Interested in the changes and impact the 2012 Olympics would have on this area of London, photographer Jan Stradtmann was drawn to the story of the allotments as a symbol of the upheaval such dramatic regeneration has for local residents and their environment.
Visiting in the spring of 2007 Jan found a small paradise that was overcome with a prevailing sense of sadness at its imminent destruction. Realising that to document the beauty of this bucolic scene would only show what it had once been without the pathos of its threatened loss, Jan wanted to make a visual memorial of the Manor Garden Allotments.
There is a similarity between Jan's treatment of the abandoned allotments and the photography of crime scenes. After the body has been removed so the forensic photographer takes over and documents the scene. Recording everything in its correct place, isolating objects of significance, which can only be removed once the photographer has done his work. Jan's arrival on the scene, mimics that of the police photographer. Arriving as the last gardeners move out, so the bodies are removed and Jan is left with just the crime scene, untended vegetables and derelict buildings; a decaying paradise.
Shooting at night and influenced by the flash photography of Weegee's crime images, Jan selected the garden sheds as his objects of evidence. Standing proud against the night sky and pregnant with the history of their owners, each shed becomes a character in Jan's story. With their individual designs and use of adhoc recycled materials they are all different, bringing into visual relief each of the allotment gardeners' own personalities. Curtains at the windows and numbers on the doors remind us that once there was a human spirit associated with these places.