London Art Spot: Agata Bartoszcze

 
Agata Bartoszcze, is a photographer, artist and designer living between London and her native Poland. However, her photography takes her around the globe. Her work has featured in numerous publications, most recently Photolife magazine. Her exhibition, “Vernisage – Women by Agata Bartoszcze” at The Bowler pub in Farringdon, is the first public exhibition of her work. It concerns the complex delicacies of the female form and spirit.  

“Rather then thinking of myself a photographer, I instead think of myself as a traveller and a teller of stories,” Agata said. “My travels are part of a life journey. I explore nature, cities and objects but also human behaviour, thoughts and feelings. I collect moments and transform them into images. Images which complete my stories. This thinking has led me to photograph almost everything and tell stories of unforgettable places, convey the fairy tales of the objects, children’s dreams, adult dramas or women’s desires. Lives of ordinary people play the main role in my stories and my challenge is the endeavour of revealing a layer of honesty and true thoughts behind the humans captured on film.”  

For this week’s London Art Spot, Agata tells us about her first public exhibition in London, the story of a chinese woman with peanuts and shares some of her stunning photographs from all over the world. 
 

LLO: How did you choose which photographs to include in your first public exhibtion and are you happy with the outcome?
AB:
Lovely female shapes are terrible complicators of the difficulties and dangers of this earthly life, especially for their owners.” ~George du Maurier

Women are inspiring, intriguing and beautiful. Their minds are like a riddle and feelings like a sea. Because I am one of them. The theme suits its surroundings and the relaxed atmosphere of The Bowler pub. Very positive outcome.

LLO: Has your approach to photography changed since moving to London?
AB:
I’ve always loved photography, so this hasn’t changed. I think I’ve grown with all what I’ve experienced in London.

LLO: Share a photo with a great story behind it and tell us about it.
AB:
Chinese woman with peanuts. Very old lady wanted to sell us some peanuts. We really didn’t want to eat them, but she insisted, started being very annoying even violent. She appeared to be strong. I thought this is a fantastic opportunity for a great shot.

 

LLO: Your photos from Mongolia are stunning. What challenges did you face in order to get the perfect shot?
AB:
I think I am a good observer and sometimes very lucky, especially with the landscapes. Sometimes you have to wait hours to get the best shot, sometimes you are right there, like it was waiting for you.

To approach people is a different story and very individual I would say. Sometimes I have to hide and take a shot secretly, sometimes I build invisible connection and other times I behave bravely and don’t ask even if I know I shouldn’t photograph the person.

LLO: Take us behind the scenes and describe your favourite photoshoot so far.
AB:
 I love traveling, so relaxing and taking photographs is so natural and pleasurable for me.

One of the best ones was on the Trassiberian train, when I saw a little Mongolian girl, very shy at the beginning of our photoshoot. After a while she became a real model, very confident and relaxed, we both enjoyed it withought saying a single word.

LLO: What sort of equipment do you have in your collection?
AB:
It is not equipment which makes you a photographer. I haven’t got a fancy camera or lenses, but I have a vision.

LLO: Are there any London-based photographers you really admire?
AB:
Matt Stuart. Absolutely honest photographer. I admire him for his patience and optimism.

LLO: What are you working on next?
AB:
Any subject is a challenge. As I mentioned before, photography is my journey, I try to see beauty in everything and then tell these transformed into images stories.

Thanks Agata! 

For more of Agata’s work, have a look at her Flickr page.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here. 

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Listen to a Londoner: Donna Hardie

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 volunteers!

Donna Hardie

Remember that recent post on Completely London magazine? I managed to get in touch with Donna – the editor of this new property publication that is cooler than your average property publication. She agreed to answer a few of my nosy questions. It’s a bit of a twist on the usual Listen to a Londoner posts, but she’s definitely a Londoner in the know! Here she talks about London’s secret river, tells us why Brockley is a cool place to live and lets us in on what to expect in the next issue of Completely London, out mid-February.

LLO: Completely London’s first issue is full of little London secrets. Which is your favourite? 
DH:
 For me it has to be the River Fleet that flows under the streets of London, including right underneath the Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell where I’ve often had breakfast, completely unaware of what was flowing right beneath my feet. It’s a piece of London that can be traced right back to Anglo-Saxon times – a tangible link to the city’s past. 

LLO: If you could move to any area of London, where would you choose and why?
DH:
Mmm, a tough one. If money were no object and I didn’t have to worry about how easy it is to get to work in east London, then I’d say somewhere pretty and village-like. Maybe Hampstead – a place that’s so chocolate-box perfect, you could actually be in a country village. But to be honest, I’m a confirmed south east Londoner, so I’m not sure how at home I’d feel north of the Thames (see our next issue where we challenge two readers to a north/south swap for 24 hours). I also think it would be fantastic to live in Shoreditch where I work so I wouldn’t have the morning commute. Maybe in an open-plan converted loft apartment with vaulted ceilings and a private roof terrace where my dog Bob could go out and play around. Shoreditch is buzzy, exciting and vibrant without the crowded chaos of the West End. I love the shady old Victorian streets in Spitalfields where Jack the Ripper lurked – there’s a very real sense of history all around you.

