East End Shop Fronts

Feeding his twin passions for photography and collecting, Alan documented the streets of the East End at a time when dereliction prevailed

Looking back 25 years ago to today, you could say that the area is now absolutely unrecognisable and shows little sign of the people and places who once built their life here. There is something very revealing about Dein’s photos, in spite of the flatness of these impermeable surfaces we know that in each case a story has been enclosed that is now shut forever.



In many of these pictures, there is an uneasy contradiction between the proud facades and the tale of disappointment which time and humanity has written upon them. This is the source of the emotionalism in these photographs, seeing faded optimism still manifest in the confident choice of colours and the sprightly signwriting, becoming a palimpsest overwritten by the elements, human neglect and graffiti.


“The eighties were a terrible time for removing everything, comparable to what the Victorians had done a century earlier. But I have always loved peeling paint, paint that has been weathered and worn seafront textures, and this was just at the last moment before these buildings were going to be redeveloped, so I photographed the shopfronts because this landscape was not going to last.”



SourceSpitalfields Life