A secret pocket, loved by the locals but little known to the rest of London, it was an untamed part of the East End where golfers and quad bikes played next to gasometers and scrap yards; and where giant weeds, the height of a small house, dominated the river bank.
With its southern most tip within sight of the city skyline on the River Thames, the valley meanders through forty to fifty miles, travelling north over urban wastelands to the rural farmlands of Bedfordshire, passing industrial estates, sports centres, allotments and housing projects. Once a busy commercial waterway, the River Lea and its companion canal became a nature reserve and leisure area and is now part of the central threads in the regeneration of the area.
In 2005 Sophia Evans was commissioned by The Observer to document the strange beauty of the Lea Valley, a forgotten industrial wasteland merged with persistent and unfettered nature, creating a tangle of the urban and rural. The result is a poetic snapshot of an area that has been changed forever.
Photographer Sophia Evans was born in Lilongwe, Malawi and spent her childhood in Nicaragua and Belize. She studied Latin American Studies at Portsmouth University and photography at the London College of Printing. Sophia has worked throughout Africa and Latin America as well as Afghanistan and India on assignment for magazines and leading NGO's. In 2000 she was selected for the prestigious World Press Masterclass in Holland. She is the recipient of the Canon Woman Photojournalist of the Year Award 2002, presented to her at the Visa Pour l'Image photography festival in Perpignan, France, for her work in Nicaragua. Her project titled Dirty Oil Business, an investigative study of the corruption and exploitation that Nigeria suffers at the hands of multi-national oil companies and their government allies, won her the Fiftycrows Foundation Medal of Excellence 2003. In 2005 she was awarded the French 3P grant for her exploration of the immigrant community in Hackney, London's East End.