London Art Spot: Emli Bendixen

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.

Thanks Emli!

For more of Emli’s work, check out her website: www.emli.dk/photography.html

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

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London Event: Where Three Dreams Cross

Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh presents the work of more than 70 photographers who have captured aspects of these three countries and their people in striking images. It explores the ways in which the art of photography has developed over time on the subcontinent.

The exhibition is divided into five themes as explained on the gallery’s website: “The Portrait shows the evolution of self-representation; The Family explores close bonds and relationships through early hand-painted and contemporary portraits; The Body Politic charts political moments, movements and campaigns; The Performance focuses on the golden age of Bollywood, circus performers and artistic practices that engage with masquerade; while The Street looks at the built environment, social documentary and street photography.”

Check it out at Whitechapel Gallery now until 11 April, 2010.
Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX
Tube: Aldgate East
Cost: Tickets £8.50/£6.50 concessions
Website for more info is here

Listen to a Londoner: Sudakshina Mukherjee

Listen to a Londoner. This is a weekly post where people who live (or have lived for a while) in London answer a few questions about the Big Smoke. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new victims volunteers….

Sudakshina Mukherjee, 26

Sudakshina was born and raised in Hounslow, West London, till the age of 12 and she then moved to Kolkata, India, for further schooling. She then came back to London and graduated with a BA (2:1) Hons in New Media Journalism with Film & TV Studies from Thames Valley University, in 2005.

Since then, she has worked in several jobs in the print and online media, finance and education sectors.

 In her spare time she writes for various publications and manages her website- www.journalismwithsudakshina.com.

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
SM: Pretty much most of my life, aside from my high school years.

LLO: Where are you (or your family) from originally if not London?
SM:
I was born here, but my parents are originally from Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

LLO: Best thing about London?
SM:
It’s so cosmopolitan and the fact that there are branches of shops and banks in almost every town, which is very convenient!

LLO: Worst thing about London?
SM:
The mismanagement of overcrowding.

LLO: North, south, east or west?
SM:
Well, I’m a Hounslow girl, so west London is my cosy home, but I also love central London, obviously!

LLO: Best shop?
SM:
Westfield Shopping Centre. It’s done wonders to London’s brand image, I feel.

LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
SM:
Stay! It’s a big deal and it’ll work out to be good for us!

LLO: How do you spend your time on the tube?
SM:
Bopping along to my iPod and reading the free newspapers.

LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
SM:
London Lite. I miss it very much and sad it had to close down.

LLO: Best time of year in London?
SM:
Spring time. We all start smiling broadly and the weather does make us feel good, even if life isn’t going that well.

LLO: Boris is……
SM:
Funny. I really considered sending him a comb for his messy hair this Christmas. He has his heart in the right place, but sometimes makes a boo-boo and goes all weird.

Thanks Sudakshina!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Koushik Ghosh

Listen to a Londoner. This is a weekly post where people who live (or have lived for a while) in London answer a few questions about the Big Smoke. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new victims volunteers….

Koushik GhoshKoushik Ghosh, 30
(Bonus answers from Koushik who sped past the 10 questions like Lucy a few weeks ago!) 

Koushik spends his days cutting people up working as a surgeon in Chelsea. By night he likes nothing more than playing chess, pool and occasionally listening to loud funky music whilst driving his car around West London.

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
KG:
Pretty much all 30 years of my life. I was born in Edgware General Hospital and brought up in North London. 

LLO: Where is your family from originally?
KG:
My parents are originally from Kolkata, in West Bengal, India

LLO: Best thing about London?
KG:
 I think its probably the vibrancy and diversity of cultures, though the number of things to see and do are almost endless. Clubs, bars, galleries, museums, wonderful parks – from the young and eclectic to the cultured and sophisticated – there’s something for everyone.

LLO: North, south, east or west?
KG:
Being someone who has lived in pretty much all parts of London, I can say there’s pros and cons for most areas. I grew up in North London and a lot of my friends live in and around various parts of it so that always has good memories for me. The last few years I have lived in South London and found it to be lovely in terms of parks and people, but it has slightly worse travel links. East London is certainly diverse and vibrant with some nice restaurants if you look in the right places, though it tends to be a little rougher than other parts. Though, to me London is like a mosaic – you won’t live in a bad patch without being a stones throw from a good patch.

