Taking advantage of Lambeth Council’s SpaceMakers project, Carole Evans set up a photo booth in Brixton Market. Her recent project and collection, Brixton People, was a hit. Her photography has been featured all over London and abroad over the past few tears and she has, among other projects, participated in a portraiture workshop with attRAct, the youth arts programme for the Royal Academy of Arts.
Carole’s interest in photography spreads to vintage cameras as well. In 2008, along with a friend, she co-founded Photomovette, an organization dedicated to bringing back the old fashioned chemical photobooth, with four flashes and four poses. Soon the first one will be in the public domain for all to use…www.photomovette.co.uk
For this week’s London Art Spot, Carole shares her experience working on Brixton People, talks about a disastrous photoshoot that turned out some brilliant results in the end and shows us some photos of people who live, work, or hang out in SW9.
LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
CE: I suppose it’s the variety of people who live here, the opportunities there are to see different types of art forms, and the fact that there are many creative people here who have similar ideas to me. I thrive off talking to other photographers and artists; and hearing what other people are doing can be very inspiring.
Another aspect is the smaller underground scenes that exist in London… for a couple of years now I have been dancing the jive and rock ‘n’ roll, which has opened up a part of London which stuck in the 1950’s. People are not scared to be different in London; and that in itself is inspiring.
LLO: Your latest project is “Brixton People”, also featured as a solo show in Brixton Village. Tell us a bit about the project.
CE: Brixton People was a response to a call out for submissions for use of empty units in Brixton market. An agency called SpaceMakers had struck up a deal with Lambeth Council; in an attempt to regenerate an empty and derelict part of Brixton Market, the Granville Arcade, they wanted to get creative businesses into empty units rent-free, for a maximum of 3 months. They were encouraging small term art projects, so I applied with my idea of a pop-up studio, and was granted a unit at the end of January.
The idea was simple; I set up a photography studio in the space, and invited passers-by to be photographed. I wanted to create an archive of the people of Brixton, a record of this vibrant and diverse community. Each evening I would print some of the images I had taken that day, and pin them up around the studio. So an exhibition of the work evolved during the week.
LLO: How did people react to being approached for photographs?
CE: The response was overwhelming. Overall I took 200 portraits. I had said to myself at the beginning of the week if I got 50 I’d be happy! Rarely did people refuse to be photographed. Printing the work as I was going meant people could see exactly what style it was, and what was going to happen with the image.
At the end of the project, I emailed all the participants with a link to web gallery where they could see their picture. I got some lovely replies back; people were really pleased to be part of the project.
LLO: Tell us the story about one of the most interesting people you’ve met and share a photo of that person.
CE: I met so many interesting people throughout the project that I couldn’t possibly single one out. What was amazing for me was being part of the market community for a week; the traders look out for one another and help one another; it’s a great atmosphere and they made me feel very welcome.
LLO: What’s the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome to capture a great photograph?
CE: Nerves. Taking photographs of people, especially strangers, was nerve-racking for me at first. But the more you do it the easier it gets. I began to realize that it doesn’t matter if people say no, they are entitled to their privacy and their rebuke is nothing personal.
LLO: Which photo are you most proud of to date and why?
CE: Actually I think it’s one that I did for a hair stylist. I had convinced him that, in order to keep costs down, we could do the shoot on location instead of a studio. Typically, the day we chose happened to be the wettest day of the year; not ideal for any photo shoot but especially not a hair shoot!
After a whole day of somewhat failed attempts, I managed to get permission to shoot in a very cool retro fish and chip shop, which really suited the model’s look. I am especially proud of the shot of the model by the window, as it appears that he is bathed in a warm evening light… but my poor assistant was standing in the rain outside holding a speedlight. I am proud of it because I think technically it’s good, and to have overcome all those obstacles and finally come up with something great at the end of the day was very satisfying!
LLO: Tell us about your ongoing Valentines Day project.
CE: I was inspired to start this 4 years ago, when I was single. I just remember noticing how many people were carrying bunches of flowers on Valentine’s Day. I was kind of amazed at the power of advertising and consumerism that dictated to us all that that was what we gave our loved one on this particular day. So the next year I began photographing it. My idea has changed since, though. Instead of the project being a kind of critique of the consumerism of Valentine’s Day, it is a recognition of flowers as a token of love. I like the expressions of the people; anxiety, anticipation, excitement…
LLO: Which other London-based photographers do you admire
CE: Nick Turpin is a street photographer who also shoots advertising and is a great influence to me, both in his manner of shooting and his energy! Portrait photographers such as Nadav Kander and Jim Naughten, and many of my friends who are working really hard in this difficult industry! Sophie Mitchell, Manuel Capurso, Adrian Wood, David Axelbank to name but a few…
LLO: Favourite place in London to take your camera?
