Jason Wilde

Photographs / Somers Town

Somers Town


Text by Professor Val Williams

Somers Town is a microcosm for the social flux and cultural integration that characterises inner-city London in the 21st century. First developed in the 1700’s Somers Town has been a focal point of London’s rapidly shifting social landscape ever since. It is a repository of memories, a testament to the movement of people both from within Britain and abroad; it has been a stopping point for migrants shifted through the centuries by industrial and agrarian revolutions, post-colonialism and general turmoil in the wider world. Today the area is an important feature of London’s geography, a working class neighborhood bounded by Kings Cross, Euston and Mornington Crescent Stations. As plans for the redevelopment of Kings Cross go ahead, the neighborhood will see rapid change. This has been an important impetus for Jason Wilde’s documentation of the area.

Jason Wilde grew up in Somers Town. After leaving London in his early twenties, he lived in Australia for five years. When he returned to England, he began a lengthy documentation of Somers Town, partly in reaction to press portrayal of the inner city: ‘serious journalism is rarely interested in places like Somers town. Newsworthy incidents cause journalists to go through the motions and look for failure, deprivation and squalor. To many journalists Somers Town is inner city and inner city generally means poor reporting and stereotyping’.

The photographs Wilde has made of the children of Somers Town show them at school, at home and against the stern backgrounds of municipal architecture. They pose confidently, if at times a little querulously for the camera. Self-contained and self-possessed, they are the collaborators in the act of photography rather than the subjects. A girl in a red jacket stands in front of the huge backdrop of a playground mural - behind her, the history of Somers Town is spread out, and haywains, brick kilns, the gentry and the poor merge together in some kind of jumbled history. A girl in a long dress sits on a striped sofa while a flight of geese soar above her head. The school presents its familiar and imperturbable face, and in it Jason Wilde has photographed small items of institutionalism - a box of file cards, a stack of trays, a row of labeled pegs. He has caught these children at a moment of transition and together they have become part of the small dramas of city life.

Somers Town Bio

  • 2004, The Lowry. ‘Out of Time’ (G)
  • 2003, Tate Modern. ‘Out of Time’ (G)
  • 2003, Museum of London. ‘Council Housing’ (G)
  • 2003, Research Space Gallery, London (S)
  • 2002, MAP Show, London (G)
  • 2000, RISE Show, London (G)
  • 2000, Islington Arts factory, London (S)
  • 2000, Euston Station, London (S)
  • 2000, St Pancras Station, London (S)
  • 2000, National Portrait Gallery, London. ‘John Kobal’ (G)
  • 1999, National Portrait Gallery, London. ‘John Kobal’ (G)

Somers Town


Text by Professor Val Williams

Somers Town is a microcosm for the social flux and cultural integration that characterises inner-city London in the 21st century. First developed in the 1700’s Somers Town has been a focal point of London’s rapidly shifting social landscape ever since. It is a repository of memories, a testament to the movement of people both from within Britain and abroad; it has been a stopping point for migrants shifted through the centuries by industrial and agrarian revolutions, post-colonialism and general turmoil in the wider world. Today the area is an important feature of London’s geography, a working class neighborhood bounded by Kings Cross, Euston and Mornington Crescent Stations. As plans for the redevelopment of Kings Cross go ahead, the neighborhood will see rapid change. This has been an important impetus for Jason Wilde’s documentation of the area.

Jason Wilde grew up in Somers Town. After leaving London in his early twenties, he lived in Australia for five years. When he returned to England, he began a lengthy documentation of Somers Town, partly in reaction to press portrayal of the inner city: ‘serious journalism is rarely interested in places like Somers town. Newsworthy incidents cause journalists to go through the motions and look for failure, deprivation and squalor. To many journalists Somers Town is inner city and inner city generally means poor reporting and stereotyping’.

The photographs Wilde has made of the children of Somers Town show them at school, at home and against the stern backgrounds of municipal architecture. They pose confidently, if at times a little querulously for the camera. Self-contained and self-possessed, they are the collaborators in the act of photography rather than the subjects. A girl in a red jacket stands in front of the huge backdrop of a playground mural - behind her, the history of Somers Town is spread out, and haywains, brick kilns, the gentry and the poor merge together in some kind of jumbled history. A girl in a long dress sits on a striped sofa while a flight of geese soar above her head. The school presents its familiar and imperturbable face, and in it Jason Wilde has photographed small items of institutionalism - a box of file cards, a stack of trays, a row of labeled pegs. He has caught these children at a moment of transition and together they have become part of the small dramas of city life.

Somers Town Bio

  • 2004, The Lowry. ‘Out of Time’ (G)
  • 2003, Tate Modern. ‘Out of Time’ (G)
  • 2003, Museum of London. ‘Council Housing’ (G)
  • 2003, Research Space Gallery, London (S)
  • 2002, MAP Show, London (G)
  • 2000, RISE Show, London (G)
  • 2000, Islington Arts factory, London (S)
  • 2000, Euston Station, London (S)
  • 2000, St Pancras Station, London (S)
  • 2000, National Portrait Gallery, London. ‘John Kobal’ (G)
  • 1999, National Portrait Gallery, London. ‘John Kobal’ (G)


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