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Chairs and photographs

2012 March 16
chairs and charles kean

Charles Kean -chair maker and wood carver -sitting in one of the chairs he made that I still use


East End Stories: The Chairs and the Photographs

This article arose from my realisation that the chairs in my house, made by my grandfather in the late nineteenth century were still present although neither was my grandfather nor my father who had taken photos of the chairs during the 1920s. They were both dead but the chairs had survived. These family photos, I realised, were not only about people but chairs. My researches at the Geffrye Museum and follow-up interviews suggested that there was a far greater tradition of pride in the work of East London and Bethnal Green  furniture makers than was evident from existing histories. Their work has been generally seen as unskilled and without value. Yet my chairs had, at the very least, survived and it was clear that such work was valued by current owners. This is a rather different story to the usual one of the East End furniture trade.

East End Stories: The Chairs and the Photographs  International Journal of Heritage Studies vol 2, 2000 pp. 111-127

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