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See a different side to London at these autumn photography shows

James FitzGerald

Just when you think you've got London sussed, photography from back in the day presents a very different picture. Three shows dip into the archives this autumn to reveal bits of the capital's history, caught on camera: 

Rock Against Racism 

Rock Against Racism documents the moments a collective of musicians and activists banded together to combat racial prejudice in the '70s. Popping up at protest gigs in Victoria Park, and an anti-National Front demo in Lewisham, Syd Shelton used his trusty camera to capture the city’s incredible creative response to injustice. A showcase of his 1976-1981 work begins on October 2 at Rivington Place.

Patrice (Ladbroke Grove) 1983 © Mark Cawson

Photographs of London

Opening at the ICA on October 12, Photographs of London exhibits the work of Mark ‘Smiler’ Cawson from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Always happy to slum it, Smiler travelled the city snapping the antics of his friends living in squats from Hammersmith to King’s Cross – opening the door to an unseen London in the process.

Building the Metropolitan Railway, 1862. © London Metropolitan Archives

Victorian London in Photographs

On until October 29, Victorian London in Photographs at the London Metropolitan Archives shows an industrial London now only faintly recognisable. The art of photography was not the only novelty: here is the first tube line; there, Tower Bridge is being built. Everywhere is blurry, bewildering change and invention – and you can see the beginnings of a global city coming to life. 

Want to see more awesome images? Check out the top ten photography exhibitions in London.

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