Dressing Up for the Laundrette

If getting the laundry done was on your list of New Year’s resolutions, here’s a good shot for you from Buckaroo Kid. It was taken down on The Cut in Waterloo. Gotta love the tie at the laundrette. Everything else must have been dirty?

laundrette

If you’ve got any good London shop front photos, add them to the Flickr pool for a chance to be featured here one of these days!

London Art Spot: Retail Opportunities

Okay, so it’s not exactly a normal Art Spot post, but it’s a pretty artistic photo from past Art Spot interviewee Kathy Archbold, aka Buckaroo Kid.  It also fits the “observationist” theme perfectly, so I had to share. Proper Sunday Art Spot interviews start up again next week!

does it get any better?

For the normal Art Spot posts, click here.

Obligatory Snow Post


West Ken Snow by Buckeroo Kid from the Flickr pool. (She was the London Art Spot feature last Sunday. Here’s a link if you missed her awesome London pics!)

Maybe it’s because I come from snow-y Buffalo, New York where people break out one of four ice scrapers from the back seat and drive around with their 4-wheel drive tyres in blizzards without a second thought that I find this so amusing. In Buffalo, this amount of snow is absolutely laughable.

These headlines conjure up a much worse picture in my head than the pretty image in Kathy’s picture above.

Telegraph: “Britain’s deep freeze: icy weather brings worst snow for 50 years”
Guardian: “Grit supplies reaching critically low level as icy weather continues”
Metro: “Panic buying as heavy snow hits”
Evening Standard: “230,000 pupils get day off; more closures feared”
The Sun: “UK has 8 days of gas left”

Some of the best headlines came yesterday – about elderly people buying second-hand books to burn because they are cheaper than firewood. All the grocery shops are running out of products because frantic people are stocking up.

When I woke up this morning, I could still see grass poking through a thin layer of the white stuff. It was pretty. It was out-of-the-ordinary for London. But it wasn’t exactly life-threatening.

The way Londoners react to this weather fascinates me to no end. Everyone seems more friendly, smiling at strangers, except for the morning commute when travel chaos ensues and you’re smashed into a carriage with a stranger’s hair in your mouth. Kids run about, sticking their tongues out for flakes. People carry umbrellas (umbrellas??). Although, I suppose that’s the natural reaction to precipitation in these parts…You can’t have a conversation without the word “snow” and multiple exclamation points.

And then there’s the complete idiots. For example, I was on my lunch break for half hour yesterday. When I left, there was a dog tied to a railing – a black dog with long scraggly sopping wet hair, sitting in a puddle, covered in snow, visibly shivering with these big sad eyes. When I returned, he was still there, lying down in the puddle, a salt-and-pepper speckled mound. I don’t even like dogs, but I wanted to give the poor thing a blanket. Seriously.

Anyway, I’m sure in some parts outside of London, it might be a bit more “severe”, but the world’s not ending (except maybe for that dog if someone didn’t rescue it by now), the media hype is hysterical and… umbrellas? 

It’s just a bit of snow.

London Art Spot: Kathy Archbold

Self-Portrait

Photographer Kathy Archbold was born in Essex, but has spent most of her life in London. After a foundation art course at Harlow she attended Newport Art School in South Wales, which, she said, was only really notable by the attendance of a student dropout called ‘Woody’ – who later became Joe Strummer.

After her fair share of bartending during college, she found a job painting faces at a mannequin company. A few years later, she left to run a stall in Kensington Market, but because the skill she picked up painting mannequins is so peculiar, she continues to take on freelance work today. In 1983, Kathy relocated to New York to train mannequin artists. She returned to London in 1987 and has remained, in various parts of the city, ever since.

Derelict House
 
LLO: Tell us a bit about your background as a photographer.
KA:
Although I’ve done quite a lot of illustration work, I always thought of myself as a pretty rubbish photographer. I knew how I wanted my pictures to look, but never got to grips with the technical aspects of [photography] or owned a decent camera and getting a film back was always a real disappointment. I only actually joined Flickr as a good way of keeping in touch with a pal who moved to Australia. But in doing so, I discovered that with digital and Photoshop, I could maybe alter my images to look the way I intended. I know a lot of people are opposed to any form of photo editing, and I’m not always a fan of what I call ‘The Science Fiction Look’, but I can say quite honestly that no one would even notice my pictures, especially when I started, if I hadn’t or didn’t edit them. Through Flickr, I discovered a lot of photographers whose work I really admired, and have been trying to emulate ever since, with varied results! I know Photoshop is open to much misuse and abuse, and neither is it quick or easy to learn. There’s a temptation to do something just because you can, and if I look at my earlier images, they often look overdone to me now. But four years on, I’m still learning, and although I am now experimenting with toy and vintage film cameras to get the look I want, My digital point and shoot remains constantly with me at all times, and has still produced most of my favourite photos. 
 

Roupell Street, SE1

LLO: How does London influence your creativity?
KA:
I think I’m definitely a city person, and what I miss about London if I leave is a certain diversity you don’t really get anywhere else. On the tube the other day, I sat opposite a Japanese girl wearing a flat cap, Jimi Hendrix T shirt, and talking to a friend about an Indian meal in a Manchester accent.

The John Snow, Broadwick Street W1
 
LLO:  This set of photos is called Scuzzy London. What criteria do you consider to decide if a photo falls into this category?
KA: Definitely things that fall outside the tourist category, off the beaten track that maybe not everyone would notice, although its actually not about ugliness. I just find them more interesting, beautiful, or even humorous. A lot of the things I include are no longer there when I go back, so its also a bit of an affectionate document of my personal history with the place. I think cities suffer sometimes from being too gentrified and expensive, and all need a bit of sleaze and danger. When things get too expensive, and creative people can’t afford to live or work there, it all becomes very boring. Look at New York now – safer, but no one could say its anywhere near as exciting as it once was.
 
Salvador Dali’s Bike
 
LLO: How long have you lived in London?
KA
: I first moved here in 1972. Although I left in ’83, so it hasn’t been consistent. But I’ve remained here now since 1987.
 
Covent Garden WC1
  
LLO: What type of camera do you use?
KA:
 A Panasonic Lumix TZ2 – a point & shoot. I’ve had it about 3 years, and although there are times now when I’d like a big serious ‘proper’ camera, its just so damn handy to carry around, has a great 10x zoom and people don’t notice it. As I quite like a ‘vintage’ look, I’ve also got some toy/old film cameras like a Diana Mini, Holga, Viv, etc. I just got a seconhand Lomo lca which I’m really looking forward to using, but the Panasonic is still the one I use most. 

Strand Station: closed in 1994, now a photobooth

LLO: Which image in the Scuzzy London set are you most proud of and why?
KA: That changes, but I think maybe this one. I was scared the cat would run of before I took it, but it has a lot of elements I like, and the the little Winston Churchill in the shop window just makes it for me somehow.
Model
 
LLO: Which area of London is your favourite for taking photos?
KA: I live very near the Southbank, so do take a lot of pictures there, although its one of the most over photographed areas I still seem to find something. But what’s so great about london is that no matter how well you think you know it, you can always find some area or something you’ve never seen, and when this happens, that’s my favourite! I just set off somewhere and walk, and have the whole of London at my disposal!
 
Kilburn High Road
 
Thanks Kathy!
 
Check out Kathy’s work on Flickr, Etsy or Red Bubble.
 
NOTE: All images are copyright Kathy Archbold. Please do not use without strict written permission.
 

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.