Thom and Beth Atkinson’s photographs preserve the physical and psychological scars left across the cityscape after WW2
Marking 75 years since the outbreak of the Blitz, Thom and Beth Atkinson’s ‘Missing Buildings’ series documents the visible scars which tell the story of destruction that happened across the capital.
Over a million of London’s buildings were destroyed or damaged by bombing between 1940 and 1945. From the mysterious gap in a suburban terrace, to the incongruous post-war inner city estate, the series reveals London as a vast archeological site. Hidden in plain sight, many of the photos feature bizarre roof shapes, chimneys and partly plastered walls that suggest a subtle memory and a silent reminder of the events which occurred.
“Even after three-quarters of a century of breakneck re-development, the alert observer need not travel far to spot the tell-tale signs of bomb and rocket strikes. Vacant lots still punctuate busy streets like missing teeth in a punched-out mouth.”
The series of forty two large format images published by Hwaet Books took five years of walking the streets of London to compile. In the modern city, these physical scars on the urban architecture often resurface as the old makes way for the new. The “richly suggestive architectural syntax of repair, reinforcement and renovation echoes across the images,” David Chandler writes in his afterword to the book. This, he says, “registers something of the cyclical nature of destruction and rebuilding that underpins the history of all cities; ruins being not only portals into the past but portents of the future.”