Surreal Facades: Illusions and Reflections in London’s Streets

I’ve gathered together a series of photographs shot in London in the last few months that have an aspect of surrealism and illusion and that include architectural elements as part of the composition. These are not double exposures or composites but suggest layering despite being single exposure images.

To me there’s something a bit Magritte-like about the above photograph with its suspended musical instruments, but shot in Camden (rather than painted in Belgium) on a cold February day in 2022.

Portland Place Reflections

Beyond the combination of glamour and architecture in the above image – there are also references to signage. Can you see the tiny red traffic light man reflected on her cheek? Whereas in the photo below, there’s a No Entry sign placed similarly on the cheek.

Edgware Illusions

Portobello Road Abstract
Street Art and Reflected Architecture in London’s East End

Both the Portobello Road and East End photographs contain geometric fragments of reflected architecture, but are stylistically different. In the Portobello Road shot, the architecture is viewed via a discarded mirror on the double yellow lined-edged pavement. In The East End photo (I think it was Brick Lane but can’t say for sure), the architecture is most distinguishable in the right hand face of some technically impressive drawings created on a storefront window.

Kentish Town Abstract

The above photograph was taken whilst looking through the glass of a telephone box in Kentish Town. As well as reflecting the church spires, the image contains graffiti, a sticker and remnants of torn flyers. Below, painterly illusions recently witnessed on Charing Cross Road, where reflected trees and architecture combine with the replica portrait of Lord Byron in Orientalist garb.

Next a couple of shots featuring reflected architecture and women’s fashion:

Building construction echoes the geometry of the designer fashion mannequin and it’s additional square two dimensional board that lends a cubist feel. Below, the cityscape and more conventional austere clothing hanging from the rail to me suggest a theme of an autumnal “Back to Work“.

Retro Mannequin and reflected architecture in Kings Cross
Surreal Facade

I’m ending with two mysterious, atmospheric illusions. In the final image, the reflected architecture within the hoodie can be construed to suggest a face; an example of pareidolia.


Also published on Medium.

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