London Street Food

One thing I will certainly miss when I leave London is the incredible choice of street food from all over the world, particularly in the markets around Camden and Brick Lane.

There’s a choice of Ethiopian, Brazillian, Peruvian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Burmese, Mexican, French, Greek, Moroccan, South African, Jamaican, Sri Lankan, Indian and just about anything else you can imagine.

Here’s a few snapshots of the vendors and food on offer around Brick Lane to get your mouth watering:

Brick Lane Street Food

Japanese Food Vendor

Brick Lane Street Food 2

Brick Lane Street Food 3

Brick Lane Street Food 4

Jerk Chicken

African Food Vendor

London Art Spot: Patricia Vidal Delgado

Photo of Patricia above is courtesy of professional photographer, Ambra Vernuccio.

Meet Patricia from Portugal who speaks five languages and learned to pole-dance especially for her art: film-making. She’s studied in London, Jerusalem and Lisbon. She’s interned in London, Lisbon and Rio de  Janeiro. She’s held a residency in Morocco and exhibited her work in Stuttgart, Budapest, Zürich and, of course, London and Lisbon. She can’t keep away from London and if you read on below, you’ll find out why.

Patricia’s work reaches an international audience, not just for its movement in the world, but because she explores important subjects that touch people around the world. For this week’s London Art Spot, Patricia delves into the topics that have inspired her film-making, tells us about a new double-screen projection she’s working on and shares a few video stills and clips that she’s made available just for us.

Soundbite – Click to download:  NESIA

LLO:You’re originally from Portugal but have spent quite a lot of time living, studying and working in London. Which aspects of life in this city most influence your creativity and in which way?
PVD: I think that living in London makes me more adventurous in my creative endeavours. You can do anything you want here. For example, when I wanted to learn how to pole-dance for my ‘Monument’ performance-piece, I found that there were over 100 pole-dancing class venues in Central London alone. When I started to become interested in the idea of real-time live animation, after some research I found several London-based artists’ organisations that work with this type of technology. I then liaised with Bruno Martelli at Igloo, in order to talk about possible configurations for an interactive video installation.

LLO: Briefly describe your approach to film – the most important subjects for you to capture, the progression of an idea, etc.
PVD: This depends… It depends on whether I already have an idea in mind before I start shooting, or if I don’t have a definite idea in mind and I’m just shooting for the joy of it. I’m certainly drawn to certain images but at the time that I’m shooting them I won’t know why I’m so attracted to them. I think that part of the process of making art is understanding why, as an artist, you’re so drawn to the images that you keep finding yourself gravitating towards.

LLO: Roland Barthes’ book, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments has influenced your work Black Sand. Are you often inspired by literature? If so, which other pieces have motivated you to create? What else inspires you?
PVD: I am often inspired by literature. Sometimes I’ll start working on a film and then I’ll read around the themes of the film in order to flesh out my ideas – which is what happened with ‘Black Sand’. Or sometimes I’ll read a book first and find myself profoundly shaken by it. The first time I experienced that was with Jorge Amado’s ‘Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos’ (English Title – Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands), when Vadinho says to Dona Flor:

‘Tua mãe é uma velha coroca, não sabe que na vida só vale o amor e a amizade. O resto é tudo pinóia, é tudo presunção, não paga a pena…’
‘Your mother is an old hag, she doesn’t know that love and friendship are the only things that matter in life. The rest is all worthless, its all vanity, its not worth it…’

And this statement really hit me on the head, and whenever I write or make work about love or relationships (i.e Black Sand) I’m torn apart by the hypothesis that, if it IS an absolute truth that love is the only thing that matters in life, then its also true that you can’t live on love alone and, therefore, no matter what choice you make regret is inevitable.

Music often inspires me as well – I’ll listen to a song and it’ll get under my skin and circulate in my blood and it won’t leave me alone until I’ve re-created it in my art. This happened with Clara Nunes’ ‘Ternura Antiga’, which tormented me until I used it in my sound-piece entitled ‘Mermaid’.

LLO: On your website, you write, “Girl with Gun developed from my interest in the psychological and archetypal aspects of the phallic female.” Can you elaborate on this statement and tell us a bit about this film?
PVD: I’ll start with the psychological aspects first – I first came across the figure of the phallic female in Freud’s writings, where he talks about the phallic mother. Prior to the traumatic realisation that sets off the castration complex in the young boy, the child assumes that everyone possesses a set of genitals like his own and so, by inference, believes his mother to possess a phallus as well. Therefore, the phallic female is a product of male fantasy that stems from the young boy’s blissful ignorance of sexual difference.

