London Art Spot: Fabienne Henry

 

Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Ireland, Canada and the UK. Sounds like a holiday wish list, but it’s actually all of the countries where this week’s featured artist Fabienne Henry has lived. Originally from Paris, she’s lived outside of France for most of her life.

After studying Law in Paris, Fabienne practised only for a few months. Law doesn’t travel very well. She lectured in Law for a while, spent some time as a French teacher and then a magazine editor (why not?) before settling into her current career as a freelance writer. As you can see from her creative images below, she is also a keen, self-taught photographer.

Living in London since last summer, Fabienne finds every stroll she takes and every event she attends a true delight. (It is London, after all.) However, she’s also very nostalgic of her time in Vancouver.  Ideally, the two cities would bump heads and Fabienne would live in Vancouver with the cultural aspect and the eccentricity of London.

For this week’s London Art Spot, she tells us about her blog “Lost & Found in London”, about the popularity of a certain piece of flour-less chocolate cake and shares photos of a woman eating ice cream in a burqa.

“Primrose Hill”  

LLO: Where are you from originally and how and when did you end up in London?
FH:
I’m originally from France but I grew up in Africa. I went to university in Paris and then went to Dublin to improve my English. I ended up staying there for eight years since I met a lovely Irish man who became my husband. We moved to Vancouver in 2003 and came back to Europe after three great years in BBC (Beautiful British Columbia). We landed in Yorkshire first, which was a culture shock for a city slicker. Thankfully, a work opportunity came up in London and we moved to the city in the summer 2009. 

“Brompton Cemetery”  

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
FH:
There is always something happening in London. I think that Londoners are very creative in many aspects of their lives: in the way they dress, in their food, in their hobbies… Plus London is so cosmopolitan; there are many different influences everywhere you look. How can you not feel inspired or creative when you live in London? 

“Garlic”

LLO: Do you remember when you first fell in love with photography and how has your style evolved since then?
FH:
I think I became obsessed with photography in my early teens. I was taking pictures mostly of family events and friends. I used to love that moment when I went to collect my film rolls at the photo shop. A moment of expectations that’s lost to digital nowadays. When I was 16 I bought a SLR Canon EOS with 2 different lenses and I started to take shots of almost everything. It was a costly hobby back then. Now I still photograph about everything and I mostly enjoy shooting unusual places or situations in London, Paris, Brittany, my daughter and food. 


“Field Game in Yorkshire Lavender, Terrington, North Yorkshire” 

LLO: Tell us about your blog, Lost & Found in London, and how you came up about the idea.
FH:
 I started blogging in 2004 when I was living in Canada. It was the beginning of the blog phenomenon back then and I loved this idea of endless possibilities. Plus there was so much to tell about life in Vancouver. Then I moved to Yorkshire and the blog became “Lost in Yorkshire”. I took a different angle: as you can imagine it wasn’t as fun or exotic to live in the middle of Yorkshire. For me anyway. My posts turned towards the cultural differences between France and England. A little bit like Stephen Clarke’s A year in the Merde reversed! Thankfully, Yorkshire is a beautiful place (no cynicism here) and I was able to illustrate my posts with nice shots of the Dales and the numerous National Trust Gardens (the English really love their gardens). When I moved to London, I needed a celebrating change so the blog became known as “Lost & Found in London” and I now enjoy writing and posting photos about my adventures in this great city. 

“Palisades, Brittany, France” 

LLO: What is your most popular “find” according to your blog or Flickr stats?
FH:
 My most popular picture on Flickr at the moment is a close-up on a flour less chocolate cake. Probably tagging with “chocolate” helped!

On my blog, the most popular posts are the ones where I speak about British clichés and also my twice monthly guessing game – “la devinette du mercredi”. I post a photo where one has to guess what it is or where it was taken.

LLO: With all of your travel, living in so many different countries and having multiple talents from photography to writing to teaching, what do you ultimately see yourself doing?
FH:
Moving around makes it difficult to adapt to a steady professional life. Hopefully this time we’ll stay a bit longer in London so I would be able to develop my taste for freelance journalism. I would love to write regular articles for papers or internet sites as I’m doing right now, but not as frequently as I wish to.

“Amazing Light in Vancouver” 

LLO: Share a photo with a great story behind it and tell us about it?
FH:
 Last August, I was wandering in the Southbank when I captured this scene:


I found these shots amusing and interesting because in France at the time was the heated public debate about the possibility of the burqa ban. It was a way of speaking about it on a lighter note. When you think about it, eating ice cream with a burqa on is not the simplest task!

“Molly on the Beach” 

LLO: Where is your favourite place in London to take your camera?
FH:
 I always have my DSLR with me at the weekend, and a smaller camera anytime in my bag. Basically all of London is a playground paradise for photographers. If I had to choose a place I’d say may be the South Bank.

“Ballerina” 

LLO: Is there somewhere in London that you go to get a taste of Paris?
FH:
 Paris and London are really two different cities in many ways, especially from the architectural point of view. From that perspective it’s difficult to compare the two. Although sometimes when I take a walk on the riverbank or when I cross a bridge I can catch some kind of Paris feeling. If you refer to the French atmosphere, then head straight to South Ken: you’ll feel that sometimes that French is the primary language over there. This is definitely the French quarter with the Embassy, the lycée, the shops and the French Cultural Centre.

“Prison Break @ Borough Market” 

LLO: Show us you favourite London image you’ve captured so far.
FH:
I like the colours and the few iconic London items on it.

