For a few months I’d been toying with the idea of shooting some photographs in Baker Street tube station. I was interested in capturing the old Victorian details that evoke Sherlock Holmes, the vintage lettering left from the turn of the century, the doors that read ‘private’ and the dusty crevices that had preserved the identity of the oldest underground network in the world.
I noticed that a lot of the advertising space had been left with really old adverts, blacked out by pieces of tape so that they weren’t still helping to sell any products that weren’t paid adverts.
I saw a poster of Michael Palin’s ‘New Europe’; a documentary and book released in 2007. Palin is one of Britain’s national treasures, and I too am a fan, but when I saw his advert and the young black Londoner walk past it, I saw an opportunity to comment not only on new European identities, but also the lack of black writers in the pantheon of great travel writing.
It’s important we don’t write off the great European minds who produced such brilliant buildings, and created such a clever infrastructure, but it is also important to make room in our ideas of just who a European is, for those people who might not exactly resemble the historical figures we’re taught about in school, like Sherlock Holmes, for instance.
Europe is a diverse and constantly changing continent, and we need to embrace that.
It’s elementary, my dear reader!