Lacan also refers to ‘phallic women’ as women that display masculine characteristics and/or behaviour. In Renata Salecl’s writings, she refers to a woman suffering from hysteria as a ‘phallic woman’, because the female hysteric will not accept the terms of her castration. This feeds into feminist theory because 1st wave feminism reclaimed the female hysteric as a figure of female resistance to the patriarchy, precisely because she does not perceive herself as castrated and therefore weak.

In terms of archetypal aspects, Marina Warner has hypothesized that the goddess Athena was the first phallic female, because she was “the defender of father-right (…) the upholder of patriarchy” and was born directly from Zeus’ head. She is a virgin goddess that channels the power of the Phallus, but as an asexual female eunuch she does not ‘desire’ the Phallus and therefore poses no threat of castration.

In ‘Girl with Gun’ I sought to embody the figure of the phallic female in order to play with the psychological signifiers and archetypal guises that make up the many layers of her persona. Ultimately I wanted to explode the dichotomy of the phallic aggressor and the castrated victim, in order to move beyond such insidious politics.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
PVD: The piece I’m most proud of is my video installation, ‘Coming to Term’. In this piece I talk about my father’s illness and death, and although I acknowledge that it is very raw, and somewhat relentless, and sometimes very cruel, I speak from experience when I say that watching a loved one die from cancer is also very cruel and there’s no other way to talk about that situation. The only way that I could accept that loss was to deal with it in my art, and I hope that it helps others that have lost family members to cancer.

LLO: You’ve mastered Portuguese, English, French and Spanish and are working on learning Hebrew as well. What are your thoughts on the effect of language on a film? Is the language it is presented in originally important or is your work easily translated?
PVD: I think that language certainly ‘flavours’ a film, in the sense that it constitutes a cultural signifier in itself, which in turn can convey exoticism or familiarity to the viewer. Exoticism can result in fascination or alienation, but what really interests me is the point where language is pushed beyond the point of signification, once we are in the realm of Julie Kristeva’s semiotic, and one can truly enjoy the jouissance of speech. When I use language in my sound-pieces I’m definitely experimenting with the different rhythms and phonemes particular to Hebrew, Portuguese or English.

I think in some cases, too much is lost in translation – for my film ‘Fonte da Saudade’ I asked a Brazilian actor to perform a voice-over, and the inherent warmth and sensual vowel-sounds of Brazilian Portuguese created the emotional atmosphere of the film. Needless to say, English is not as sexy!

LLO: Which stage of producing a film is usually the most enjoyable – from original idea through working toward a finished project to marketing and sharing your work?
PVD: The most enjoyable bit is when its just me and my camera, traveling and filming, shooting for sheer pleasure.

LLO: Is there a place or object or person specific to London that you would love to incorporate in a future project and why?
PVD: I’ve started collaborating with an artist called Philip Levine and we’re going to make a documentary together about his artistic practice for his upcoming solo show in Summer 2011. Phil is involved in a lot of different activities but his exhibition will focus on his head designs, which are amazing, anyone who is interested should check out his website:

LLO: Other artists you admire?
PVD: While on residency in Morocco I met an Italian photographer called Ambra Vernuccio who takes the most stunning pictures. Whilst there I also met three highly talented illustrators: Seif Alhasani, Kiboko HachiYon and Raimund Wong. Seif is of Iraqi origin but grew up in Sweden and creates mostly hip, funky-fresh graphic design. Kiboko HachiYon is Kenyan and has his own artist-led collective called ifreecans and makes ultra-groovy designs for everything from murals to T-shirts. Raimund is from Hong Kong and makes beautiful prints from wood-cut blocks and also plays electric guitar in a band called Lord Magpie.

In terms of Slade colleagues, I’ve always admired the work of Michael C. Schuller who was in my year in the Fine Art Media area. Michael is from Nashville and his artistic practice includes photography, illustration, creative writing and book-making.

LLO: What are you working on now?
PVD: I shot two hours’ worth of footage in Morocco and I’m currently thinking about creating a double screen projection with the footage I’ve captured. One side of the screen will play a male voice-over and the other side will play a female voice-over. Its funny that you asked me how often literature inspires me, because I’m currently reading a seminal work in Portuguese feminist literature, ‘Novas Cartas Portuguesas’ (English Title – ‘The Three Marias’), and I’ve long wanted to make a work that deals with the female archetypes manifest in Portuguese culture…

Thanks Patricia!

Check out more of Patricia’s work here:

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

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?
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?
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?
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.
 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?
 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?
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?
 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?
 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?
 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.
I like the colours and the few iconic London items on it.

Thanks Fabienne! 

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here. 

