I’ve Lived in East London for 86 1⁄2 Years
The facades of a city may change, but its inhabitants ensure that its soul remains. Having lived in East London for exactly 86 1⁄2 years, Joseph (Joe) Markovitch has left his city only once to take a trip to the seaside with his mother.
During his life, the area he calls home has transformed around him, and what was once an industrial wasteland is today regarded as one of London’s coolest neighbourhoods. Housing estates now stand where Joe once danced in music halls, and cocktail bars have been set up in spaces formerly inhabited by cabinetmakers, who Joe remembers from days long past. Each day, Joe takes a walk around his changing neighbourhood, and on one of his walks six years ago he happened to catch the attention of photographer Martin Usborne. Wanting to capture the beauty of the deep lines etched in Joe’s face, Martin asked the old man dressed in an oversized blazer and worn shoes if he could take his photo. Joe agreed and their pair struck up an unlikely friendship, together exploring the streets of East London each day, chatting about the past, as well as Joe’s hopes and dreams.
The stories and photographs from those walks have been printed and bound into a book titled I’ve Lived in East London for 86 1⁄2 Years, which is now in its third edition. With the profits from the first two sold-out editions, Joe has purchased two phones, a DVD player, a digital TV, two coats, a batch of winter socks, a belt, a digital radio and new shoes to replace the ones he has worn out on his long strolls around East London. The book was published by Martin’s own publishing company, Hoxton Mini Press, which he started last year with Ann Waldvogel to produce collectable art books celebrating East London’s vibrancy.
– This article was published in map magazine.