Tuesday, 13 October 2015

'Come Friendly Bombs...': Missing Buildings by Thom and Beth Atkinson

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‘When it is all over, a few of the wrecked buildings might well be left as permanent ruins… To posterity they will as effectually represent the dissolution of our pre-war civilisation as Fountains Abbey does the dissolution of the monasteries.’

From the preface to The Architecture of Destruction, by John Piper, Architectural Review 1941

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Beth and Thom Atkinson will be talking at  Sound, Word and Landscape: Beyond the Visual at the SouthBank Club, Bristol

November 7th: 12:00 - 19:00 

Buy Tickets here


Beth and Thom Atkinson  launched their great book, Missing Buildings at the Photographers' Gallery last week. 

And they'll be launching it again in Bristol for Sound, Word and Landscape. 

The book is about London and looks at the empty spaces where buildings that were bombed during the war fell - and were never replaced. That's why it's called Missing Buildings. 

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It's a really simple project that captures the imagination in an instant, where a quite distant past is architecturally, spatially and visually connected to the present in the most direct way possible. 

It changes the way you look at the city around you, giving empty spaces a poignancy and a history that they didn't have before. And not just from bombings, but from all kinds of construction, development and destruction that take place in an urban environment.

This is part of what Thom says about the project.

'For us, the most interesting part of the project is found in the mysterious and ambiguous sites. Most of our sites can be traced back to the Blitz easily, using the bomb census maps. In many cases we can even discover the kind of bombs which caused the damage. But some of the sites are sort of lost in the mists of time - they look like bomb sites and there’s a good reason to believe they are, but the records aren’t always there to know for sure. The bombing has left its mark on the physical landscape, but it’s also left a mark on our imaginations - in the mythology of London - and a missing building in London just means something different to one in say, Paris or Edinburgh. For us that’s where the depth of the project lies - in the myth.


there’s a sort of subconscious memory of it everywhere. We get a lot of people coming up to us when we’re shooting - they start remembering the locations of bomb sites and can talk for ages about it - it’s one of my favourite things about shooting it. I think the gaps and the signs of damage are subliminal but they’re also everywhere - I think people are subconsciously aware of them. That’s the premise we started from because it’s how we felt about London ourselves.'

Beth and Thom Atkinson will be talking about all this and much, much more at  Sound, Word and Landscape: Beyond the Visual at the SouthBank Club, Bristol

November 7th: 12:00 - 19:00 

Buy Tickets here


Buy Missing Buildings Here




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