Illustration of the 'Posing Faerie' as she appears photographed on Baron Street
In late October I found myself literally walking down memory lane. I was in Angel town, Islington, with a friend of mine, Simon, to see a film at the local Vue cinema located in the heart of a mini shopping arcade. The film was called ‘No Man’s land’ a modern day homage of the 1960’s spaghetti western, set in the present day wastelands of China. It was been shown as part of London Film Festival, and the last in a marathon run of films we seeing together during the festival. It proved to be a satisfying conclusion to my LFF experience.
After the film, I parted ways with Simon and decided to pay a visit to Chapel Street Market in the dead of night. I have a long history with the area, going back to the 80’s and early 90’s when I used to pay regular visits to a landmark record shop called ‘The Time Is Right’. As vinyl specialists, they stocked the best in Soul, House, Garage, Hip Hop, Rare Groove, Acid Jazz, the latest white labels and the hottest US imports. At a time when House and Hip Hop were becoming emerging forces in the music industry and not so widely available on these shores, The Time Is Right had every US import that a dedicated Hip Hop head could ever want, from Public Enemy to Ultramagnetics.
Sadly like so many other small independent record shops, that are no longer a presence on our high streets or in the market place, The Time Is Right, is no longer a part of the texture and fabric of Chapel Street, and with no similar replacement in the location, the character and colour of Chapel Street Market has suffered and diminished undoubtedly.
With all my memories of the place to the fore of my mind, and reminiscing fondly about what was, and what had changed, I could sense I had pecked the interest of those in the unseen worlds, and that they were paying close attention to my rose tinted memories of Chapel Market and a by gone age were you had to hunt down rare Hip Hop 12’s. So I began to mentally speak directly to them about my feelings and experiences of the past. Broadcasting my thought’s loudly through the ether like a open letter to all and sundry forces in ear shot, and gained some amazing results as a consequence. Where they not only drew close, but also in some cases posed proudly with head turned skyward, in a manner more common place in painted portraits of aristocratic Lords or Ladies. I even captured a male Deva wearing a cape and trilby style hat, flying over a backdrop of a striking full length wall mural, featuring a large yellow, upright walking ‘dog like’ character with prominent K9’s. Our cool, style conscious Deva floats silently and majestically above this eye catching artistic statement with his cape undulating in waves, as if affected by winds not physically present. Infact the Chapel Street session is somewhat reflective of a key development with some of my more resent photographs. Were they are clearly not just appearing on camera, they are literally having their portraits taken, and posing in a spirit of fun, trust and familiarity.
An example of this can be seen in the illustration of the ‘Posing Faerie’. She was captured on the corner of Baron Street, swinging past the decked terrace roof top of the Castle public house. She has her right hand resting on her hip in a deliberate pose as she smiles directly into the camera. She possesses beautiful butterfly like short wings close to her body, and over lapping her head and shoulders, evocative of a style more commonly associated with Faeries rather than Angels. My illustration here, describes her shape and form with honest fidelity, however there are many intricate and subtle elements within her overall aura that proved difficult to fully articulate with graphite pencils, due to their immense complexity. These qualities are more clearly visible in the photograph itself, not shown here as it’s been reserved for my forthcoming book. Aside from her more intimate butterfly style wings, she possesses a larger extended aura that arcs and flows around and behind she body. It is made up of multiple parallel steams of silvery energy following the contours and shape of her outer aura, giving her body the appearance of almost being surrounded in a cocoon of shimmering semi-transparent light.
By the way, eventhough I’ve described her as the ‘Posing Faerie’, she is not small or diminutive by any means, she is infact quite large, and at least human size in scale, if not bigger.
Aside from Chapel Street Market, Angel town also holds special memories for another reason, it was were I learnt the art of photography. One street down from the market is White Lion Street. White Lion Street is dominated by an imposing building erected in 1900 by T. J. Bailey. It features two board towers, with distinctive ‘Wrenaissance’ style circular windows surmounting three sides of it’s top layer, accented with orange bricks and finished with pyramid shaped roofs, the building stands out a mile. Formally a school for girls in the Georgian period it was known as White Lion Street School. It was where I studied photograph in the early 90’s as part of my Arts A Level course.
I went to St. Aloysius’ College in Highgate at the time, it meant taking the No.43 bus once a week all the way from Highgate to Angel, several miles away, where the photography classes where held. I was the only one in my Art class truly interested in taking it up as a module, so I found myself, almost alone in a vast semi-disused building, with a great teacher and professional photographer, a dark room and first class studio on the top floor, near the old rooftop playground of a former girls school, learning the dark arts and skills of photography. Others from Aloysius’ College did initially take it up as well, but they soon faded away. At the inaugural class, everyone attended, the class was full. By the second week, only half my classmates turned up. By the third, only two had bothered, myself and another. And by the following class, I alone remained, the lone solitary figure dedicated to the strange arts of developing images out of darkness.
Like Chapel Market, much has changed on White Lion Street. The old school building is now home to the Lift Youth Hub, providing a range of recreational courses and activities, encompassing a wide range of interests. Including everything from Music and Dance, IT and media drop in classes, to health and fitness training and even Parkour freerunning. It is good to see that this wonderful old building is still in use, and still focused on educating and serving young people, all be it in a new, vibrant and different way.
The spiritual activity I managed to capture on White lion Street that night was sometime else as well, but I’ll leave it there for now, other than to say, this proved a most happy trip down old memory lane. A celebration with friend from beyond the veil, and a coming full circle in many ways. When I began my studies into photography, I could never have imagined that I would be using those skills in the way that I now do, to record and argue the case for the existence of Angels and forces unseen, in realms of ether, astral and higher still.
Images of Girls on roof of White Lion Street School in 1912. And Former White Lion Street School from the north-east in 2007. T. J. Bailey, architect, 1899–1900, with earlier building by E. R. Robson at rear (left) and schoolkeeper's house of 1901 are taken from British History Online.
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