Look at me! Look at me! If I walked down Old Street on a Monday morning in a fetching little fluorescent orange number, I’d expect to turn a few heads (and possibly stomachs of a more delicate constitution).
Yet hundreds of people don such eye-catching garb daily, and nobody gives them a second glance. Nobody, except Stephen Gill that is, who has been watching those whose job it is to keep our city moving. Those who gather errant supermarket trolleys, empty overflowing bins, mend troublesome telecommunications networks … often those who get paid the least doing the things that those who earn the most could not function without. Disappearing up ladders, under bridges and down manholes faster than the White Rabbit, the busy commuters rarely register their presence.
More than most contemporary photographers, Gill is a chronicler of our present. The unlovely London presented before us here is the city with which anyone who lives or works is intimately acquainted: one almighty traffic jam-cum-building site. The prosaic images do not evoke any latent beauty or traces of historic grandeur but simply the here and now, revealed to be unglamorous, unfinished and a little bit loveless.
Throughout this subtle book, encased in a strikingly unsubtle canary yellow jacket, there is a sense of Gill himself as a fluorescent but invisible person. This fits with his persona as one of the most understated photographers in the industry, remarking, quietly, on the unremarkable. This covetable book is published, tellingly, by Nobody.