Lost Shoes on the Tube

Here’s a little London observation from fabienne & co, a pair of lost shoes on the District line, posted in the Flickr pool.

lost shoes

If you can read French, have a look at the possible explanations for these lost ballerina shoes. If you care to make your own guess as to why they were abandoned, comment here!

There’s a great article from Time Out about items that are lost and found on the tube. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet. Some of the most unusual finds listed include false teeth, a 14-foot boat, an urn of ashes, a grandfather clock, a jar of bull’s sperm, two human skulls in a bag and breast implants.

Every year

London Art Spot: Julie Kertesz

Julie Kertesz, 75

Born in Hungary almost 76 years ago, Julie grew up in Transylvania (which, until she was ten, was part of Hungary then Romania). At the age of 30, she arrived in France and moved to London in July 2008. Here, she has been using English – her fourth language – to explore the wonders of the city and meet nearly 1,000 Londoners for impromptu photographs that she collects in her Flickr set, “Londoners“.

“A nice couple in the street” 

Julie is more proud of her two children and five grandchildren than of her phD in physics, and more proud that she can tell a story in English in the Canal Café theatre with SPARK – then of the more than 1,000 daily views of her Flickr photographs. She is more proud of her group !afterclass!, a photography masterclass on Flickr which is already in its 45th month and theme, then of having won the 1st prize in a competition called Museums at Night – a gallery curated by Culture24 and the fact that her photos will likely appear as examples for the this year’s event. She is most proud of her blog, her photos and storytelling. These allow her to give courage to those who feel their older age, to remind them that at any age, “even after 70”, they can feel and think in a young way and continue to learn new skills.

  “In bus 53 London”

Besides being an avid blogger (including one blog where she has published her first diary from the age of 10), photographer and storyteller, she is learning to improve her public speaking skills with the Toastmaster Club. This was her main activity last year where she won a “competent communicator” diploma. In Argenteuil, France, she was named “Mamie Blogger and Photographer”. Julie is a member of the London Independent Photographers and loves approaching people to photograph them.

Catch up with Julie’s daily contributions to her blogs and her Flickr page for a look at London life at the age of 75. If you have an extra 10 minutes, listen to Julie tell her story of how she came to London to an audience at Canal Cafe Theatre: Now or Never, as recorded.mp3

“Portobello People and Sights – 75”

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
 First in London I discovered the meetup groups and went to Artist’s Way weekly meetings in Royal Festival Hall, then with different meetup photo groups. Second, I discovered London Independent Photographers satellite in Greenwich. I gave speeches about different aspects of photography there and at King University. Third, I discovered from my arrival for a year, the different festivals of different groups, and was also enchanted by how easy it is in London to take photos of people. Then, I discovered the Toastmasters clubs, refreshed my public speaking ability and begin to tell more and more stories. Now, I intend to weave these all together in a multimedia project combining photography, small video parts and storytelling, directly and on the web. Yes, London helps me a lot with my creativity.

“London Canal Stroll (8)”

LLO: You have nearly 36,000 photos on your Flickr page. Where is your favourite place to take your camera?
If it was only one place, it would be near the Thames and the Royal Festival Hall, but also Deptford Hight Street market and wall arts and the different markets and festivals. Anywhere around me, I find inspiration in London’s rich diversity.

“Angela at Little Venice (16)”

LLO: When and how did you first become interested in photography?
 I was told, in 2004, I did not know enough English to register to the Paris writer’s conference, and they proposed me photographic group and classes. But also, a book about writing suggested we go out in our own town with a camera around our neck and “make ourselves tourists in our own town” looking around with new eyes. Going to an almost oriental market in Argenteuil, near Paris, I was stunned at the ease and delight of people when I took photos of them. Going towards people was my first motivation to continue from then on. So I begin really taking photos at age of 70, before I thought I liked more to write.

“Underground 1”

LLO: What type of camera do you use?
I use most of the time a small compact camera that I can (and yes, I do) carry with me all the time. I did buy a few months ago a light reflex, but I did not use it much, in fact. My photography is more documentary then “artistically” oriented, so it is better to have it always ready, and with me.

“Centre Greenwich”

LLO: Not very many 70-somethings are on Flickr or blogging daily the way you do. It’s great to see that. You have video blogs, a blog with your first diary from age 10 translated from the original Hungarian, blogs in French and English. How did you become so interested in photo-sharing and blogging?
 I discovered blogging, after having tried without success to publish my French-translated diary (from ago 10 to 70). On the web, the blog gave me instantly an easy-to-use place where I could publish. As it was the same time, almost, as I begin my documentary Paris photo classes, I was delighted to being able to publish, via Flickr, also pictures. That is how I first discovered Flickr, but after that I also discovered the groups and lots of interactions, going on there. I also met, personally, some bloggers and some Flickr photographers from all over the world. They came to Paris, now in London, from New Zealand, Australia, America, Brazil, Spain, etc. And I went to Flickr photograph strolls with them, in Washington, in Palermo, etc.


