Regular readers will know how much I enjoy my corner of London town, with its sprawling park, streets steeped with history – both national and social – and a minute but perfectly formed high street of grocery shops. I never cease to marvel at the little gems I stumble across as I go about my daily business. One day a converted chapel in the back streets of West Greenwich will catch my eyes, another day a magnolia tree in splendid bloom. Today, it was the ‘Greens of Greenwich’, a small but enchanting photography exhibition at Linear House.
I spotted the sign as I left The Creaky Shed, weighed down with fresh vegetables. My eyes picked out the photo and the title but could not read the smaller print from afar. I wondered, would these be related to the photos I had admired in Royal Teas, my favourite independent tea house?
I wandered into a single white room in the small hall-like building, dropping my shopping bag by the front door. Although I prefer black and white photography, I find myself absorbing and being absorbed by twenty or so photographs of local artist Tom Dingley. They are in colour but the unifying green in each calms the photos, the room and me.
The photographs capture a boarded-up shop front, an overgrown path, a statue in the park… Private observations of a local’s Greenwich, united in their greenness, whether pealing paint, verdant growth or the verdigris of age.
With the exception of several river views with green fireworks, most photographs exude the stillness of easy solitude. Although many are familiar to me as a keen observer of Greenwich, they stir memories of private moments in Prague, Paris, Amsterdam… The little gems I enjoyed as I explored back streets and canals of foreign cities early in the morning before commuters struggled to work and tourists thronged onto bridges and squares. Or the scenes I breathed in as mist and cold drove locals into the warmth of their apartments.
A photograph of a fountain, deserted in winter, is one of my favourite. The light snow cover on the grainy stone and the cobbles glazed with a hint of algae make me shiver a little, reminding me of the damp, mesmerising power of the longest season. Another favourite is a forgotten alleyway with steps to a higher level, the wall overgrown with moss so vivid I can almost feel its pile.
Before long I re-emerge into the warmth of the spring equinox. I soak up the vibrancy of early flowers in front gardens and hanging baskets. A complete contrast to the cool greens and private observations of a documenter of local delights, but both part of the Greenwich I love.
If you are in Greenwich between now and 25 March 2012 and have twenty minutes to spare, pop into Linear House on Peyton Place, just off Greenwich High Road, to see Tom Dingley’s ‘Greens of Greenwich’.
* Photographer/flyer from Tom Dingley’s Facebook page.