Photobooks, Projects

Badly Repaired Cars in East London

All images from the series Fixed Badly © Ronni Campana, courtesy Hoxton Mini Press

Over the course of a year, Ronni Campana would carry his Canon and remote trigger Speedlite on his commute to work. Walking across East London, he would search for knackered old cars, victims of the bodge job. By focusing on the quick-fix, Campana thinks he's found a metaphor for modern life.

Being a car must be tough. One minute you’re rolling off the production line, paintjob sparkling, oiled engine ready to roar and interior reeking of volatile organic compounds.

The next you’re a rusted up heap of scrap awaiting the embrace of the junkyard crusher.

Along the way you suffer the slings and arrows of prangs, shunts and breakdowns that mark the journey from prized possession to old banger.

Milanese photographer Ronni Campana’s Badly Repaired Cars documents damaged cars and the amateur repairs that just about bodge them back to a roadworthy condition.

They range from wing mirrors secured with carrier bags, scrapes camouflaged with spraypaint, tarpaulins stretched over shattered windows and gaffer tape. Lots and lots and lots of gaffer tape.

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BJP spoke to Ronni about the collection:

How did you become interested in this?

“Fixed Badly was conceived when I began spotting some very unusual fix-ups on parked cars when I was walking home from work in London. Once I became interested, I started seeing them everywhere and became fascinated with the creativity of the repairs.

“I soon realised that it didn’t matter what type of car it was, how wealthy the area was that I found them in, what ethnicity or how old the owner was – the methods of repair were generally the same. Common denominators are rare nowadays and the whole thing captivated me.

“So I went around shooting cars in the East End of London with the intention of dedicating a series of photos to bad DIY par excellence.”

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How do the owners of the cars react to the pictures?

“Meeting the owners who’d made these questionable fix-ups was always interesting. I tried to be clear when they showed up, I explained who I was, what I was doing and why.

“There were a couple of angry people who just didn’t get it: some forced me to delete the shots, a guy thought I was snooping for an insurance company and one told me to clear off before I even had my camera out. But most of the time I was welcomed wholeheartedly.

“One of the most pleasant moments was when an elderly owner got really interested in the project and invited me to his private garage to show off an amazing vintage car collection.”

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Were there any notable sources of inspiration?

“A good source of inspiration came from Stephen Gill’s Billboards, a collection of shots of the backs of billboards. Gill said he wanted to draw attention to things that are ‘so familiar and obvious they fall below the usual threshold of people’s attention,’ which I do too.

“But this is a series very much born from my own point of view, the way the images are framed comes from my own technique of looking things from a very close angle, which allows me to capture as many layers in the image as possible.”

Badly Repaired Cars, by Ronni Campana, is published by Hoxton Mini Press. Buy the book here , RRP £12.95.