Going Underground

The London Underground is a strange microcosm – an odd subterranean world of its own nestling below the lights and towers of its ground-level counterpart.

Escalator
Escalator

The capital itself is a huge, sprawling series of miniature worlds, and the London beneath it is no different, giving the city’s inhabitants a strange other life that’s more than simply a necessity to get from A to B.

Busker.
Busker.

It’s this surreal, artificially lit world so beautifully captured by photographer Bob Mazzer, whose work is to go on show this week for the first time in a gallery space.

American gothic
American gothic

Mazzer has been taking photographs of the people using the tube for around three decades, capturing the banal, the beautiful and the bizarre as he goes.

The iconic images create a snapshot of London’s social history, capturing the real stories of the everyday people that form the veins and arteries of the city’s beating heart.

Covent Garden Lift
Covent Garden Lift

Mazzer worked as a projectionist in a porn cinema in Central London during the 1980s, using his commute as an opportunity to start work on his wonderful photographic project.

He says, ‘Every day I travelled to King’s Cross and back. Coming home late at night, it was like a party and I felt like the tube was mine and I was there to take the pictures’.

Reading
Reading

Perhaps the most touching thing about the series is how little things have changed. Some of our subjects are jubilant, some lost in thought, and some look so sad – such as our slumped, elderly figure at Borough:

Borough
Borough

For the exhibition, which is being held at east London’s Howard Griffin Gallery, the gallery space is being transformed thanks to an entire decommissioned tube carriage.

Juggler
Juggler

The gallery has taken the carriage’s seats and is displaying them throughout the space ‘to subliminally encourage visitors to the exhibition themselves to recreate the scenes and situations in Mazzer’s photographs’, says gallery principal Richard  Howard-Griffin.

Two kids spot me
Two kids spot me

He adds, ‘It really has been a pleasure and a privilege to put this show together and work with such timeless and iconic works.

‘The quality of this collection is made all the more special by the fact that they have lain unseen for so long and that it is part of a unique 40 year project that can never be repeated.  There is something very special about how Mazzer has captured his subjects in such a personal and intimate manner in a place under our feet in London’.

Man with carnation
Man with carnation

Bob Mazzer, Underground, runs from 12 June – 15 July at Howard Griffin Gallery 189 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU

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