London Life – A talk by Colin O'Brien

06 August 2015

Region: London

London Life – A talk by Colin OBrien

So last week your intrepid blogger and social butterfly headed off to deepest Mayfair to attend a lecture by Colin O’Brien at Leica HQ.

Colin’s new book “London Life” chronicles his teenage and adolescent years in Clerkenwell and Farringdon when he was lucky enough to have been given a Leica for his amusement. He brought that very same camera to the book launch last night and it remains a work of art and a thing of beauty. Also handy as a paperweight for all the ten and twenty pound notes the audience parted with for a signed copy of the book.

After admiring the Leica studios and a light refreshment or two (all in the name of duty, you understand) we settled down to listen to Colin speak eloquently and fondly of his childhood – his neighbours, his parents and the local childhood haunts which feature in the book. It’s a world long-since overtaken by consumerisation, gentrification and urbanisation on a scale unimaginable in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The book, sumptuously printed, reminds us of a London that was full of character and characters; where people outnumbered the cars by 10 to one and where shops sold goods that we needed rather than just wanted and then consigned to landfill. 

Colin is a likeable chap and has a keen eye. His tendency to look down on London - and on Life - from a high vantage point is something he speaks about in his lecture and is a recurring theme in the book, lending a sense of disconnection and detachment from London, but at the same time encapsulating a sense of familiarity, nostalgia and bygone pleasures; an almost voyeuristic  perspective.

London Life has been reviewed in the Observer and the Guardian and reached No 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list in Photography.

It’s a great book and a labour of love which would do well to adorn any amateur photographer’s coffee table.

I was delighted to be able to buy my signed copy on the night.

More information here