East London Portfolio: John Claridge's Darker Side

Click Here to return to portfolio index

For John, these images are tokens of the East End that he knew and of the East End that made him. They are plates from an unwritten autobiography. When, at fifteen years old, John went up west to work in advertising at McCann Erickson, the college graduates would not speak to him at first, dismissing him as being from the “wrong side of the tracks.” But John refused to apologise for his origins and quickly discovered that he was accepted by creative figures at the agency such as the designer Robert Brownjohn who recognised his nascent talent.

Excerpt taken from an interview with gentle author, Spitalfields Life, who first published these photographs.
To read the full interview and see the remaining 14 photographs in this series, Click Here.

The Beginning – "My first serious camera when I was fifteen, bought by hire purchase.
I still have it, but it’s resting now."

Eldorado & The Dark Corner - “My first car was a V8 Ford Pilot,
but an American car was the most desirable and I photographed
a friend’s Eldorado Cadillac on a street off the Highway.”

How Things Grow

Rolling Thunder -”I crashed my bike and got smashed up really badly.
I broke an arm, a leg, cracked three vertebrae, broke eight ribs, one rib
punctured a lung and I was in a coma for a week. But when I got out of hospital,
my mates put me on a bike and made me take the same bends again.
It was the biggest adrenalin rush of my life. Motorbiking was an important
part of growing up, and I still ride a Ducati 916 and a Harley.”

This is NOT the wrong side - “When I started at McCann Erickson at fifteen,
the college graduates wouldn’t speak to me – I was told I was from
the wrong side of the tracks.”

Stewed or Jellied - “Obviously, I adore eels, stewed or jellied.
We’d go on holiday to Southend and eat fresh seafood, so I thought
I’d send this postcard back to everyone.”

Click Here to return to portfolio index