2011 Keynote Speakers: MIKE SEABORNE

Mike Seaborne

'Photography and the City: A London Eye'


Mike Seaborne is Senior Curator of Photographs at the Museum of London, and a distinguished urban photograher in his own right. He came to photography through his boyhood interest in railways. He was taught to 'see' with a camera through evening classes at his local school in Leicester by the renowned railway photography and writer Colin Garrett. Later, while studying for a degree in Philosophy and the History of Scientific Thought at the University of Leeds, Mike discovered the work of Colin Gifford, whose seminal photographic study Decline of Steam suggested some of the documentary possibilities of picturing the subject in the wider social and environmental context.


Mike began photographing London after joining the curatorial team at the Museum of London in 1979. Whilst exploring the old industrial areas of the capital he discovered the Isle of Dogs and the derelict West India and Millwall Docks. Soon to be designated 'Docklands', this part of London was clearly on the verge of transformation and Mike set about documenting the landscape before it disappeared forever. The resulting pictures evoke a lost riverside world which is in stark contrast to the the thriving Docklands of today.


From the 1990s Mike broadened his range of subject-matter and developed a particular interest in the landscapes created by the various housing schemes in London from the 19th Century to the present day. More recently he has been photographing in the lower Lea Valley, site of the 2012 London Olymics, and other areas in transition, specially the inner city, where rapid change is occurring as a result of social/cultural forces such as gentrification and ethnic concentration.


Mike's publications include the major historical anthology Photographers' London 1939-1994 (1995), Exposed! London's Photographers of the 1950s and 1960s (1999) and a telling photographic study of the metamorphoses of the River Thames, London's Changing Riverscape: Panoramas from London Bridge to Greenwich (with Graham Diprose and Charles Craig, 2009). His new book, covering a century-and-a-half of everyday images of the capital, is London Street Photography, 1860-2010 (with Anna Sparham, 2011). The book is linked to the current exhibition of the same name at the Museum of London which runs until September.