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Brick Lane Madonna

January 28, 2011
Religious picture

Abandoned religious picture. Brick Lane 2011.

This devotional picture appears to have been imprisoned behind the bars of a window in Truman’s Brewery on Brick Lane. The image made me think of different women I had photographed on Brick Lane over thirty years who I would describe as having the qualities of a ‘Madonna’. Having been brought up a Catholic I am obviously aware of the religious connotations of this word. Naturally I have abandoned all Catholic beliefs so for me the word Madonna speaks of a special woman who has grace, fortitude and a natural unassuming charisma. The women below are my Brick Lane Madonnas.

Woman in head scarf, Brick Lane

Woman in head scarf, Brick Lane 1984

Lady on Brick Lane bridge, 1983

Lady on Brick Lane bridge, 1983

Lady on Brick Lane bridge, 1983

Lady on Brick Lane bridge, 1983

Lady in launderette, Brick Lane

Lady in launderette, Brick Lane 1982

Woman on Brick Lane, 2002

Woman on Brick Lane, 2002

Mother and daughter on Brick Lane, 2003

Mother and daughter on Brick Lane, 2003

4 Responses leave one →
  1. January 28, 2011

    this one’s a gem!

  2. March 20, 2011

    The day was light and the wind was body hugging. I and my curious mother were walking through the seam less cloth of Brick Lane. Suddenly we stopped by a clicking noise front of Christ Church School. A slice of olive-green sun jumped out of no where right in the middle of us. Phil smiled and rushed off to something else. My mother was stunned and I could tell that she enjoyed the status of being a celebrity – even for a moment. She took a glance on the nosy people around who were still wandering about ‘who we are’. A henna painted bearded man stepped in and said, Shamim Affa is she your Amma? I smiled. Bengali people do not talk about the weather to start a conversation they ask an obvious question. My mother replied in Sylheti with great pride. After she finished her little chat she pulled the edge of her hanging shawl and rewrapped herself tight to set off. She was so proud of me that any one just a passer by knows me by my name.

    Suddenly Late Bawl Abdul Latif the singing voice of pierced the wind and she was stunned. How on the earth is possible to hear the string music player Ektara in London! I held her hand – she stumbled a bit for her painful arthritic knee but smiled, so what actually happens in Brick Lane? I laughed, just all these Amma!

    My mother died after a couple of years and that was her last visit to Brick Lane. Thanks Phil for capturing that very precious moment of my life.

    • shanil permalink
      March 23, 2011

      This is such a beautiful and emotion filled picture of you both. Thank you for sharing.

  3. farah permalink
    March 21, 2011

    I really get touched with the photographer’s concept and subject. Feel good to see Shamim Azad and her loving mom.

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