LLO: There are plenty of areas in London that are artsy and eclectic, but compromise safety. Others feel secure, but the vibe isn’t as fresh or exciting. Where can you find the best of both worlds? 
DH:
I’m obviously biased but where I live now in Brockley pretty much hits the mark. It hasn’t quite got there on the social scene yet – when I bought my house 10 years ago there, estate agents were already calling it ‘up and coming’. A decade down the line and it still hasn’t quite made it but there’s been a spattering of trendy coffee shops, delis and bars opening over the last few years which might mean Brockley’s turning a corner. It has enough going on locally though to make it feel lively – you can dip into the foodie scene of East Dulwich which is next door, or soak up the arty atmosphere of Deptford and New Cross just around the corner. Brockley itself is one place in London where houses are still reasonably priced, so it attracts a lot of young families to the area –  and for that reason there’s a safe sense of community. The East London line opens at Brockley station in June, and I’m sure when that happens, the area will be transformed, hopefully for the better, but it would be a shame if we had to compromise our sense of safety and community for the sake of a booming social scene. 

LLO: Any advice for incoming expats looking to let their first flat in London?
DH:
 Research your area thoroughly before you commit to renting. Websites such as upmystreet.com give you information on the schools are in the area, the kind of people who live there, the crime figures, the choice of entertainment on offer and more. And as word of mouth is invaluable, you should ask like-minded people who have already gone through the renting process for their advice. Search online for expat forums where you can get first-hand advice.

LLO: What can we look forward to in the Spring issue of Completely London?
DH:
 The theme of our next issue is ‘Change’. And we’ve got lots to pique your interest – ways to breathe new life into your social life, interviews with people who have undergone life-changing situations, a peek into homes that had a previous life, a look at London gems that steadfastly resist change and much more that will redefine your views on our great Capital.

Thanks Donna!

[Stop in any London branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward to pick up a free copy of Completely London….]

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Completely London

In the midst of all the house-hunting the past few weeks, popping into estate agents and picking up their free booklets, I discovered a cool new magazine called Completely London. It’s put out by Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, but it’s not your typical property magazine.

The first issue, which is the one I picked up, is the “secrets” issue. It has “143 London secrets” buried inside. The magazine offers a taste of different areas where you can buy or rent property in London by featuring interviews with local residents and includes suggestions for nearby pubs and restaurants. There’s a small calender listing a few events in the capital, a look inside some of the current properties on the market and different features available. An article shows off a few of London’s roof gardens, growing in popularity, and loads of colourful photographs.

Their website has a cool list of local London facts. You can read a few of the articles, and take a look at bits of the “Postcode Secrets” article.

To pick up a free copy of the actual magazine, pop into any KFH branch. The second issue will be out around February 16 with a theme of “change”.

Smoke: A London Peculiar

This little 52-page gem is essential reading for anyone in love with London.

For starters, the description on the website is enough to make one  swoon: “… a love-letter to London, to the wet neon flicker of late-night pavements, electric with endless possibility and the soft dishevelled beauty of the city’s dawn… to the overheard stories and unexplored histories, the facts and the fictions, the accidental poetry and fugitive art of graffiti-slashed suburban stations and rain-splashed shopfronts… the out-of-shot lives half-glimpsed from a train window, or from a phone number scrawled on the back of a Travelcard, dropped on the night-bus stairs…”
(I wasn’t going to paste all of that, but I couldn’t bare to chop any out because it’s lovely.)

Editor Matt Haynes and his contributors dip into the pockets of London that are often forgotten and empty them out for us through creative writing and photographs that expose London’s lint as well as its little known treasures. “A London Peculiar” is accurate indeed because this is one of the most unique publications I’ve seen that explore the city so thoroughly in print. It was one of my first London discoveries when I moved here and still one of my favourites. 

Issue 15 is on shelves now.

A Wednesday Morning: 8:15-9:00am

  • An elderly woman in a headscarf pushing an empty baby buggy down the pavement, walking slowly, singing (or more like yodelling) loudly.  About 10 feet behind, a man of the same age shuffled along.
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  • Instead of the usual Sport or ShortList handed out on the corner by the tube, today I looked twice to see that it was something different. This is a weekly magazine called Stylist given out every Wednesday morning. The first issue was published last week. It’s your typical woman’s read with fashion, beauty, diet, a smattering of events and staying in options, etc. Kept me occupied from Ealing Broadway to White City if that means anything.
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  • And speaking of free tube reading, you probably have noticed the Evening Standard has been free from this Monday. 
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  • As usual on the tube, there is at least one amusing person to write about. Today, it was a man in a tan suit with a similar coloured gym bag who sat across from me. He held a copy of a tube map, looking back and forth between it and the one posted in the train. He muttered to himself, “Now, if I take this route I’ll end up here.” A few seconds later, “No, no… This looks like a better option. Lets see here.” And then, “I wonder where this goes. What is this place.” This went on for a few stops until he got off the train at North Acton.