CE: I don’t really have a favourite place… I work on series so I rarely go out with my camera to shoot. And if I do, it’s the people who interest me rather than the place.
LLO: What are you working on now?
CE: I am working on a series of portraits, focusing on one of the underground scenes in London. I kind of want to keep it under my hat for now, as it’s still only the beginning and I’m just a little superstitious about talking about something which hasn’t been completed yet!
For more of Carole’s work, check out her website: http://www.caroleevans.co.uk/
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Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email email@example.com. Always looking for new volunteers.
Chris Holt, 44
Chris Holt is a former journalist and anti-poverty campaigner who now teaches yoga, mainly in south London. Since moving to London in 1994, she has lived in Bow, Bloomsbury, Clapham, Brixton and Streatham.
She tweets as @brixtonyoga.
LLO: Having grown up in the Midlands and held jobs from journalist to anti-poverty campaigner to barmaid to fruit picker, how did you end up in London as a yoga instructor?
CH: I’ve kept following my curiosity. Started off wondering what other people were like – and found out a bit being a journalist asking questions. Then wanted to know more about why the world’s the way it is – so spent some years seeing life in developing countries working for an aid agency. And now I’m going inwards, looking after the one body I’ve got for this life, and exploring whether I’m anything beyond it?
LLO: I’ve seen people practising outdoor yoga everywhere from Hyde Park to a nook behind Liverpool Street Station and even in Trafalgar Square. Where’s your favourite outdoor yoga spot in London?
CH: I love practising yoga outdoors, best of all on a beach or hillside looking out to sea. As that’s a bit tricky in London, I make do with my back garden or somewhere like Brockwell Lido where at least you’re looking out onto either trees or water. I’m really looking forward to the yoga holiday I’m running in France in September, because we can practise in an open-sided barn looking out over beautiful countryside.
LLO: What are some other London activities that you enjoy when you’re looking for peace of mind?
CH: Art galleries, theatre at the Donmar Warehouse or National Theatre, dance at Sadlers Wells, performance poetry at South Bank or Apples and Snakes events – not always for immediate peace of mind, but at least to get the creative juices flowing, which I need to thrive.
LLO: What’s the best part about living in your postcode?
CH: SW2 for the madness of Brixton Road, the friendliness of neighbours, the views from Brockwell Park, the resurgence of Brixton Market, and the number of amazing, interesting people you meet – it is definitely NOT mainstream.
LLO: Best London shop to buy yoga gear?
CH: I confess to being a favourite T-shirt and leggings kind of yoga teacher – it’s not really about what you’re wearing; it’s more about how it makes you feel inside.
LLO: I see on your yoga retreat to France this coming September you’ll be eating organic, vegetarian food with the group you’re taking. What are your favourite vegetarian restaurants in London and the best places to buy organic foods?
CH: I get all my organic veg, fruit and milk delivered by the wonderful Ged, who runs Riverford organic boxes in Lambeth and Southwark. Most interesting restaurant (not strictly veggie – but great) is Brixton Cornercopea in Brixton Market – everything grown, made or sourced locally, including things like courgette fritters, watercress, feta and pea salad & summer fruit pudding.
LLO: You work in Brixton a lot. What’s the best place in the area to sip a relaxing morning coffee with friends?
CH: For comfy sofas and good music, The Lounge on Atlantic Road; for a quiet read of the paper overlooking the bustle of Brixton Road, Cafe Nero in Morley’s department store, but for the absolutely best coffee in Brixton, Federation Coffee in Brixton Market – with plantain cake to die for.
LLO: Favourite place in London to catch some live music and why?
CH: With two small kids, my gigging days are a bit sparse, but when I make it, I like more intimate venues such as the Jazz Cafe in Camden. Really want to try the Hideaway that’s recently opened in Streatham and getting rave reviews.
LLO: Have you found a place in London – other than your home – that always makes you happy?
CH: The views from Westminster or Waterloo Bridges; or the first room on your right as you go in the National Gallery for Cezanne, Gaugin, Van Gogh – and no queues.
LLO: Describe your perfect London day.
CH: Yoga, art, perhaps a good book and some time alone to wander and explore – after more than 15 years in London, I’m still discovering it.
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Rosie’s Deli, Brixton Market
Iris James’ caption: “This inspires me to a.) start eating at local deli’s and b.) open my own cake shop. I would buy the cake from Sainsburys though, because I can’t bake.”
If you have your own London area photos to contribute, add ’em to the pool.