanished forever – at the time however I did not realise quite how fast it would disappear. The area was largely Jewish and this made it fascinating, since the early immigrants came with an amazing pot-pourri of cultures from a score of different peoples.
For a while I lived in Anthony Street, off Commercial Road and just around the corner from the extraordinary Hessel Street, a bustling thoroughfare that could have been torn out of the Warsaw ghetto. It was a dense artery of Jewish life with chicken slaughterers, bagel sellers and delis selling that wonderful variety of Jewish food so adored by its passionate noshers.
I’d go shopping with ma and be astounded by the clamour and the noise, the shouts of introduction from bagel sellers, every few yards sitting with their huge sacks of Moorish circles of dough. I was fortunate enough to capture some images of that life before it faded away along with the people who made it so memorable.”
Hardback, 88 pages
41 duotone plates, 245mm x 245mm