West Ham Game

My dad is a West Ham fan. He was around when West Ham’s Bobby Moore led England to win the 1966 Wold Cup. These things get passed on through families, which people teasingly love to say is unfortunate for me. I have a West Ham scarf in my bedroom back in New York and my brother and I were able to see a few games when we came over to England as kids. They sing the song above in support of the Hammers. It goes like this:

I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune’s always hiding,
I’ve looked everywhere,
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

So we went to a game while he was over last week – West Ham v Coventry. My main experience with professional sport in the States is going to see our beloved Buffalo Sabres ice hockey games. The comparison is interesting. First of all, you would never catch a stadium of hockey fans singing a song together. Chanting, definitely, but not singing. The Americans have all the bells and whistles, the flashy light shows, the pre-game and interval entertainment, the organ player, the singing of the anthems, the massive fancy arenas, the giant jumbotron where everything that is said is sponsored by so and so and the prize giveaways. The Brits have more heart though. They are die-hard supporters of their teams in a different way than Americans are. They don’t need all the excess to go out and have a brilliant time at a game. It’s all about the football.

I thought I’d share a few photos I took the other day. It was an exciting, sold-out game with plenty of (mainly missed) opportunity but West Ham won 1-0.

Are you guys football fans? Who do you support? Any good stories? 

Clip from the movie about West Ham – Green Street Hooligans:

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Listen to a Londoner: Paul McConnell

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Paul McConnell

Paul is a born and bred londoner. Having lived in Central London his whole life, he spent his childhood within a 15 minute walking distance of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. His favourite thing to do in London or anywhere else is to hang out with his friends on a Saturday afternoon watching the football, or spend it with his lovely fiancee going around all the markets and shops.

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, how has the city changed since your childhood? Anything you miss?
PM: The city has changed a ton. There is a lot more diversity now, with many different cultures, and its made london more of a melting pot. You really can get anything you like from any culture in the world in london.

LLO:Which part of the city are you most familiar with and what’s the best thing about it?
PM: I’m most familiar with central london as I’ve grown up within walking distance from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. My favourite part of London is the Southbank and all the bridges that cross the thames – so relaxing and beautiful.

LLO: Best London discovery?
PM: Great family run Italian restaurant near Notting Hill called Ffionas. You have to be there early though because they only have 8 tables.

LLO: If you’re in the mood for some last minute live music, which venues would you check first to see what’s on?
PM: Brixton Academy have shows all the time where you can always pick up tickets on the day, or if you walk through Camden you’re sure to find something you like.

LLO: Tell us about a memorable moment that could only have happened in London.
PM: It has a be a marathon weekend which consisted of 3 live football matches, 3 nights out clubbing and about 3 hours sleep during all 3 days.

LLO: Know of any great little hole-in-the-wall pubs, restaurants or coffee shops that are worth stopping by?
PM: The Black Horse just behind Oxford Street is a great pub, great food, all fresh the same day.

LLO: If you were to leave London in the near future, what 5 things (people not included) would you miss the most about the city?
PM: 1.) Arsenal football club 2.) The London Eye (near where i proposed to my fiancee) 3.) Being able to hear Big Ben on a quiet night from my house 4.) Fish and chip shop on Sutherland Street in Pimlico (best fish and chips on earth) 5.) My mum’s roast dinner

LLO: Best pub to watch your favourite football team on match day?
PM: Either the Barley Mow in Vauxhall or Victoria’s Sports bar above Victoria station

LLO: What about a great venue to go watch some live sport (not necessarily football!)?
PM: Wembley or the Emirates Stadium, or Battersea Power Station where they have live festivals, extreme sports/extreme Winter sports.

LLO: Share a random London fact that not many people would know.
PM: The actual City of London is only 1 square mile. All other major roads such as Oxford Street, Piccadilly and Regent Street actually come under “The City of Westminster”.

Even though being the sovereign of The UNITED KINGDOM, Her Majesty the Queen is not allowed to enter the City of London with seeking the permission of its Lord Mayor.

Thanks Paul!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

London Art Spot: Perry Sullivan

Not for innocent eyes, Perry sullivan draws on themes of sexuality, human form and politics to create a body of work that sometimes has a shock value with that can’t-peel-your-eyes-away sort of appeal. Some are disturbing, some may be offensive, but his goal is to draw on real bits of life that people can relate to rather than pretentious conceptual art that’s not always so easy to understand.

Perry is a master of line, light, shadow and form that gives life to the figures in his paintings. He will be showing them off at the Brick Lane Gallery until tomorrow so there’s still time to pop in.

For this week’s London Art Spot, he’s answered all of my (sometimes cheeky two-part) questions about his goal to make traditional figure painting appeal to a more contemporary audience, shares one of the most memorable comments from a buyer and of course gives us an eyeful of images to get a real feel for his work.

LLO: Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity?
PS:
The history. When I go to galleries and museums I think of all the people who have been a part of the city’s culture and I am pleased to be part of that in some small way.

LLO:  There’s sexuality, human form, some religious and mythological elements… Talk us through some of the common themes that flow through your work.
PS:
I would like to think the common theme in my work is humour. Being British I love to take the piss and there is a great deal of tounge in cheek in my work. I started to copy superheros from comic books as a kid. I think if I wasn’t a painter I’d be a cartoonist as I love to have a pop at deserving targets such as celebs, bankers, footballers, the church, politicians, etc. These are themes I return to time and again in my work.

