HOXTON MINI PRESS MAKES BEAUTIFUL PHOTO BOOKS
WORDS BY JUHI PANDE
While walking down the dairy section of the supermarket one afternoon I saw an old lady with a shopping cart. She was well dressed, had a little bit of make up on and a pint of whole milk in her cart. I was several paces behind her, and instead of looking for what I needed, I started to follow her. She wore small beige shoes with laces, cream pants, a jacket that would have fit her better a few years ago, spectacles and silver ear studs. At the bread section she picked up one bagel and then slowly walked further down to get a carton of eggs.
I followed her till she went to the cashier, and despite how creepy I may have seemed to someone watching, I stood there a while, trying to understand why I had followed her. Maybe it was something as simple as a need to know what someone well into their 80s bought at the supermarket, or because it made me wonder if meal time ever got lonely for her. Did she have a husband at home? Or a sister or a son? I tried to imagine her life during the remaining time I spent absent-mindedly buying my groceries.
While Martin wanted to make a book about the history and diversity of East London, Joseph wanted to talk about Piranha 3D and tall Scandinavian women.
A year later I came across a book called I’ve Lived In East London For 86 ½ Years, a photo book about a gentleman named Joseph Markovitch who lived in East London for 86 and a half years. The photographs have blurbs of his thoughts and opinions on things and people around him. I read and re-read the book for several hours while lying on my living room floor. In the introduction the photographer, Martin Usborne, writes about how he met Joseph in 2007 in Hoxton Square. Martin spent several months building a friendship with, as well as photographing, Joseph. While Martin wanted to make a book about the history and diversity of East London, Joseph wanted to talk about Piranha 3D and tall Scandinavian women. In pictures and a few words, I could see Joseph’s life as he walked around Bethnal Green, Shoreditch and Hoxton. Unlike the time at the supermarket, I didn’t have to imagine these various scenarios.
Martin enjoyed the process of working with Joseph so much that it prompted him to start Hoxton Mini Press, a publishing company about East London. He loves photography books and has a substantial collection of them, but his beef with collectible books is that they are always priced beyond the reach of the average person. The idea behind Hoxton Mini press is to make beautiful books that anyone can buy. Sure, they’re East London centric for the moment, but the publishing house is just two years old. There is always the possibility of Paris Mini Press or New York Mini Press.
Martin hasn’t chalked out a long-term plan, mostly because he’s swamped with several projects at present. His team of four (his wife Ann, an intern and his two dogs make up the publishing house) handles the studio, then there is his freelance photography work and, as the publishing house gains traction, there are launches of books, new pitches, concepts and a frenzy of activity that doesn’t allow him to think beyond the current day, at least for the moment. He works with local artists and photographers and uses the best materials to make these collectible books, the kind that are cherished and can be handed down. Hardbound, not boastfully large and very, very affordable, these collectibles from Hoxton Mini Press tick several “must have” boxes.
Joseph Markovitch passed away on December 26, 2013, and I met him and his world on February 24, 2015. To me, that is reason enough to have more photo books.
Hoxton Mini Press books can be purchased directly from their website or from Artwords Bookshop, 20-22 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ. Phone: 020 7923 7507