If you’ve got tea drinking pics for the new Little Look at London section, post em in the pool.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.
Armed with our cameras and M&S carry bags full of bread, olives, cheese, fruit, chocolate and drinks, D and I sat on the cool grass in Holland Park after work to play catch up in our busy lives. A beautiful Spring night and flowers in full bloom. Holland Park has to be one of the most serene escapes from central London, sprawling (though not as much as Hyde Park and certainly nowhere near as large as Hampstead Heath or Richmond Park), yet properly maintained and beautiful. Quite often in the summertime people are outside among the flowers having wedding photos taken. Even this night, we were certainly not alone in photo-taking or picnicing. Here’s a few for the atmosphere:
This year started off well for Emli Bendixen as she was short-listed for Professional Photographer of the Year Award 2009. With a long list of clients like Wonderland, Vice and Dazed and Confused and a fascinating portfolio of images, this North London-based photographer – who was born in South Korea and grew up in Denmark – has the passion and vision to go far in her career.
For this week’s London Art Spot, she tells us about her approach to photography on a recent trip to India, where we can find a taste of Korean and Danish food in London and about some of the capital’s interesting locations to take a camera.
LLO: How did you end up in London and how long have you lived here?
EB: I first moved to London aged 19 after finishing school in Denmark. Being from a small town, I couldn’t wait to move to the city. I later went off to Glasgow and then to Copenhagen for university before returning to London where I have been ever since. I’ve lived in Shepherds Bush, Kennington, Old Street, Dalston, Stoke Newington and now Crouch End.
LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
EB: First and foremost it gives me access to some really exciting people. I’m curious and inquisitive by nature – and I can think of few places better than London to keep you stimulated and with so much to look at.
LLO: You’re from a Korean/Danish background. Where’s the best place in London to find a taste of Korean or Danish culture?
EB: To be honest, I haven’t looked into either much. I’m here to check out all the other bits of culture that are different to mine… Although not entirely Danish, I do love the food at Elk in the Woods in Angel; and the Scandinavian bakery in Golden Square. For Korean food there are a couple of excellent places just next to Centre Point – and I really like Dong San in Poland Street.
LLO: Twitter tells me you went to India over Christmas and Flickr shows you brought back some great photos. Tell us a bit about your trip and the photos you took while you were there?
EB: I went to Kerala in the South. It was an incredible experience. I was very aware of being a tourist, with a Western background, with a camera. I noticed that this role in relation to the people I photographed tinted my photographs with something not quite real – at best something very self-conscious, so I decided to break this process and instead forced myself to focus more on general impressions, the little and the big things… the view from our homestay in Periyar, our taxi driver from Munnar, and the dog that followed us down the beach in Varkala…The result is more personal – I suppose much like a diary – in that I spoke to almost everyone I photographed and walked the same mountains you see in my pictures. The food photography was part of a separate food diary, which my girlfriend was writing.
LLO: Which piece are you most proud of and why?
EB: A portrait called Harmony.
LLO: Favourite place in London to take your camera?
EB: The city is full of exciting locations – I’ve shot in pubs, clubs, warehouses, studios and council flats; next week I’m shooting in a friend’s house in Finsbury Park that’s in the middle of being renovated. Although I mainly shoot indoors at the moment, I love Hampstead Heath and Abney Park in Stoke Newington.
LLO: Your largest set on Flickr is called “Faces”. What do you try to capture when you’re shooting a portrait and where do you find your models?
EB: More often than not, I ask people I know to sit for me. What is most interesting for me in taking a picture is capturing some part of that person which may not usually be on display; so it’s about going beyond what immediately meets the eye. Again, it’s about curiosity… I just want to know a little bit more than I did the moment before that picture was taken.
LLO: What type of camera and lens do you use?
EB: I normally use a Canon 450D and recently a Canon 1DS Mark III; also a Diana F+, a Holga, and a Minolta XD7.
LLO: Your client list already includes Dazed and Confused, Vice and Professional Photographer Magazine. Who is your dream client and why?