LLO: I’m very interested in your Flickr set called “Londoners” with 978 images. Can you tell us a bit about this?
 I love interaction, even if shortly, with people, and I did feel quit alone. I begun my “Parisians”, then I made a set of people in every place I visited, Moroccans, Sicilians, Romanians, etc. So, it seemed normal to go on to Londoners (now over 1,000) who I met in one and half years. Most of them smiled warmly to me, enchanted to be photographed. More and more often, they are the ones to thank me, feeling well, and like celebrities, after I take the photo, after I show them, after we chat a bit also, whenever possible.

“Early Saturday to Farringdon”

At the beginning, in Paris, for example, in shops and markets, I also gave them their photo a week or two later, then took some new ones. Nowadays, I give the address of Flickr where they can find and download, use the photos I have taken of them, or send them by email. And some of them ask me to take photo of me, or of me together with them, or their friends, too. So, sometimes, it is very reciprocal.


Then, I had a project completed almost in a year of visiting Paris’ different “arrondissements” boroughs one by one and discovering lesser known places, more than often new also for me who had lived there for long years. Then, coming in London, I tried to do the same, but instead of “boroughs”, finally I did festivals and markets.

I found that in London there were even more people, thirsty of attention. Taking a photo of them fills a bit that gap, I do believe.

“Gout de Vivre”

LLO: Is capturing photographs of Londoners an ongoing project for you?
Yes, of course. Just lately, I asked my way from an elder delivery man in a small car and then asked if I can take his photo, yes, it was yesterday, here it is!

And also I took photos and small videos of the New Year’s Day London parade until the end, not realizing my legs were freezing and too tense. It took me a week to feel better, but yes, it was worth it. I went also out last year to the Museum at Night, and the photo I took has also people. I do not ask aways. Sometimes, one just cannot disturb people interracting with each other. One of my photos from that event won the first prize and I am asked to be “official” photographer for this year’s event.

Late Night at Museums – Portrait Gallery after 9pm 

LLO: Londoners are typically a bit sceptical of being approached by strangers, but most of the people in your images seem to have warmed to you. How do you go about asking permission to take someone’s photograph?
 I thought a lot about this question as many other photographers asked me. I understand it now even better, after having completed my ten speech projects to become “Competent Communicator” at Toastmasters. The project number 5 was all about body language. I think before and sometimes instead even of speaking, we look at each other’s body language. If it looks friendly, admiring, full with sympathy, the other answers to that with confidence.

“Thames Walk with Klara – 39”

I really do not think my age or sex has to do with people accepting and sympathizing with me. That could be seen in many of my photos, but it is their reaction to how I feel, look, move, and also, sometimes, speak. Making them feel good about themselves, appreciating how they are. As they are.

Here is one example, of a young “punk”-like looking boy, whose photo I took at the end of my photo stroll at the Trafalgar Square Hindu Light Festival, Diwali. He was so proud I chose him and appreciated how he did prepare his hair!

Young boy with “punk” hair at Diwali festival, Trafalgar Square

Of course, all are not saying “yes”, but so what? I am prepared also sometimes to “no” as we should all be when we ask someone something. But in taking photos of people, so far, I had so much more “yes” or “why, me?” than plain “no”.

“Greenwich Park on a Sunday – 83”

LLO: Which image are you most proud of and why?
It is not so easy to choose one image from around 100,000 I have taken from age 70. Those I prefer are not the ones seen 2o,000 times or 6,000 times, or those from “prize” either. They are all pictures with whom I feel sentimental attachment, like my granddaughter and her black friend and schoolmate near each other smiling to me both toothlessly around age eight. Or the man whose soul is somewhat revealed in a photo I took before he knew it, after he “composed”. If I have to give only one of the images, other then the last one that usually like best, it would be this one. Simple, cherries from my garden, in which I recognize “how is familly life”: some alone, some just lost their pairs (as I was just then), some with children, and yet others, their life poisoned with one bad one between them.


LLO: Who are your favourite London-based artists?
 I like a lot, some London-based storytellers, and have a great admiration for the professor and photographer John Levitt, not only leading LIP Greenwhich, but also just formed a joint study group with Goldsmith University. Being an excellent, and modest photographer, he is an inspiration to me.

Self-portait – “After Swimming”

Thanks Julie!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.