Catching the people of New Covent Garden Market in action

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Clive Boursnell has been taking pictures of Covent Garden Market since a late summer morning in 1968, when he found himself stood at the top of James Street by Long Acre at 5am. The street had been soaked by an early-morning rain shower and the fruit, veg and buyers and porters glistened in the rays of the sun, creating an entrancing scene that stole this photographer’s heart and has kept him enraptured ever since. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Market’s move to Nine Elms, Clive is sharing some of his photography (and the stories behind it) with Market Times

A busy market provides a daily dose of 1,001 distractions, yet be it the seller, buyer, porter or as there is these days in the market, the food ‘prepper’, there are always those still moments of absolute concentration. That tender attention on the produce in hand lasts just a moment, yet in a night or day’s work, it is repeated so many times by all who work at New Covent Garden.

“So, amidst the general organised chaos of market life, I can be seen looking for that still moment of total focus on the job in hand. I might be waiting a second, a minute or much longer, but I never stop looking for, perhaps, the buyer so lovingly, yet so clearly knowledgeable, sub-consciously drawing on years of dedication and experience while considering which box of artichokes to buy.

It is these very human moments that I seek to capture; this oft-under-rated facet of a most multi-faceted market. From this photographer’s perspective, to be there for these moments was first a question of building the trust of the market’s people, while continually increasing my own knowledge of how the market works. With the camaraderie, acceptance and trust of the market, I have been able to photograph the people of the market at very close quarters, at work, rest and sometimes even play without I hope becoming a distraction to them.”


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