EB: I would love to work for The Guardian and The Times; Monocle and Intelligent Life are also high on my list. I’m also keen to shoot more music photography – I’ve done press shots for bands such as Robots in Disguise for a couple of years which has been a great challenge and definitely something I want to get more into. I suppose generally I would be happy shooting portraits and lifestyle images that allow for a personal and aesthetic approach.
For more of Emli’s work, check out her website: www.emli.dk/photography.html
For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.
Photo of Alicia Clarke by Annick Wolfers
It comes as no surprise that Alicia’s dance photography bursts with energy, momentum, movement. Only one who has felt her own body reach its limits this way would be able to portray in a single still shot the flexibility, endurance and perfection of form that are within the body’s capabilities.
Born in Birmingham in 1975, Alicia moved to London nearly a decade ago to pursue her career. She started as an assistant, moved through the ranks as in-house photographer for Northern & Shell publishing followed by a stint as Managing Editor on Happy magazine which eventually led her to become the freelancer she is today.
For this week’s London Art Spot, Alicia gave up a bit of her time to talk to us about intertwining her passions for dance and photography, how assisting on Page 3 shoots for The Sun has influenced her current photographic study of femininity and tell us when to next catch her performing burlesque as her alter ego Cici Darling.
Audrey Doklan, Dancer
LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
AC: That depends on whether the sun is shining or not! At its best, London is a hotpot of everything inspiring and influential. I truly believe that whatever you want to do, whoever you want to be, it can happen in London. It’s been my home for nearly 10 years and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I recently moved to Deptford and it’s got such a fantastic arts scene, loads of small galleries, artists’ studios, vintage stores and little cafes, but co-existing with the grungy old crazy Deptford and all its kooky characters! It’s never boring! Sometimes London is just too much though. So much going on, too fast, hard to keep up, I need to take a breather and disappear off to the sea to empty my head. I always want to come home though!
LLO: Favourite place to take your camera in London?
AC: I’m not much of a street photographer, always feel I’m intruding on people, so I guess my favourite place to take my camera at the moment is when I go and photograph burlesque nights for my friends. I get in free, get to see lots of acts and get inspiration for my own performance. And I meet interesting people who I might arrange to photograph later for my personal projects.
LLO: Do you remember the moment you fell in love with photography? How has your style evolved since then?
AC: I do remember the exact moment – funny isn’t it? I was 7-years-old at the most and for some reason my Great Uncle handed me a cheap plastic camera and I fell totally in love with it, pottering around my back garden photographing the flowers. I would hope my style has evolved since then! When you put a frame around the world you’re effectively editing out the bits you don’t want, but nowadays I quite like being in the studio and controlling exactly what is put in instead. We’ve all become so image savvy these days that I want to be really careful about what I put into my images, whilst accepting that we all bring our own histories to a reading of an image so I have to relinquish control at some point!
LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
AC: I completely love Cecily Brown’s paintings – is she still based in London? Kind of abstract erotic, really thick sensual paint that you really want to jump into and immerse yourself in and then you realise its a picture of an orgy! Different people for different reasons really. I like Anderson & Lowe’s beautiful bodies and their melancholic circus pictures. My friend Rachel Warne does beautiful flower photography – she makes me interested in a genre that normally doesn’t stir me. I’m always jealous of my brother’s travel photography and for over a decade have been wishing I’d taken the pictures that dance photographer Hugo Glendinning takes. Another friend Lottie Davies (who photographed me for the winning image ‘Quints’ at the Taylor Wessing Prize 2008) inspires me in her bravery and certainty in her image-making.
Charlotte Wheeler, Dancer
LLO: In your work for See You Next Tuesday, you’re “using men to enact ‘visualities’…to explore the idea of woman as mask”. Can you explain what this means and how you’re using photography to reach this goal?
