Colin O'Brien's photographs take a nostalgic look back at life. For over 50 years O'Brien has recorded the experiences and sights of living in London in all its diversity, familiarity and strangeness. His urban landscapes capture people off-guard in run down buildings and streets which have long since been cleaned up or demolished. Children play, women chat, men drink and play darts in seedy pubs – couple stroll, arm-in-arm on Sundays in the city.
The commonplace is so often overlooked but it could be argued that these photographs are documentation of a way of life that no longer exists. That's not to say that Colin O'Brien no longer searches out new images and new experiences, the women still chat, and the children still play and the street life still entertains.
From Battersea Power Station with smoke pouring from its chimneys to the pristine cleanliness of Tate Modern; from slum tenements in Clerkenwell to Reggie Kray's funeral in Bethnal Green; from trusting faces of the children of Irish travellers to the nightmare world of a schizophrenic woman and her man friend on a park bench in Islington – all these scenes have been captured through the lens of Colin O'Brien's camera.
Colin O'Brien was born in 1940s Clerkenwell, London, and started taking photographs at the age of ten. For most of his life he has continued to live and work in the heart of London and now lives in Hackney. His images reveal a lasting insight into the lives of ordinary people. Most of his photographic work has not been commercial. Like other great photographers he took his best work for himself and not for newspapers, books or, until now, gallery walls.
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