Wanstead shopkeepers feature in photo exhibition

Owner of the Art Shop Dill Puneet (C) poses for a picture with his team (L to R) Jane West, Jane Kni

Owner of The Art Shop Dill Puneet (centre) with his team (L to R) Jane West, Jane Knight, Melanie Bernor and Sue Summers. In the second picture Dill with his mother, Jasvir Puneet, who jointly owns the business - Credit: Russell Boyce

A Wanstead photographer has launched an exhibition portraying the town's shopkeepers.

Russell Boyce's images are on display outside the Temple in Wanstead Park and show staff at shops in Wanstead High Street, ranging from greengrocers and butchers to barbers and solicitors.

The exhibition, called A Portrait of the High Street, was inspired by a picture of his wife's great-grandfather posing outside his butchers shop, according to Russell.

A combination picture of the owner of Wanstead Fish Kevin Murphy (2nd R) stands with his staff (L to

Owner of Wanstead Fish Kevin Murphy (second right) with his staff (L to R) Georgie-Belle Horwood, Grace Miell and Paulius Cernihuskas - Credit: Russell Boyce

He has shot the photos, taken of staff outside the shops and the owners inside, using a vintage Rolleiflex camera and shot on black and white film.

Russell told the Recorder: "It’s a portrait story about the diverse shopkeepers on Wanstead High Street that examines their hopes and aspirations given the pressures of online shopping, rising costs and Covid. 

"My intention was to create a historical visual document about this tight knit community.

"I hoped that through this style of environmental portrait photography the viewer would get a sense of great pride these people have for their businesses."

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Russell worked for news agency Reuters for more than 30 years but has returned to his roots as a documentary photographer.

Owner of Caesars Palace Bayram Ali Acar (3rd L) poses for a picture with (L to R) his daughter Elif

Owner of Caesars Palace cafe Bayram Ali Acar (third left) with (L to R) Elif Acar, Ahmet Acar, Mustafa Acar, Marguerite Wimborne and Mustafa Daymus - Credit: Russell Boyce

His photos are being exhibited on 34 A1 sized panels, which include quotes from each shop owner on what they think the future holds for the high street.

He said: "What did come across is how proud these people are and how positive they are."

Anna Orpwood, equity partner for Edwards Duthie Shamash Solicitors, told Russell she believes some high streets will not be able reinvent themselves.

She added: "But in an area like Wanstead people are quite passionate about the high street, you go out there and it’s a very buzzy kind of high street.

"So I think this high street will be okay."

Anna Orpwood (C), Equity Partner for Edwards Duthie Shamash Solicitors poses for a picture outside t

Anna Orpwood (centre) with colleagues (L to R) Rezwana Dithy, Saira Farook, Asya Erol and Akvile Guzaite - Credit: Russell Boyce

Owner of The Art Shop, Dill Puneet, said: "I still think there is a need for the high street.

"People need that social activity which you don’t get online.

"At the moment, yes, a lot of businesses are suffering because of Covid, but there will be a revival."

Russell, who has lived in Wanstead for more than 25 years, has released a video containing his interviews with the shopkeepers featured.

The exhibition is running until March 31.