Trafalgar Square Shanty

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

The key influence for Trafalgar Square Shanty was Norman Parkinson’s 1949 photograph of two models standing in the portico of the National Gallery (Wenda Rogerson and B. Goalen, Vogue). Looking out to Nelson’s Column, the photograph idealises the Square, a spot which today has been over-developed as a giant traffic island. Contemporary photographs taken by Graves and Madoc-Jones of street life in Kenya and covered souks in Morocco also influenced their image. Typically the front of each dwelling are the focus of trade and commerce, everything has its use and value. In Marrakech, trade, business and human activity continue through day and night under the semi-covered shades of the souk. Back in London, Graves and Madoc-Jones photographed Trafalgar Square looking south towards Nelson’s Column and used this image to create a model of an imaginary shanty town. Sunlight slices through the partially shaded interior that bustles with life. Amid this ‘new establishment’ Nelson’s Column assumes a secondary, almost inconsequential significance.

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