SHADOWS OF DOUBT
Educators and psychologists have long known that childhood environment informs adult behaviour so it is pertinent to argue that the same environment would mould personal aesthetic and artistic sensibilities. For example, look at George Shaw’s paintings of the mundane and melancholic housing estates of his childhood realised in an Airfix paint palette or Ridley Scott’s nightmarish opening shots in “Bladerunner”, images of a city of the future squarely based on the night time industrial landscapes on the mouth of the River Tees. Both offer compelling evidence of formative geography feeding into adult creativity.
The idea of the “Shadows of Doubt” project was to try to photographically recapture Alfred Hitchcock’s childhood East End as one of the elements that shaped his filmmaking. I decided the best way to revisit Hitchcock’s childhood London was to walk the areas I understood, through research and documentation, he had inhabited (Wapping, Wanstead Flats, Whipps Cross, Limehouse and Leyton) and photograph pieces of these urban landscapes that were contemporary and familiar to him, landscapes that he would still recognise if he were alive today. It was never an intention to recreate Hitchcock’s Edwardian East End, but rather to re-imagine the geographic, topographic, and architectural elements that constituted his childhood environment, elements that were feeding everyday, covertly, into his psyche and expanding aesthetic. There never any determination on my part to recreate scenes or sets from Hitchcock’s films, the images were all taken as a response to my night time encounters with the areas I was walking so any visual references pertaining to the films, though interesting, are purely co-incidental and generated with a retrospective re-reading of the images.