An inevitable feeling of loss — Aurella Yussuf

I’ve spent the best part of three decades living in various parts of Greenwich Borough, and frequenting the same train line through the area. Over the years, as I travel, there have been many changes in the view from the train. This area has long been dismissed and derided for, amongst other things, having poor transport links in comparison with other parts of London – no underground lines, and limited river crossings. But the Southeastern train line remains a crucial connection between this outer borough of London, and everything else that the rest of the city has to offer.

During recent journeys on Southeastern, I began to experience what geographer David Harvey describes as an “inevitable feeling of loss” [1], which I could not concretise, yet associated with the physical changes happening in a space of familiarity. I’d spent most of my life witnessing, as well as being part of, different waves of immigrants moving into the area, and bringing with them their customs and culture. New build housing, both private and social spread out in the formerly industrial wastelands of Thamesmead. Businesses closed, and new ones replaced them. However, something about the nature of more recent developments seems more insidious and unnerving.

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These photographs began as a documentary project, but evolved into an act of defiance against looming, oppressive architecture with its glossy aspirational marketing which only serves to communicate ‘this isn’t for you.’

Notes

[1] David Harvey, Rebel Cities, (London: Verso, 2012)


Aurella Yussuf is a London based art historian and writer. She is a regular contributor to OOMK Zine, and has appeared on BBC Radio London, Colourful Radio and as a panellist at DIY Cultures. Follow her on Twitter at @rellativity and @wocfilmclub