Whenever the City of London puts on its pomp and ceremony, off stage, frantic preparations are taking place, and now some of those preparations have been revealed.
For the past few years, an official photographer has been trailing around various City of London traditions taking photos from the other side of the curtain.
The back of The Queen’s hat might not seem that interesting until you realise you are looking at the same scene her Maj was looking at only a few seconds earlier. Liverymen caught in that transition from ordinary office workers in suits into the garb of ancient uniforms and losing their individual identity behind the garb of officialdom.
A lone pair of boots waiting for their owner.
Watermen in their formal dress relaxing in a shabby waiting room after a hard day’s parading.
It’s a curious collection, as curious as the City of London itself can at times become — a grown-up school play as adult men don strange clothes and enact out ancient rites, in the heart of the modern metropolis.
As a photographer myself, chances to take “behind the scenes” photos are a wonderful opportunity to share what is hidden from the public, concealed behind building hoardings and plastic covers.
This exhibition is a chance to see behind the scenes of what goes into making city pomp work, or for some, a note-taking exercise about ceremonies we might not have known about.
As a collection, it’s a delightful glimpse into the paddling that goes on under the water, as the swan glides serenely past.
Unusually for the Guildhall Art Gallery, this exhibition is not free, and costs £5, as I found out when I paid, and then was told it would close for the evening, in 25 minutes. Although that is just about enough time to take in this display.
The exhibition, Unseen City is open daily until 31st July.