Street of Light: An exhibition of photographs of Soho from the 70s and 80s by John Ingledew
I happened to be at the right place at the right time when I ran into John Ingledew at Mark Powell’s Bespoke Tailoring shop on Marshall Street. John handed me a brochure of his latest exhibition ‘Streets of Light’ with photographs he’d taken while working in Soho in the 70s and 80s. On the front cover was a familiar face – Mark Powell, who’d also recently graced the front cover of My Soho Times magazine.
The very next day I met with John for coffee at Bar Italia to hear in his own words what Streets of Lights is about…
“It’s a side of my work that hasn’t been seen before – including people like the very young Mark Powell who’s on the flyer. I took it when I was working in the neighbourhood. My Studio was on Archer Street.” John recalls Archer street’s history of creativity, advertising, music and of course tailoring. “It was a very very run-down back ally of Soho. Mark opened up his amazing tailor shop and I thought – this is someone I’ve got to photograph.
There are other pictures of people that I met. There’s a picture that I’m very proud of, of a woman sitting in the back of a van of a woman called ‘Archer Street Vicky’ who minded the vegetables and the van for the market stall traders in Rupert Street and Berwick Street when the traffic wardens come in. Vicky’s job everyday was to sit talking to people. She’s really a fantastic Soho character.”
“It’s one of those things when years later you go, ‘I’m really glad I did that’. Photography is really good at keeping little slivers of time. If it’s something you see everyday you kind of think ‘why should I photograph it?’ And actually those are the things that you should photograph because those are the things you really miss when it’s gone.”
Inspiration for Streets of Light
I made a little film about Soho about 20 years ago and I loved it as a title. A lot of it was shot at night… So Streets of Lights still seems right.
The French House
“Leslie has a wall in The French for a monthly show. It’s lovely to be invited. I’ve had a long a connection to ‘The French’… I was at St Martins in the 70s when it was the coolest stone in Soho. When Soho was as much our educator as any of the lectures or workshops – we spent more time in Soho than we did in lectures… And we drank in The French! I had my stag night in the The French House – or that was staggering night into The French, My son had a Saturday job in the restaurant, I told my father he was going to be a grandfather for the first time (and that son now is 31 and has kids of his own)… So it’s been one of those places in your life you love and you’re very familiar with.
The French House is pretty unchanging, and to be amongst all those historical pictures – I want to add to it not take anything away. Everyone has their own Soho. There are many pubs where I feel at home, and I would never consider myself a regular… but the The French has been a regular stop off over the years.
“The test of a great invitation or poster is – will people keep it once the event has gone?” Yes John, I’m about to frame my ‘kissed‘ letter-pressed Streets of Light invite!
Check out Street of Light on until 1st February 2020 at The French House, 49 Dean Street Soho W1D 58G.
Follow John Indgledew on Instagram @johningledew
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Kai, aka The Soho Girl
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