Dougie Wallace’s series Harrodsburg is an up-close wealth safari, exploring the wildlife that inhabits the super-rich residential
and retail district of Knightsbridge and Chelsea—an area which takes in the Brompton Road down to Sloane Square and up
to The Ritz on Piccadilly.
The project is a timely and stark exposé of the emergence of an ultra-affluent elite who have turned London into a global reserve currency, changing the face of the city, pricing out the upper middle-class natives of Central London from their time honoured habitats, and pushing up the price of residential property throughout the city.
Amid the UK’s stagnant economy, property is a standout growth area. In London, much of it is purchased through secretive offshore holding companies, and for good reason since the source of the funds is often corrupt. With government connivance,
London has become prime haven for money laundering. Many of these properties are bought for investment rather than habitation, and in a city full of homeless people, 40% of properties in Kensington and Chelsea are left empty.
Through the prism of London’s lavish designer shops, resembling minimalist art installations, Dougie Wallace tells the story of glut, greed and the wealth gap playing out on the streets of a city in which the demand for food banks has quadrupled. ‘Harrodsburg’, Wallace’s name for the area, has been settled by Persian Gulf oil magnates, hedge fund investors and assorted oligarchs. Over the Eid Festival, it is marked by the influx of dozens of wealthy Arab royals and businessmen with their air-freighted million-pound-plus gold-plated Bugattis, some encrusted with Swarovski crystals, their wives and daughters weighed down with bling and shopping bags in the luxury retail spree that accompanies the season. Here wealth is anything but discrete, and Wallace’s flash-lit photography is perfectly suited to describing in vivid detail the signs of opulent display—from bags and shoes to cars and plastic surgery.
Employing his trademark wit and keen eye for the absurd, Wallace has produced an uncompromisingly revealing series of
pictures which satirise the super rich and their spending habits in uncomfortably intimate, gaudy detail.