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.

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

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