Thursday 7 July 2011


A Sunday morning in Paris is one of the best times to find a deserted Métro station – especially if two trains cross and the handful of passengers speedily drains into the exits. These platforms display the distinctive tiling of the former Nord-Sud railway (now line 12), tastefully restored in recent years and pleasingly devoid of human presence. The sign of a Nord-Sud station is the directional information lettered on the tunnel headwalls. The deployment of white bevel-edged tiling over the tunnel lining creates a beguiling fantasia of reflected colour and light with minimal means.

Sèvres-Babylone is the station for Bon Marché and an example of the compound names favoured for Métro stations formed in this instance from the names of two stations combined into one. Road intersections provide another source of similar names. These names are valued for their unintended poetry – in this instance the association with fine porcelain (Sévres) and Orientalism (Babylone) blends into an exotic note.

Since they were downloaded more than a year ago these images have languished, unexamined in the iPhoto library in the form of intractable black rectangles, evidence of the limits to my photographic competence. Thanks to the sorcery of Photoshop they have been extracted from the darkness to tell their own penumbral story.

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