LLO: Best restaurant?
KG:
Ooo thats a tough one. I’d have to go for Buen Ayre in Bethnal Green or Tayabs in Whitechapel.

LLO: Best place to escape the city?
KG:
Wonder out into the suburbs of North West London and beyond. Perhaps venture to Elstree in Hertfordshire and pick strawberries. Or get lost with the wild deer in Richmond Park and then take a rowing boat down the Thames in the summer.

LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
KG:
Definitely stay – if just to say you were there. I think it’s going to transform the face of East London; the vibe will be amazing.

LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
KG:
The Bull and Gate Pub, Kentish Town

LLO: Best local band?
KG:
They started playing acid jazz in Ealing venues back in the early Nineties – Jamiroquai

LLO: Favourite book, song or film about London?
KG:
It’s an old film from the Nineties called Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence. I watched it with some friends from school and it made you feel quite excited about the city we lived in.

LLO: Favourite market?
KG:
I really like Greenwich Market – so bustling and not a sprawling mess full of tourists like a lot of the other markets in London. There’s more of a feeling of authenticity to it.

LLO: Most influential Londoner?
KG:
Joe Strummer of the Clash

LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
KG:
I have always been a fan of The Metro – it summarizes important and entertaining news stories in bite-size, attractive chunks and is free and readily available.

LLO: First place to take a visitor?
KG:
Ronnie Scotts Jazz club, Soho.

LLO: Boris is…
KG:
…A hero for saving that lady being beaten up by those chavettes. Also a bumbling buffoon – but in the most entertaining way possible.

LLO: What would you change about the city if you had the power to do so?
KG:
Introduce mobile phone reception on the underground and make it run 24 hours.

Thanks Koushik!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Guest Post: Dear London…

Words and photo by Ramble who has come from India to enjoy the little things London has to offer for a while. She blogs here and has allowed me to repost this entry to share with you because I loved it.

Dear London,

It is difficult not to fall in love with you.
.
I came here expecting regimented routine where things never go wrong, where buses always run on time. But was relieved to find dug up railways, bank men who want you to come on another day because they want to go home [at 3.30 pm]. And bus drivers who will decide to just terminate the route because they felt like it.
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They said you were rich. But going through your secondhand markets where even the worst junk has takers, I doubt it. But in the infinite number of people from myriad cultures and countries who float through your streets, you are definitely rich. [I say that at the cost of sounding cheesy].
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While looking at the supermarket aisle and sharing appalling sighs over the price of a jar of peanut butter with an African lady, I feel a certain richness. In India, one never used to carry poverty on one’s sleeve with so much pride.
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In the hospital-like smell which emits from the silence in your tubes where crowds exist in negation of any sound, there could be a need to reach your tribe – your little China or Poland or Senegal or England or India or Egypt. Maybe when the tube drops you at your “country” the silence will burst open in a bottle of drink, a cup of tea or a prayer.
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I love asking people on your streets for the way. The stiff faces open up in a smile or a scratch of the chin. Every one of them tries their best to find out the way for a stranger. In that utopian state of mind of maplessness, one can ignore the helpful and not so helpful of your road signs.
.
I hate the broken bits of beer bottles on your streets, wondering when will they break open my only pair of shoes. If you are anyway risking your liver, why not risk the intake of a little plastic? But since your shops sell alcohol cheaper than fruits or vegetables, my concern can only end up in the dustbin.
.
Well, I am not looking for a happily ever after with you; though you are charming and mysterious, complicated and easy, rich and poor, beautiful and worn out, handsome and trampy. I need a bit more ownership of “my place” if I ever find it. Wouldn’t ever want to get into a “where did u come from” argument with you where my colour and attire might some day become stones around my neck. “My place”, if I ever find it, would have neither commitment phobia nor Othello syndrome.
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But while I am here, let me sit by your river sides, watch your crowds float by, sigh at the impossible prices inside your shops, wade through your unemployment scene, and whisper to you – that it is difficult not to fall in love with you.