As the 2012 Olympic Games in London fast approach photographer Gideon Mendel presents a personal photographic project entitled ‘The Olympic Mile’.
Himself a resident of the area, he has sought to capture the diversity of life within one mile of the main Olympic site in east London. The main site of the Olympic Games is situated between the Olympic Boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. They all have some of the highest poverty indexes in the UK. The bulk of the site falls in Newham which has also been identified as the most ethnically diverse area in Britain. It has one of the lowest white populations in the country and the second highest percentage of Muslims.
Mendel has been struck by how many different people from all over the world live and work in the area. The international participants in this summer’s games will be visiting an urban area with a remarkable multicultural international community. This is the first time in the history of the Olympic Games that this is the case.
This set of photographs documents street life and many aspects of life within this area, from the hip and trendy ‘artists quarter’ or Hackney Wick to the streets of Newham, one of the poorest and most multicultural parts of the UK. From street markets and warehouse rave parties to African churches and a bingo hall these images present and surprising and affectionate portrait of life in the area, where many residents await the Olympics with mixed feelings.