A City of dust

Phil Coomes
Picture editor

image copyrightLewis Bush

In time, everything crumbles to dust. No matter how immovable an object might appear, the decay is at work from the word go. It seems to me that this is one reason a photograph holds such power, the illusion it gives of control and preservation.

A City of Dust by Lewis Bush taps into this ongoing decay as he explores London's streets, looking for signs of that never-ending transformation, whether through wear or redevelopment. New layers standing on the foundations of the old.

Bush's pictures require careful study. Yes they are pleasing to the eye, but the clues are in the detail and that's where the message can be found.

The series began when Bush was handed a street photography assignment for the degree course he was studying at the time.

"I've never been a particular fan of street photography, as a genre it always seemed a bit too aggressive and instinctive for me," says Bush.

"I quickly realised that I prefer a form of photography which is slower, more contemplative, and actually about not really taking very many photographs at all."

image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionLambeth, 2015

None the less, Bush set off, walking the streets with camera in hand, covering up to 20 miles a day, yet perhaps only taking as few as 10 pictures.

"I'd come home exhausted with only a roll of film to show for my efforts, and I'd usually be dissatisfied with the results, which didn't seem to match up to what I thought my tutors were expecting from me," he says.

But it was worth it, as he soon realised a pattern was emerging.

"I began to think that what was really interesting me wasn't so much the present events taking place in the city but the traces of the past that were visible on street corners, in the architecture of buildings, or in the styles and faces of the people I would pass by," he says.

"From this realisation, I've spent the last four years sporadically exploring the city and in doing so also realising how fast it is changing, an idea I explored in my last project Metropole.

"But where Metropole was very much about documenting the new face of the London, City of Dust is about recording a past which often seems to be rapidly disappearing, a side of the city which can maybe only be seen through countless hours spent aimlessly wandering it's streets."

City of Dust by Lewis Bush can be seen until 23 July 2016 at Westminster Reference Library in London.

image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionTemple, 2016
image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionAldgate, 2015
image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionLambeth, 2012
image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionBorough, 2013
image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionLondon Bridge, 2013
image copyrightLewis Bush
image captionWhitechapel, 2015

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