Listen to a Londoner: Sarah Orrick

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. 

Sarah Orrick, 24

If you can find another native Kentuckian in London, you earn a cookie. Sarah came over in September 2008 to earn a Master’s degree in International Politics and Human Rights, and enjoys working for a children’s charity in Kentish Town.

LLO: How long have you lived in London and where are you from originally?
SO:
I’m from a tiny village on the border of Kentucky and Illinois, smack middle in the bible belt, land of fried chicken and all things unhealthy. I came here in September 2008 and never looked back.

LLO: What’s the best thing about living in your postcode?
SO:
I live in Camden Town and madly love it! There’s always a store open late, always something going on, always the most unusual people hanging out. Plus, it’s well-connected enough that night buses from nearly all parts of the city roll through.

LLO: Favourite place to find a taste of home?
SO:
I miss great Mexican food from home, so La Perla in Covent Garden is pretty good when it comes to my Mexican cravings. Their Margaritas are to DIE for!

LLO: Best London “discovery”?
SO:
That it’s legal to drink in parks? Weeee! (See last question)

LLO: If I only had one day in London and wanted to spend it off the beaten track, where would you send me?
SO:
A Sunday roast (assuming the day is Sunday) at a pub in Kentish Town called the Pineapple or perhaps exploring Borough Market and ending with an evening bottle of wine at Gordon’s Wine bar..yes, not exactly unknown to London, but that’s what I envision FAR FAR away from Oxford Street.

LLO: Favourite pub, club or other place to spend a Saturday night?
SO:
I’m madly in love with Retro bar, a gay bar hidden in an alleyway next to Charring Cross.  You really have to search for it, but it’s classy, clean and has board game nights! Otherwise, The Black Heart is your typical indie pub in Camden, also hidden in an alleyway, that’s full of ‘misunderstood’ but exceptionally nice people. They serve pizzas named after the seven deadly sins and banana bread beer. Highly recommend both, as alleyway pubs are the way to go!

LLO: What’s the most random thing you’ve ever seen in London?
SO:
About 200 people dressed up in Santa costumes on a pub crawl in Camden. In January. They were a little late…

LLO: What’s the most interesting or unusual food you’ve eaten since moving to London and where did you go to eat it?
SO:
A couple weeks ago, I went to dim sum with friends and tried baby octopus, duck tongue, beef stomach and beef tongue. Everything was good except the duck tongue….ugh.

LLO: Most quirky or unusual place you’ve discovered in London?
SO:
I live in Camden, you want only one?! All I have to do is walk outside my flat and I see strange things everywhere. Especially in The World’s End.

LLO: Describe a perfect Spring day in the capital.
SO:
A sunny, windy day for a picnic on Primrose Hill with great friends. The lunch includes some amazing hummous, pita, cheeses and wine, and the wind is helpful in flying our infamous dolphin kite. Bring on the summer!

 

Thanks Sarah!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

London Art Spot: Christina Owen

  

This is Christina Owen: 26-year-old photographer and lover of Polaroids, her iPhone, taking pictures of herself in the mirror and interesting wallpaper, as you can see in her self-portrait down there. Self-taught, you’ll often see Christina breaking the “rules” of photography to come up with some unique shots and funky ideas for creative images. Her first experimental photos were taken in her own kitchen at the age of 21. Since then, she has worked all over the UK and travelled across America with an assortment of different cameras and an eye for colour and art found inside the mundane. She currently lives and works in good old London. 

Christina’s given up a bit of her time for this week’s London Art Spot to chat about the beauty of capturing simple moments before they are lost, exploring London with her camera and taking photos of strangers.  

Self Portrait, 2009   

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
CO:
Living in Penge (London outskirts) doesn’t really influence my creativity at all, but when I get the train or bus into the centre I can’t stop the ideas flowing. It’s mostly the stuff I see on the streets – graffiti and signposts and shop fronts and architecture. And interesting looking people. Those are the things that make me want to pick up my camera.   

LLO: What type of camera do you use?
CO:
I’ll use anything that happens to be in my hand. At the moment I’m using a Nikon D40 with a standard kit lens, which is all I can afford (anyone who wants to buy me a Canon EOS 50D feel free!) but I use my iPhone a lot – I’ve got about a million photography apps. My favourite turns phone cam photos into Polaroids. I used to be surgically attached to my Polaroid cameras before they became obsolete. My favourite that I’ve used was a Canon EOS 5D with 25-70mm L lens but it was so very very heavy. 

"Taken in San Diego - after driving past it three days in a row I made my friend drive me back there specially and wait round the corner for half an hour while I shot this gigantic wall from different angles. I wish I'd found out who the artist was. It bothers me that I don't know."

