Still is a body of work exploring ways to breathe life back into a dormant vacated public building, combining photography, video, an in-situ exhibition and a print publication.

Vacated interiors and traces of past human presence and activity were recorded inside Hornsey Town Hall, a Modernist Grade II listed building not in public use since the mid-1980s, at a time when furniture and archives were in the process of being relocated.

In the video film ‘Still’ (video, 2011, colour, sound, 13 min., 5 sec.), the town hall comes alive again as doors slam and drawers open and close. In the Assembly Hall the battered out-of-tune piano is played by Helen Kamminga, who performs The Darkened Valley (1920) by John Ireland. The sheet music includes the superscription ‘Walking along the darkened valley, with silent melancholy’ by William Blake (Merry Hither Come, 1783), which is included in the end credits of the film.

The film and a selection of photographs were included in an exhibition inside Hornsey Town Hall itself, which opened on the building’s 75th anniversary on the 4 November 2010, allowing the spaces to temporarily regain their original public function.

Historical newspaper cuttings relating to Hornsey Town Hall were available for viewing during the exhibition (with thanks to Steve Amor).

BOOK: Still

Twenty-six writers were invited to select a photograph from the project and use this as inspiration for new writing. The idea was to take a photograph away from its actual location and breathe new meaning into it. The resulting anthology Still (Negative Press London, 2012), combines short stories with the photographs that were the inspiration.

The book was launched at the Gallery at Foyles on Charing Cross Road and coincided with an exhibition of the project there (18 September-30 October 2012).

Still was runner-up for Best Mixed Anthology at the Saboteur Indy Lit Awards 2013 (April 2013). Nina Killham’s contributing story ‘My Wife, the Hyena’ is included in the annual anthology Best British Short Stories 2013 (Salt Publishing, 2013).


Sara Baume reviewed Still for the Short Review, 13 November 2013. She writes:

‘This collection is the first print publication by Negative Press London and it sets a high standard for a sort-of new genre. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I just didn’t have the heart to scribble notes or fold the page’s corners down; Still is simply too attractive and unique a book.’

Sunil Chauhan reviewed Still for literary magazine Wasafiri, issue 76 (November 2013).

‘Sharing a tartness of tone, these tales are quizzical, haunting, occasionally abrupt but mostly as teasing as the accompanying images, often concluding with a lingering shot of pain.’

Still Hornsey Town Hall Negative Press London Roelof Bakker

Hornsey Town Hall Male Artists’ Dressing Room Still Roelof Bakker

The Green Room Still Roelof Bakker Hornsey Town Hall

Light Switch Still Roelof Bakker

Maintenance Room Still Roelof Bakker Hornsey Town Hall

Council Chamber Still Roelof Bakker Hornsey Town Hall

Offices Door Still Roelof Bakker Hornsey Town Hall

C-type prints from negative film, 50cm x 50cm

Still Hornsey Town Hall Roelof Bakker

Exhibition view, Hornsey Town Hall, November 2010