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Snapped 1990 | 2020

22 April – 18 December 2021

Now on permanent display in the Half Moon Garden

Exploring 30 years of local history through photography. Same Scene, 30 years apart.

2020 marked the 30th birthday of Half Moon Young People’s Theatre. As part of a series of activities to celebrate this milestone, some of Half Moon’s young people took part in a photography project to explore the changes in the landscape of Tower Hamlets over 30 years. The result is Snapped 1990 | 2020, an exhibition of photographs taken in 1990 alongside images taken at the same locations, 30 years later, in 2020. But, as it turned out, the exhibition is much more than that.

During February 2020, a series of research sessions took place at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives to identify photographs taken in 1990 by local residents and professional photographers that would reveal the area’s transformation. What had changed in the local area since the young people’s company was established in 1990 and what had stayed the same?

In March 2020, the first COVID-19 lockdown was looming and the on-location photo shoots around the borough had to happen quickly, or we would be forced to abandon the project altogether.

Some of our final activities, before the lockdown was officially announced, were sessions where young people accompanied Emma Brown, the photographer who had taught them about camera technique and composition, to the now deserted streets of Tower Hamlets. What had been intended as a celebration of the evolution of a cosmopolitan, thriving borough was now a poignant reminder of how precious life is, capturing a very particular moment in the history of the world. We hope you enjoy the exhibition and exploring 30 years of local history.

You can find more information about the young people researching and creating the Snapped 1990 | 2020 project on the dedicated page on our Stages of Half Moon digital archive.

Explore Snapped 1990 | 2020 on Stages of Half Moon Download the Gallery Trail

Alongside Snapped 1990 | 2020 there were two further activities to mark Half Moon Young People’s Theatre’s 30th birthday: Born 1990 and Happened 1990.

Discover more about the 1990 | 2020 project

Gallery up close

1990 photography by Sarah Ainslie, Clara Ely, Paul Mancrief, Leon Rogers, Bradley Snooks, Malcolm Tremain and Nigel Winfield

2020 photography by photographer Emma Brown and young people from Half Moon’s Youth Theatres

On permanent display

In the summer of 2022, Snapped 1990 | 2020 went on permanent display in the Half Moon Garden and quickly became an important resource for the local community to share their own stories about the changing face of their borough. Young and elder residents have enjoyed finding the streets they know and spotting the changes that have taken place over 30 years.


Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant that enabled us to work with young people to explore photographs of Tower Hamlets in 1990, interview people who were born in 1990 and research significant world events that happened in 1990. We would also like to thank Sarah Ainslie, Clara Ely, Paul Mancrief, Leon Rogers, Bradley Snooks, Malcolm Tremain and Nigel Winfield for allowing us to use their photographs in the exhibition.

Opening times

Snapped 1990 | 2020 was displayed in the Half Moon Gallery from 22 April–18 December 2021, before becoming a permanent exhibition in the Half Moon garden. We look forward to welcoming local residents to explore the changes in the landscape of Tower Hamlets over 30 years.

1990 | 2020

Half Moon celebrated it’s 30th birthday with a showcase of digital content that celebrated not only the history of the company, but also the resilience and creativity of our young people.

Explore the Half Moon 1990 project

Immersive yourself in the art

For all our exhibitions, we provide a gallery trail for children. School and community groups can visit free of charge by pre-booking and can the exhibition to support Arts Award Discover and Explore. For details contact Androulla on 020 7709 8908 or via schools@halfmoon.org.uk

Snapped 1990 | 2020 is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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