The 1980s were without a doubt a turning point in British culture; blatant materialism was unleashed while society found its very existence called into question.
Yet many fought back against this transmogrification of values. Networks of solidarity grew and local cultures thrived.
The modest street of Bishopsgate was a central battle-line in this clash.
To the west sprawled the City of London with its striving bankers and neophyte robber barons.
To the right unfurled Spitalfields, with the commercial artery of Brick Lane at its heart; this was a different kind of capitalism – community based small businesses embedded in the huge variety of immigrant-based cultures that have long mixed throughout the East End.
Documentary photographer Paul Trevor was there, up close and personal, snapping a series of images of the denizens of both worlds that has now been published by Hoxton Mini Press as the handsome volume In Your Face.
In creating this collection, Paul Trevor invented a novel genre – part street photography, part portraiture.
The naturalistic pictures were shot between 1977 and 1992 at distances of no more than a couple of feet, often less, to capture locals unawares – scowling, snogging, dozing, nursing a bloody nose.
Following Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane (2019), the volume is the second of the photographer’s East End work that Hoxton Mini Press has brought out.
Publication of the images was a long time coming. They were exhibited in various places in the early 1990s, and a dummy book circulated for a number of years, but lack of funding meant that the pictures did not make it into printed form until documentary photographers Martin Parr and Stephen McLaren rediscovered the collection a couple of years ago and helped to bring the project to fruition.
The uncropped images alternate, one of Brick Lane, followed by another of the City. We smile at the slicked-back hair and brick-like mobile phones, and furrow our brows at the ubiquity of cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
But most of all we are engrossed in detail: the unshaven chin of an exhausted financier, the sadly pensive gaze of an old man in a hat, the proudly raised face of a young black banker sporting a corporate tie, the cheeky smirk of a bleached-blond East Ender sucking on a fag.
In Your Face is both a valuable historical archive from a seminal period in British history and a great collection of photographs.
In Your Face by Paul Trevor is published by Hoxton Mini Press, 2020. ISBN: 978-1- 910566-80-0; RRP: £16.95.
To purchase the book directly from Hoxton Mini Press, visit hoxtonminipress.com/products/in-your-face