A look at London’s Notting Hill in Jo Gannon’s epic counter-culture documentary, 1970
In Notting Hill, one of London’s most expensive areas of residence, you can easily get swept up in the charm and artistry of Portobello Road market. While you can find yourself in an independent bakery or in a high-class wine bar, between the hugely expensive Victorian housing there are pockets of undeniable poverty.
One of the most divided areas of wealth in the country Notting Hill has only two types of residents, the upper class and the underclass—there is no middle ground. While efforts are continuing to be made by locals wanting to make integration their main focus for the area, it is hard to deny the flashpoints which have marred the district.
That said, as with every area of London, what can sometimes seem a dark and dirty ground can offer the opportunity for moments of joy to grow. Jo Gannon’s 1970 documentary on the area offers a brief history into what she determines as “the world’s most integrated ghetto” in his film Getting It Straight In Notting Hill Gate.
The title was taken from hippy band Quintessence’s song ‘Gannon’, a group who had operated the lights for bands of the moment Pink Floyd and examines Notting Hill from the point of view of a counterculture insider with huge honesty and classic 1970 vintage hues.
Due to this positioning his, the focus is on the London underground bastions of the time such as drug advice centre Release, All Saints Church Hall and the Notting Hill Adventure Playground, which was started by locals in the late 1950s, as well as the local art scenes.
Gannon offers up an uncompromising view of policing at the time. Charging the establishment with increasing racial tensions and adding fuel to the fire. With hindsight, the judgment is fair as the area erupted into violent riots in 1976 (actually sparking The Clash‘s track ‘White Riot’).