To the untrained eye it looks like a picture of an empty Jacuzzi, taken on a phone camera that went off accidentally. It is, in fact, one of a series of shots taken by the award-winning rapper Dizzee Rascal as part of his new creative impulse.
The green tiles and fence are part of Stratford Rex theatre, the east London music venue where the artist performed some of his earliest shows. Dizzee took the snap, along with others of his favourite barber shop and a view of the East End cityscape taken from the Olympic stadium and including the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the Crossways estate in Bow where he grew up, in order to inspire others to follow their dreams.
There was also the fact that he had been hired by the mighty Microsoft, which also flew him north to take pictures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, as part of a ruse to help its search engine Bing to take some market share from Google.
The grime pioneer enjoyed his trip to Yorkshire, where there are exhibits by such artists as Barbara Hepworth and Sophie Ryder. “It’s kind of in the middle of the nowhere and has got these big amazing sculptures and the backdrop is like scenic country and it just adds to it because they look kind of abstract in a natural setting,” he said of his subject matter.
Having gained access to the Olympic stadium he was pleased to see the chance of picturing “three East London icons in one shot”, demonstrating the renaissance of the area. “Canary Wharf is a development in itself, it was marshes at one point, but you still have the estate and it doesn’t look too different and then it’s shot from the Olympic stadium which isn’t even finished yet and which will be one of the bigger developments in that area. It’s three contrasts.”
Stratford Rex, to Dizzee’s disappointment, was boarded up. “For me that’s another landmark because I done so much of my performances there before I even got a record deal. It’s being rebuilt actually so that’s another development. It’s one of the important ones for me personally.”
The rapper's pictures will go on the Bing home page this week. Another shot will feature a lake where Dizzee Rascal goes fishing. “It’s peaceful down there,” he said. “You can row the boat out into the middle and there’s ducks everywhere. There’s some really big fish in there – I remember the first time I went, I caught about 12 fish.”
The lake turns out to be in Surrey rather than in the Lake District, in spite of Bing’s publicity material claiming that his “life journey” has included “his exploration of classical English poetry and now cultural photography”. That poetry claim appears to be linked to a story in The Sun last month - “You Ode Rascal” - which claimed that the man behind such hits as Bonkers and Dance Wiv Me had “become addicted to the works of William Blake, John Keats, Byron and Wordsworth.”
Totally untrue, he says: “I don’t know the fuck about any of this shit. Ask me something else man.” He would rather talk about music, with appearances pending at the V Festival, Barcelona’s Sonar festival and Ibiza Rocks. He is working on new releases from Pepper and D Double E, two artists he has championed.
And he is getting more serious about photography. “I bought a big camera so that I can take proper pictures - it’s a shame to waste a lot of the amazing things I’ve seen.”