These images are from photographer Steve Harries‘ new book Reading Lines – which is to launch with an exhibition in Carhartt’s London flagship store on Earlham Street from 1st February. Reading Lines is a collection of images of London skateboarders and the public spaces they explore, exploit and ultimately interact with.
“The subjects portrayed in these works are both the skateboarders and also some of London’s most iconic buildings,” explains Harries. “They are from the length and breadth of the community – young, old, amateur and professional, of varying backgrounds and professions. What unites them is an interest in public space and a desire to interact with the planes, surfaces and textures of London’s built environment.”
The images in the book are accompanied by text by not only well regarded members of the skateboarding community such as Paul Sunman, founder of Slam City Skates, but also by a selection of high profile young Architects. Below is the foreword contributed by Professor Iain Borden, director of the School of Architecture and author of Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body:
Steve Harries’ documentation of the spaces of the city reveals one of
the most remarkable conditions of our modern urban world – the
possibility that lies between, on the one hand, the wondrous presence
of architecture and urban space (concrete, hard materials, flatness,
orthogonality, geometricism) and, on the other, the equally wondrous
possibilities for human experience (movement, contemplation, desire,
exchange, production). The city, as seen here, gives us so very much,
but it also needs our own interaction in order to be fully fulfilled of
Yet the documents shown are also remarkably subtle, avoiding the
perhaps-too-obvious dynamic, sports-style imagery so common to much
skateboarding and street imagery. In Reading Lines, we find the
architectures and spaces carefully juxtaposed against not action, but
the possibility of action, that is against skaters thinking,
contemplating and reflecting on their movements. An element of
suspended temporality is also apparent – are these movements yet to
come, or have they already happened? It is impossible to tell … In
other images, certain movements are indeed revealed, but only as traces
and lines sketched out as lines of light-ghostly presences of an
interaction that is, once again, disclosed but not made explicit.
Ultimately, Reading Lines is far more than a recording of urban space –
it acts a both a reminder and an exhortation that the city is a
playground for all of us, if only we might choose to treat it as such.
The project has been designed, edited, and published in collaboration with Richard Bull of Yacht Associates / Generation Yacht – and has been sponsored by Carhartt. Below is the poster for the launch exhibition.