Nigel HendersonStressed Photograph c.1950

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Artwork details

Nigel Henderson (1917‑1985)
Stressed Photograph
Date c.1950
MediumPhotograph, black and white, on paper
Dimensionssupport: 305 x 507 mm
Acquisition Purchased 2007


Stressed Photograph is one of a series by Nigel Henderson dating from around 1950, not long after he had taken up photography. Most of these works, as this one, deal with street scenes from London’s East End, where Henderson was living in the early post-war years. Transforming the bathroom at his home in Bethnal Green into a darkroom, he became interested in experimental photographic techniques. During the printing process this image has been distorted (or ‘stressed’), so that the scene seems warped, as if viewed in a distorting mirror.

In this photograph the boy and the bicycle are positioned in the extreme foreground of the composition. Dressed in a light-coloured shirt, long trousers tied at the waist with cord or string, and shoes that seem over-sized (and possibly handed down to him), the figure evokes the poverty of working-class communities in post-war Britain. He is not cycling at speed, but ‘doodling’, as Henderson termed the game of cycling in controlled patterns, which typically occupied the boys in his neighbourhood during their leisure time… (read more)

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