My East End

My East End: Stuart York

My East End: Stuart York

Next month sees the launch of My East End, a new photography initiative which invites Londoners to contribute their personal vision to the rich history of the area, by documenting its people, cultures, buildings and open spaces.

The project, which has been in development for over two years, was jointly conceived by the Bishopsgate Institute and Four Corners Film as a way to celebrate the ever-changing and diverse East End.

It is being run in association with the Geffrye Museum and Birkbeck College, and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The aim is to include as many different perspectives as possible, to create a ‘collective vision’ of the East End today which reflects its diversity and dynamism.

At the centre of the project is a photography competition, free to enter and open to all. Entrants are invited to submit one image that encapsulates their own personal view of the East End.

The competition will be judged by high-profile experts, including leading documentary photographer Martin Parr, known for his striking images of everyday life in contemporary Britain, and Kate Edwards, Picture Editor of Guardian Weekend Magazine.

Judges also include actor, writer and director Steven Berkoff , a Limehouse resident and lifelong East Londoner who has documented the area in his plays and photography, and Gilda O’Neill, novelist and author of celebrated memoirs and histories of the East End.

Photographs can be of anything – people, places, interiors, exteriors – and there are separate categories for professionals, amateurs, young people (12-17), and children (4-11).

The competition runs from 1 February to 30 April. The winning and commended images will be showcased at dedicated exhibitions taking place at the Geffrye Museum and Four Corners this summer, as well as on the My East End website.

In addition, all entries will be added to the Bishopsgate Institute’s archive of East End material.

Its large collection of photographs of the area, taken by ordinary people, is ‘an invaluable way of tracking change over the last hundred years’, says Alis Templeton of Bishopsgate.

‘All of the competition entries will be added to the archive, so that people in a hundred years can see what the East End was like in 2010,’ she explains.

Prizes also include state-of-the-art photographic equipment, free places on Bishopsgate’s photography courses and Four Corners photography workshops, and books from the Geffrye Museum.

The competition is just one part of the initiative, which also includes workshops, exhibitions, history study days, school sessions, and a programme of talks.

There are dedicated workshops for older people, schools, and community groups including Crisis and St Hilda’s East Community Centre, with more to be confirmed as the project progresses.

In addition, Birkbeck College are running free local history study days, led by expert tutors, for which they are inviting people to bring along their own memories, artefacts, and stories of the East End:

My East End War
Saturday 23 January 2010, 10am – 2pm
London Metropolitan Archive, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HB

My East End Home
Saturday 27 February 2010, 10am – 2pm
Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, Dalston E2 8EA

My East End Childhood
Saturday 24 April 2010, 10am – 2pm
Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green E2 9PA

My East End People
Saturday 5 June 2010, 10am – 2pm
Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH

Leading oral historian Anna Davin is also running workshops on recording life stories and interviews, which will take place at Bishopsgate in the spring, allowing people to contribute their own voices as well as images to the historical archive.

This project offers a valuable opportunity for all to contribute their own personal visions and experiences of the East End, and the results promise to be eye-opening.

For further information or to book places on the Birkbeck Study Days, contact Brett O’Shaughnessy on or Becky Taylor on 020 7631 6672 or