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Photobook review: Freya Najade: 'Along the Hackney Canal'

7 years ago

The author Bill Bryson, as usual, put it best. Describing his experience of walking, he stated:

“You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium.... All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge.”

That willingness to trudge fills the pages of Freya Najde’s beautiful little photobook, Along the Hackney Canal’, published by Hoxton Mini Press.

“Little” would be my only qualm with what is a book filled with gorgeous moments of nature and The City. At the launch a few months ago, fittingly along the Hackney canal in Bert & May’s spacious warehouse studio, there was a giant print of one of the most painterly photos from the book: a glance through the bushes into the autumnal grasses beyond. Going from this huge, detailed print, and back to the delicate photobook itself, you end up craving for these images to be larger.

The book starts with a poetic introduction from long-time Hackney resident and writer, Esther Kinsky, who captures the somewhat timeless feel of Freya’s images:

“Even now, in post-Olympic times, weeds and wilderness are taking over deserted scrap yards, unfazed herons stand motionless on banks of reeds, fox cubs play unbothered between tufts daffodils on the edge of the Hackney Marshes in spring.”


In one photo we see a group of schoolboys running through a lush green field on the edges of the canal. With images of burnt coloured marshes, industrial factories and warehouses, mixed with the more rhythmical images of swans diving for food and cormorants drying their wings in the sun, ‘Along the Hackney Canal’ reminds us of the close and important relationships that exist along our city waterways.
Hoxton Mini Press