 Lennon, 2007 

LLO: Favourite place in London to take photos and why?
CO:
Along the south bank, I go there with my camera all the time. The graffiti and skaters underneath the Royal Festival Hall, and the skyline along the river, and the London Eye, and the street performers outside the National Theatre. And then you go along a bit further east to Butler’s Wharf and there’s some lovely architecture. Then a quick detour to take photographs of the food stalls in Borough Market, and finish it off with a trip to the Tate Modern or the Design Museum.

"Taken on the South Bank in London - Moments like these I'm proud of because they were split-seconds that would have been lost forever had I not pointed my camera at them at the right moment. "

Sarah Looks Up, 2008   

LLO: Describe your style.
CO:
Colourful, unconventional, odd. I’m drawn to colour like a moth to a flame. And I don’t really stick to the rules. I’m the one shooting straight into the sun, or waiting until my subject looks away before I take their picture. And I’d much rather take photographs of whats going on out on the street than inside the studio. 
 
LLO: Somewhere in London you’d love to take a camera but never have?
CO: The Square Mile. There’s so much history there, I’d love to take my camera round all the hidden little parks and churches and old streetsigns and brickwork. I just haven’t got round to it yet. 
 
 

"Myself and some friends were walking through the underpass that goes under the road at Baker St Tube station. One of them joked that it was the perfect setting for some sort of gritty urban photograph, so I took a picture of my friend attempting to somersault off one of the walls. It was never going to work but it was made all the funnier by him crashing headfirst into it, everyone else watching, and the fact that the resulting photograph does look quite gritty and 'street'. From now on I will always pretend this photo wasn't set up."

Ouch, 2010

LLO: You’ve started working on a project to capture 100 strangers. Tell us a bit about that.
CO:
 Someone who’d posed for the 100 Strangers project for somebody else told me about it. I’d never heard of it. There’s a group on Flickr you join and you photograph 100 people you’ve never previously met and post the photos there along with their story and any details about the person you/they want to include. The idea is that it gets you used to approaching people you don’t know as a photographer. It builds confidence. I’ve only done it twice so far and both times I was terrified. Although the first one was an old man in a suit sitting on a park bench, and he pretty much volunteered himself. He saw me with my camera and shouted ‘over here! Point that camera this way!’ Up until that point I hadn’t been sure how to start the project so it was perfect really.
 
 

"A comedian about to go on stage in front of a large audience."

Mental Preparation, 2007 

LLO: How did you first become interested in photography?
CO:
After I left University, I was at a loose end and started taking still life photographs around the house with my mum’s ancient Kodak camera. Noone told me I was any good at it, I just thought one day ‘yeah, that’s not bad if I do say so myself’ and gradually people started agreeing with me. I bought some books and taught myself how to do it. 
  
 

"I put a whole bunch of photos of my feet in different places around the world on display at an exhibition in Spitalfields, London, and people were walking up to them and staring for ages and then saying 'can you explain the significance of these?' I was like 'No. I would have thought it was obvious'. And they'd walk off shaking their head and saying it wasn't art. So I guess it wasn't obvious."

Exhibition Feet, 2008

LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
CO:
All my favourite London based artists are my friends. Very few of them have web sites of their own though which is infuriating – I can’t show you what they’ve done. I know photographs and fine artists and illustrators and digital animators and they’re all extremely talented. And of course, your photographs – can I include you? Is that allowed?
* Christopher Miller, Designer & Illustrator: http://www.kirkicdesign.com/index.htm
* David Stevenson, Illustrator and Animator: http://www.david-stevenson.com/
* Sheldon K. Goodman, Designer & Illustrator – http://www.sheldonkgoodman.daportfolio.com/
* Giada Garofalo, Photographer – http://www.flickr.com/photos/giadagarofalo/

LLO: Which image are you most proud of and why?
CO:
I can’t pick just one! I’m proud of so many of my photos for so many different reasons, but I’m always scared other people will look at them and go ‘why? Its a photo of your feet?’ I’m proud of some of the portraits I’ve taken because if I hadn’t pointed my camera at someone at exactly the right time, those moments would have been lost forever. I’m proud of the first ‘creative’ photograph I ever took, which was of some Ikea bottle stoppers in front of a skyline.

“The first photograph I took that I actually thought about first. It doesn’t look like much but to this day I still love it.”

Bottle Stoppers, 2005  
 

Thanks Christina!
 For more of Christina’s work, have a look at her Flickr page.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

 

A Wander Around Borough Market

Last Saturday, I decided to visit Borough Market, pick up some orange-stuffed olives and have a warming glass of mulled wine before the holiday season escapes completely and the mulled wine stalls disappear. The market is unique from other London markets because it only sells food – and some pretty unique choices and delicacies at that. (Ostrich, anyone?) It’s down near London Bridge, open Thursday – Saturday. If you go, I recommend a stop at Monmouth for coffee and dinner at Brindisa (a Spanish tapas restaurant near London Bridge station – you can’t book a table, but it’s worth the wait!)

Here’s a few photos from the market:

Check out their website for a list of traders, events and open hours.