This sequence of shots was taken in London, near Hammersmith if I remember correctly, but I could be wrong. I was visiting a friend of a friend in June 2006 and so the details are a tad sketchy. What I most certainly remember is this curious vista of neatly divided backyards before a railway viaduct and the ladies playing badminton over the fence. The scene was a touching reminder of the cultural diversity of London; the reality of ethnic minorities living directly under a railway seems such a European trope that it has an almost fictional, invented neatness about it.
What I love about this shot is the obvious happiness of the subjects and the clear joy they get from living next door to each other and being able to interact in this way. They’ve clearly put a lot of effort into their new gardens and seem to be living happy, harmonious lives. I especially like the juxtaposition in this scene. The contrasting elements of the new – neatly bushy green grass with the fresh wood of the fences and the red brick – further juxtaposed with the dirty old brick of the railway viaduct under a ubiquitous grey sky seems in some way typical of London. I’ve always found London to be an ugly city with a bland palette, lacking colour and pleasing vistas. It’s certainly an amazing cultural and historical centre and a wonderful city, but it’s rarely pleasing on the eye and feels aesthetically harrowing much of the time. These families seem determined to create an oasis of beauty amongst the dull, industrial brick and uninspired architecture. Hear hear!