Bert Smith was a knife sharpener, who rode from door to door on his specially adapted tricycle to offer his services. Taken from the vantage point of an upstairs window, Henderson’s picture affords us a view of the grind stone as Smith sharpens a knife. Clustered around him are local children, although whether it is the sharpener or the photographer they are fascinated by is impossible to tell.
This print is taken from Henderson’s original negative, reproduced here for the first time in print format. In keeping with vintage photography, it features minor imperfections such as scratches and blemishes, and a small additional credit line on the image.
The largest size variation we are able to offer this print in is 80 x 60 cm.
Bert Smith, surrounded by children, outside 46 Chisenhale Road, Bow E3
Original: Black and white negative 5.5 x 5.5 cm Presented to Tate Archive by Stephen and Jo Henderson and the Henderson families, June 2010. © Nigel Henderson Estate
Nigel Henderson (1917 – 1985) was a British photographer and artist. In his early career he worked in avant-garde collages and paintings, exhibiting at the Guggenheim Jeun alongside Pablo Picasso. After serving as a pilot during the Second World War, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he formed a life-long friendship with Eduardo Paolozzi. Henderson took these photographs of the East End whilst recovering from the trauma of the war, and they capture a vibrant portrait of 1950s East London and its post-war community.