Towards the end of 1976 Sunderland born photographer George Plemper moved to the Thamesmead area of South London to head up the Chemistry department at Riverside School. On arriving he began photographing the kids at the school, initially as a way of making a connection and boosting their confidence. Across the following years he took literally hundreds of pictures, snapshots of the kids growing up that together form a unique view of life in late seventies Britain. The series of black and white photographs jointly capture both a period of time and place (a typical lates 70’s estate and the looming concrete architecture) as well as the contrasting emotions of kids hitting adolescence with all the mixture of excitment, boredom, uncertainty and awkwardness that entails.
Plempers massive collection of images are also a fantastic reminder of late seventies fashions and the changes and variety of styles from that period with a cross section of flared trousers, huge knots in school ties, bomber jackets and harringtons, junior punks and skinheads on display. Bizarrely no book has been published collecting this series, the photographs taken by Plemper at the time (the type of access that would simply be unheard of nowadays) form together and offer an invaluable view of Britains social history.
“I went into teaching full of belief and idealism, knowing that our children had limitless potential. After 5 years I realised that there was no place for idealism in teaching. I left in 1978 not knowing what I would do. Some of the photorgraphs in this set were shown in a “Half Moon Photogaphy Workshop” exhibition in 1979. I titled the exhibition “Lost at School”. Of course I was referring to my own situation, not that of the children in the photographs. My negatives and photographs sat mouldering in the back of my garage for 30 years before the wonders of the digital age allowed me to rescue them.” George Plemper