Cable Street

These are Clay’s affectionate and revealing photographs of this lawless melting pot in London’s East End, where, as Colin Mac Innes wrote in his book City of Spades, ‘ The castaways from the islands perform their sad and endless ballet, to which they are the only audience’.
Inspired by the photographs of Bruce Davidson and Robert Frank, Clay captured the strange mix of poverty, drug dealing and sex for sale, within a kindly but dangerous community. This was the time of the Kray brothers and neighbourhood rivalry, not as noble as the Battle of Cable street, where the inhabitants defeated the followers of Oswald Mosley in 1936.
Here it awaits demolition, in the slum clearances of 1972.

Some of this material can be seen in the archive of the Autograph gallery in Shoreditch where it formed part of an exhibition called ‘In a Different Light’ in November 2017


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