LLO: If we wanted to walk around a recent exhibition of your work with an iPod, which songs would you recommend as a soundtrack to complement the mood of the show?
PS:
The Banana Splits Theme

LLO: You say you want to revive traditional figure painting and bring it into the contemporary world. How do you approach your work with this goal in mind? Which elements are most important to accomplish this?
PS:
Hang on, that’s two questions. Do I get extra brownie points or somthing? I set out to make my work say something to people who may feel that art is just people pushing paint about and slaping themselves on the back for doing so. (Frieze Art Fair). I want them to be able to connect with the painting in a real way, to know what it is they’re looking at and then go on to see deeper into the work. I think that once again humour is a helpful element and of course sex.

LLO: Do you have a muse?
PS:
Me. Sorry, did you mean someone I adore who fills me with love, hope, energy and light? Still me I am afraid.

LLO: One of your other interests is books. What are you reading now? Do you find that what you’re reading tends to have any influence on your artwork?
PS:
At this moment I am reading my Open University coursework as I am just about to start on my history degree. Just wanted to do something fun. You would think I’d say a Nigella Lawson cookbook looking at my work. But apart from those early years reading comics I don’t think what I read (outside Saturday’s Guardian) has any effect on my work.

LLO: Which painting are you most proud of right now and why?
PS:
The last one I did for the Brick Lane show called ‘Lest We Remember’. I am proud of it not because of the painting as such, but of the style. I was running out of time if I wanted to get it in the show so I put the paint on quicker and looser when I realized it had a real freshness and energy. I felt that I was in charge of the paint and it was going to do what I damn well wanted it to do as there was no time for debate. I love Rembrant’s work as it got looser and looser and I thought to myself ‘I get it’. You can’t see a photo of it just yet as it’s still in the exhibition but if you get down to the Brick Lane Gallery before Oct 4th you can see it in the flesh.

LLO: What has been the most memorable comment you’ve had about your paintings? Did you agree with it?
PS:
“How much? You robbing bastard!” No really, it was at one of my exhibitions when a woman came up to me after looking at my piece ‘Soft Cell’ and with tears in her eyes said “Thats how I feel”. Well what could i say? She brought the painting. Don’t think I didn’t notice this question as well as number six was also in two parts. Iam going to put in for overtime here.

LLO: Are there any other London-based artists you admire?
PS:
Luican Freud (is he still alive?)

LLO: What are you working on now?
PS: I am working on a still life called ‘The Beautiful Game’, it’s about corruption, greed and sex within football. So rich pickings there.

Thanks Perry!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Wilfredo Arturo Diaz Ardila

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Wilfredo Arturo Diaz Ardila, 32

Wilfredo comes from a small town called Mogotes near Bucaramanga in Santander, Colombia. He talks to us for this week’s Listen to a Londoner about his life in the UK, where to find a Colombian experience in London and about a product called panela that he plans to import from home.

LLO: How long have you been in London and what brought you here originally?
WD:
I have been in London for almost 3 years. I came here for studying English and to do a master diploma in civil engineering which I just finished. Now I would like to work in London as a civil engineer and begin the importation of a product called panela from our family business in Colombia.

LLO: How does life in London compare to life in Colombia?
WD:
It took me almost one year to adapt to life in London, for the weather (in Colombia there are no seasons), the different food and different cultures. It was difficult to make good friends because everyone is always working or studying and don’t have time for friends. I miss my family and my friends. In Colombia I spend a lot of time with family and friends at the weekend having barbeques, playing football, dancing, eating out in restaurants. I’m impressed with the culture in London, the architecture and the history.

LLO: Favourite place to go dancing to Latin American music in London?
WD:
The Cuban in Camden Market, Salsa! on Charing Cross Road and Floridita in Soho.

LLO: Best place in London for a taste of authentic Colombian food?
WD:
Leños & Carbón on Rockingham Street in Elephant and Castle and The Latin Corner pub on Camden Road.

LLO: You were talking about your sugar cane plantation in Colombia where your family produces panela, a product that you plan to help import to sell in London. What is panela?
WD:
Panela is a product that is made with sugar cane, grown under the Colombian sun. It’s 100% natural and unrefined. It’s made in different presentations – compact in the shape of a square or circle or in powder form. My family has been producing this product for over 10 years with a team of 15-20 employees on our farm.

LLO: How is it used?
WD:
You can use it to make juice, cakes, sweeten tea and coffee. It’s a more natural substitute for more refined sugar.

LLO: Can you share a few photos of the production process and explain how it is made?
WD:
The first step is preparing the ground to grow the sugar cane on the plantation. Growing the sugar cane takes between 15 and 20 months depending on the type of plant. The plants are cut and transported to the factory to be processed. The sugar cane is passed through a machine where it is crushed and the juice is separated and cleaned through a filter. The juice flows through a series of three huge containers where it is boiled in each one growing thicker each time and changes to a slightly different colour. Then it is passed through more containers where it continues to thicken and the air is stirred out. It’s transferred into moulds where it sets for half hour into a solid form. When the product cools, it is packaged and ready to sell.



LLO: Where’s your favourite shop in London to pick up Colombian products you miss from home?
WD:
There’s a small shop in Elephant and Castle shopping centre that has cereals, beans, arepas, saltines, milo and different tropical fruits I use to make juice, yuca and plantains.

LLO: What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome since moving to the UK?
WD:
I think it is the English. I didn’t know any English when I arrived in London. I started studying in a beginner course. Getting the post study work visa I have now was difficult too.

LLO: Best London discovery?
WD:
Mi novia!

Thanks Wilfredo!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

If you have or know of a company interested in stocking panela imported from Wilfredo’s family farm, email him at wdiaz_29@hotmail.com.