AC: This is based on a Lacanian psychoanalytic theory that postulates that there is no such thing as ‘woman’ other than what is put on the outside of the body – that there is no essential femininity, it is merely a masquerade. I wanted to explore this hypothesis using men, attempting to locate ‘woman’ through the props we’ve come to associate daily with femininity. You can see from the pictures that they fail, that woman cannot be found through such stereotypical details, however I still can’t find where ‘woman’ might be and how she might be represented. Tricky huh?! I can trace back the origin of this work to being in a tranny bar in San Francisco and realising that all the guys had their labels sticking out of the backs of their dresses, they’d slipped up in the details their masquerade… I also used to work as a photographer’s assistant on shoots for The Sun’s ‘Page 3’ and when the girls went home after the shoot there would be all this left over bits of pretend woman lying around – broken false nails, pulled-out blonde hair extensions, smeared fake tan, false eyelashes and skimpy knickers – it fascinated me. I recently started performing as a burlesque dancer so this reignited the interest in representations of women and their bodies…
Gabriel Prokofiev, composer
LLO: You studied dance for many years. How does this experience influence the way you approach your photography? Do you look at movement of the human body differently as a dance photographer than as a dancer?
AC: When I’m dancing, I’m feeling movement, its ebb and flow and I can feel the strength and the fragility of my body moving through space. The job of the dance photographer is to somehow capture and communicate that in a single frozen image, to convey how it might feel to be the dancer. I love using the possibilities inherent in the camera (long shutter speeds, etc) to show motion in time, but I also like to reveal that moment when the body reaches the perfect point in the movement and freeze it there. I get so excited when I’m shooting dancers, I want to be them, I want to be able to do what they are doing, I want that relationship with my body.
Mari Frogner at Laban Centre, Dancer
LLO: What kind of camera, lens, kit, etc. do you use?
AC: I recently sold my old Hasselblad and it was a very sad moment, but I’m a digital convert. I shoot on a Canon 5d Mark 2, with L series lenses. I use Bowens lighting usually, but for high speed flash for freezing movement, I hire in Profoto lights which have a shorter flash duration. I always shoot RAW to give me the freedom to develop the images creatively later on – like shooting negative film. I found a load of old transparencies I shot of live performance recently. I must have been mad! It was a good learning curve but I want to be thinking about the image itself, not the technicalities when I’m shooting…
LLO: How did you work your way through the industry to eventually become a freelance photographer?
AC: By working very long hours for several years for hardly any money! I moved to London to work as a full-time photographer’s assistant, and whilst my high earning flatmates lived the high life, I slept on their floor, exhausted by the long hours, getting further into debt. I loved it though – I felt that I was the lucky one! Melvyn Vincent, the guy who employed me, was so supportive, inspiring and nurturing, I had a bit of a shock when I went freelance and realised the industry was so full of divas! I eventually ended up as the in-house photographer for Northern & Shell Publishing, shooting celebrities for them, but it wasn’t really for me. I’m more interested in real life and scratching below the surface. And I’m totally obsessed with dance photography too!
LLO: As your alter ego Cici Darling, you have been a burlesque dancer for the past few years. Where are the best places to check out the burlesque scene in London?
AC: I started out performing at the Tournament of Tease at Bethnal Green Working Mens Club which is a launch night for new acts – I’d recommend it, they do male and female burlesque. Volupte, a supperclub in Holborn is well-established and a fun night out, and Proud Cabaret in the city has recently opened to really good reviews. The London Burlesque Week is coming up too in April, organised by Chaz Royal. I’m performing at the VIP awards & closing party at Cafe de Paris – come and see me!
LLO: Which photo are you most proud of and why?
AC: I don’t know why I like this picture so much, but I do. Isn’t that a great thing about photography? It’s communicating to you beyond words… He’s showing off and performing to the camera, dressed halfway between being Russell and his alter ego Russella, but there’s this sensitivity and vulnerability there. He’s feeling empowered by his make-up and the part transformation, but he’s still the contemplative boy from his real life…
For more of Alicia’s work, check out her website: www.aliciaclarke.com/
For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.