Wolfgang Suschitzky came to London (from Vienna via the Netherlands) in 1935. A prolific cameraman (Get Carter is one of the cult classics he helped create) and photographer, whose favourite of his own works was his portrait of Guy the Gorilla (1958), he died this month at the age of 104. I was drawn first to his Charing Cross Road photographs. There’s something wonderful about seeing a scene you already know, but at a different time, in snow. It’s to do with an attachment to place, which is an idea I’ve thought about a lot this year. I’ve no sense of the roots that people reference when they talk about going home, or ask me where I come from. I very recently learned that I spent some of my infancy in Tregrehan, Cornwall, and I’ve yet to go back to the town where I was born in Zambia. Instead, I’ve formed attachments to locations that have significance for me for other reasons; it’s the places themselves, rather than any human bonds, which have grown to become something. Looking again at Suschitzky’s images of London, I experienced a kind of doubling and was reminded of the words of Marc-Antoine Gaudin (1804-1880) who said, after the first public demonstration of Daguerre’s process at the joint meeting of the Academy of Science and the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris on August 19, 1839: ‘We all felt an extraordinary emotion and unknown sensations…Everyone wanted to copy the view offered by his window.’
Take a look at his images and find out more about Suschitzky here, on the Photographers’ Gallery website.