We're used to seeing it in photographs, a modest part of the heritage industry: this is the way it was, grainy photos of unrecognisable streets with familiar names. Piccadilly Circus, garishly publicising forgotten soft drinks. 'Euston Arch (demolished)'.
Stephen Harwood is giving us something different. In a series of paintings made over the last few years, he offers us views of streets, buildings, walls, in this section of the East End. They mean nothing. Their importance is their insignificance. They matter because they will disappear. If edgelands have been defined as 'the interfacial interzone between urban and rural', these are the interface between today and tomorrow, decay and gentrification, neglect and profit. One day all these will be gated communities.
We're used to seeing graffiti, watching it erase and evolve but we are now besieged by 'street art' carefully 'curated' and dutifully preserved. So-called re-generation has ossified real change. The beating heart has stopped. The paint has dried.
"... la forme d'une ville
Change plus vite, hélas! que le coeur d'un mortel"
'Le Cygne' Charles Baudelaire