Sicilian Avenue, London

Philip Vile sees the romance in RJ Worley's charming but incongruous Sicilian Avenue

Worley’s curious diagonal of Edwardian flamboyance cutting a strange, short but wonderful path from Southampton Rd to Vernon Place in central London’s busy Holborn might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect subject for a photo, but by his own admission it holds Philip Vile enthralled. ‘It’s a fine and discreet little gem of an avenue that cuts the corner at a funny angle,’ he says. ‘As a result it kind of reveals itself in a surprising and charming way’.  Vile used its acute angle to good advantage here in a picture that echoes his insistence to not being didactic and allowing the viewer to engage with the whole image before it finally settles on the subject; here, the lady in the brown coat with her back turned to us; and so Worley’s diagonal distractions prove to be a red brick herring.

This cinematic approach to a photograph should come as no surprise given that Vile originally trained as a film maker and started his career directing pop videos for The Damned and Erasure, ‘and other mid-80s indie bands’. Whilst he’s spent that last twenty years photographing buildings (he’s Haworth Tomkins’ staple), for the variety he craves his work extend to interiors, product design and fashion- he opines that the depopulated cleanliness of some architectural photography goes against the grain- preferring chance and incidence to inform the image. This sense of the mutability of things might cast light on his favourite building- Lloyd’s of London. ‘It’s wonderful and surprising- you simply can’t pin it down,’ says Vile. ‘From whatever angle, it manages to never quite reveal itself.’