Billings­gate fish mar­ket is London’s old­est whole­sale mar­ket. It offi­cially opens at four o’clock in the morn­ing when a bell sig­nals the start of trade and it closes at half past nine. But the day’s work starts well before trade begins and con­tin­ues through the morn­ing on and off the mar­ket floor. The archi­tec­ture of Billings­gate offers a par­tic­u­lar oppor­tu­nity for see­ing the ‘tem­po­ral unfold­ing’ (Simp­son, 2012: 431) of the mar­ket space and the work which hap­pens there at dif­fer­ent times. There is a gallery at either end of the first floor over­look­ing the mar­ket hall where the sound is muted and the view inter­rupted by fire glass. On 11 Decem­ber 2012, just after mid­night, together with film-maker Kevin Reynolds, of very­Mov­ing­Pic­tures, we set up cam­eras in this first floor gallery loca­tion look­ing down the length of the mar­ket hall above the begin­ning of the cen­tral isle. We took a pho­to­graph every 10 sec­onds from one o’clock in the morn­ing until mid­day. Every hour or so, I walked around the mar­ket floor mak­ing short sound record­ings of what­ever was hap­pen­ing at the time. The film we made is a com­bi­na­tion of the sequence of images speeded up (so one hour is pre­sented in 30 sec­onds) with snip­pets of sound cor­re­spond­ing to the same time period in which the pho­tographs were taken. It shows phys­i­cal activ­ity, move­ment, inter­ac­tions, pat­terns, rhythms and flows which can’t be per­ceived in real time. And it shows how the mar­ket comes to life through work.

Note
This film was made as part of my British Academy-funded project, ‘Work­ing with Fish from Sea to Table’ (ref: SG100889).

Ref­er­ence
Simp­son, Paul (2012) ‘Appre­hend­ing every­day rhythms: rhyth­m­analy­sis, time-lapse pho­tog­ra­phy, and the space-time of every­day street per­for­mance’ cul­tural geo­gra­phies 19(4): 423–445.