Thanks Fabienne! 

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here. 

Listen to a Londoner: Emily Webber

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview post with people who live (or have lived for a while) in London. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers.   

Emily Webber,
(Photo by Mike Laurie)   

Emily is a native Londoner. You’ll most likely find her cruising around London on her bright green Vespa seeking out cool photos for her blog London Shop Fronts.

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
EW: 
I was born in London, so pretty much all my life. I grew up in the south east but crossed north of the river to east London.   

LLO: What gave you the idea to start your blog, London Shop Fronts?
EW:
 It started when I was taking photos of my local area in 2004. I always found them fascinating and an interesting insight into an area, its history of affluence and diaspora. In 2008, I finally put some online, which sparked my interest to take more. Shop fronts are fascinating for so many reasons and as the collection gets bigger it only gets more interesting.       

LLO: Which shop front that you’ve captured is your favourite so far?
EW:
I couldn’t choose just one. I have so many I like for many different reasons. The first photo I posted on my blog was Get Stuffed (taxidermy) in Islington and probably my favourite types are Cafes, Launderettes and Chinese takeaways. These seem to have the most original signage and layering of history.  

  

  

LLO: Favourite place in London to take your camera?
EW:
I am never without my camera, so everywhere! But I’m most excited when I find a new street full of independent shops that I haven’t been to before.  

LLO: Somewhere in London you’d like to explore but haven’t had a chance yet?
EW:
  I’d love to get the chance to see some of secret London, the places that are locked most of the time like the closed underground stations (see http://underground-history.co.uk). Last year I got the chance to explore Savoy Cafe (http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilywebber/sets/72157619950686676/detail/) which has been closed since the 80s, it was an amazing chance to see something that has hardly changed since the 50s.

LLO: Loving the bright green Vespa! Have you found it to be the best way to get around the city?
EW:
I love my vespa for many reasons and it really is a great way to get around. It beats sitting on a bus or a tube and of course looks great.

LLO: Best London discovery?
EW:
London has so much to offer once you start exploring, I love summer walks along the canal to the parks and marshes around Hackney and Walthamstow.    

LLO: What’s your favourite London shop?
EW:
I do a lot of my shopping online and I particularly love finding unique stuff on Etsy and eBay.    

LLO: If I only had one night in London, where would you tell me to eat and drink?
EW:
  Cocktails at Saf then dinner and drinks at Bistrotheque.

LLO: Describe your perfect Saturday in London.
EW:
Probably start with brunch in Springfield Park cafe if it’s warm and sunny, then out (on the vespa) for some photo taking, then back to Hackney’s numerous pubs for some drinks with friends. 

Thanks Emily!  

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Flora Tonking

Listen to a Londoner. This is a weekly post where people who live (or have lived for a while) in London answer a few questions about the Big Smoke. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new victims volunteers….

Flora Tonking (aka The Accidental Londoner), 25

Brought up the The Midlands, Flora always vowed she’d never live in London, but somehow after university she found herself job-hunting and flat-hunting in the city. Over two years later she’s still here and secretly loving it.  She works in research for an engineering company, blogs about life in London (http://theaccidentallondoner.blogspot.com/) and fills up her precious free time studying for a Masters degree.

LLO: Best thing about London?
FT:
So much to do and see!  You could live here for years and still be surprised and entertained.

LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
FT:
I confess I wouldn’t mind leaving the city for the duration of this event; I dread to think what it’s going to do to our already overloaded infrastructure.  That said, it’s hopefully going to do great things regenerating areas of East London.

LLO:  How do you spend your time on the tube?
FT:
Listening to my iPod and people-watching.

LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
FT:
The Roundhouse in Camden – fabulous music venue without the sticky floors and sweatiness.

LLO: Best place to spend a Sunday afternoon?
FT:
A leisurely (sometimes hungover!) walk down the river followed by a big Sunday lunch at The Sun Inn at Barnes with the newspapers.

LLO: Best museum or gallery?
FT:
The V&A, Knightsbridge – great temporary exhibitions and fabulous permanent collections; you always discover something new everytime you go.

LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
FT:
The Evening Standard – even better since it became free!

LLO: If you were to dress up as one of the tube station names for a costume party, which would you be?
FT:
My housemates and I once covered ourselves in leaves and green face-paint and went to a Tube station party as “Green Park” – we left foliage all over South West London that night!

LLO: Best time of year in London?
FT:
Summer – Wimbledon tennis, Pimms outside the pub and afternoon’s lying in a park somewhere.

LLO: What would you change about the city if you had the power to do so?
FT:
Make more of the centre pedestrianised, and maybe create a two-speed pavement system, so people who are late for work don’t get stuck behind lost tourists!

Thanks Flora!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

London Links: Londonist

Starting now, with one of my favourites, I’ll be posting occasional links to anything London that I’m reading: articles, events, products, blogs, photos, books, etc. Anything goes.

One of the best London sites and resources out there is Londonist. Last week, they celebrated their 5th birthday!

Not only does the site have a briliant personality, it knows this city inside out. I check it often for a heads up on the crazy happenings, a different perspective on the news and entertainment, interviews with interesting London folk, posts on beating the recession in the city, a bit of history, some eating and drinking recommendations, theatre and music reviews and all the other amusing, rediculous, fun, strange, important and not so important happenings, etc. in the Big Smoke.

Essential London reading!