Listen to a Londoner: Phoebe Watson

307870_10150296082205974_1863659593_nPhoto: Pheobe in Prism swimwear

Meet Pheobe, a 20-something model from Bath who has lived in London for just over a year. Below, she talks about her modelling career in New York and London, where she likes to shop in London and her favourite place to dance up a storm on a Saturday night. She blogs at London Model Life.

LLO: Where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here?
PW: I was born and raised in Bath in the south west. I absolutely love it there still. I moved to london about a year and half ago, however I spent quite a large chunk of that in New York so I have probably lived in london for about a year now. The only reason I moved was for modelling. I tried and attempted university, but it didnt really click and modelling did so I never looked back.

LLO: When did you become a model? Tell us about your experience in the industry so far.
PW: I was first scouted when I was 13-years-old and I started modeling then. But conflicting with school and netball it was decided that modelling was not right for me when I was growing up, so I gave it up. And then the summer of 2011 I came back to my agency and moved to London. So I’ve been modelling full time time for a year and a half. I spent some time in New York, and to be honest it wasn’t great. I had only really just settled in London and then another big change. Bath is super small and friendly; everyone knows everyone and New York couldn’t be more different. So I didn’t have a great time but now I’m older I would kill to go back.

LLO: How does London compare to New York when it comes to the modeling world?
PW: For me and my look, New York is better, but it’s incredibly hard for me now to get my visa after my first trip over to the States. In a dream world, I would love to move to New York with the boyfriend and the best friend; now that would be amazing.

523924_10150692616005974_2057749903_nPhoto: Phoebe – her favourite modelling shot

LLO: Who are your London-based style icons and why?
PW: My london based style icons? To be perfectly honest I’m not what you would call a “cool” londoner. Some of my modelling shots might be edgy, but I’m as mainstream as they come. I love how women like Emily Blunt and Rosie Huntington Whitely dress, but I’m not so keen in the Agyness Deyns of the world!

LLO: Where are your top three places to shop for clothes in London? Makeup / beauty products?
PW: My style is quite mainstream and relaxed, so for clothes I would go to Zara, Brandy Melville and, of course, the one and only Topshop! But on the odd occasion I love a trip to Rag and Bone or Zadig and Voltaire. My make-up is normally always from Mac; it’s probably because it’s what my older sister used to wear and I used to steal it, so now I’m used to it. Beauty things – I love bioderma!

LLO: Tell us about one place in London would you love to go for a photo shoot and why? 
PW: I love shooting on location in good weather which is hardly ever here in London, soooo if I had to say I wanted to shoot anywhere it would be in the Big Sky Studios. They are amazing. They are huge white rooms with the most amazing facilities and food!! So if im being fussy…there! Or london zoo; I love animals!!!!

65185_10151147600355974_2023808244_nPhoto: Pheobe’s first modelling shot at age 13

LLO: What do you love most about being a Londoner? Anything you dislike about the city?
PW: I love being a londoner because everything you need is a google, a taxi ride or a tube ride away. People, food, anything you need is always around! I dislike that I can’t have Bindi, my beloved pup with me. She is an Australian cattle dog and needs a good run everyday! I miss her!

LLO: Favourite place to spend a Saturday evening in London? Dinner, drinks, dancing, etc?
PW: Favourite place on Saturday night…..Well, I love a good dance! But it always depends on my mood. Me and Rosie choose Mortons and 2&8, because the food is amazing and you’re always welcomed with a smile! Also, they don’t mind us dancing up a storm. But for a more chilled look back to when you’re 16 vibe, I would go to Bodos Schloss.

LLO: How do you keep fit in London? Any advice for those who made that a new year’s resolution?
PW: It’s hard not to keep fit in London. I try to walk or use Boris Bikes. I’ve been quite lucky in the fact I have always been very sporty so I don’t have to gym it every day, but I try!! I’m about to do a blog post of my own on keeping fit and it will all be there soon!

599512_10150942419200974_1189033811_nPhoto: Phoebe with her best friend Rosie – “The Londoner

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery?
PW: My favourite london discovery? Well, it has to be The Londoner. Rosie is the best thing I could ever find in london. This girl is everything to me!!

Thanks Phoebe!

Keep up with Pheobe’s adventures on her blog, London Model Life.

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Listen to a Londoner: Kirsty Allison

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.

Kirsty Allison
Image by Kelli Ali

Novelist, film producer, fashionista, rock n’ roll queen, journalist, Ibiza party girl, teacher, DJ, editor, stylist, poet, traveller and, most importantly, born and bred Londoner, this is Kirsty Allison…

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years? Anything in particular you miss?
KA: I used to frequent a goth club called the William Morris in Wimbledon, I drank snakebite and black, and pretended to be an art student before I became one.  I was thirteen or fourteen.  I’d like to take a time machine back to those times, and have a talk with myself.  London will always have speakeasys and people trying to fight the powers that they think restrict them, it’s the nature of British culture, thankfully, like the city itself, it’s all about contrasts.  The best advice I got at primary school was being told to look up – at buildings…there’s more sky around London than there used to be – rooftop bars, penthouses, I like feeling elevated, rather than suppressed by the towering infernos of our city, although they inspire me.

Image by Kelli Ali

LLO: Which area of London are you most familiar with? Write us a mini-poem about why it rocks.
KA: Shoreditch, is my bitch, She’s the devil to my itch, Roaming there, my artistic lair, Makes my teenage dreams fall fair.  The seen it all before they were twelve year olds, or the enthusiastic old boys and girls, We’re hunting for where we lost our souls, and this is where I like to roll.

LLO: You’ve challenged yourself to wear a different outfit every day for a year. If you were to do it again next year, which five London shops would you hit first to build up your wardrobe?
KA: I’d drop by Fiona Doran’s (aka Mrs Jones) Emporium on St John’s Street. She’s an alma mater who’s guided me like a lady with a lamp in her dress for years.  Beatrix Ong has recently opened a shop in Sloane Street, she knocks class and sex into heels.  I collect Alexander McQueen, so it’s hard to think of a wardrobe without some of his original pieces.  The Vivienne Westwood shop at World’s End features clothes she’s sewn herself.  The Shop below Maison Bertaux in Soho is great, and I love Kokon Tozai.  Off Broadway rocks, set up by the divine Donna Kernan.  Concept stores like http://www.ln-cc.com and Dover Street Market…I could go on…Liberty’s is a pleasure to shop in…whoops, how many was that?!

Image by Gaynor Perry

LLO: Ambit just featured an excerpt from your first novel Medicine and you made the cover! You’ve got three sentences to sell your book. Ready, go…
KA: So tough to compress a work into a small space, but, it’s set in 90’s Shoreditch in an exclusive scene where fashion and music industry myths are accepted as truth.  It’s rock n roll to the max, following the downward social adventures of a fashion designer who starts managing a band, Chernobyl, fronted by a male model.  As their fate becomes stardom, she travels from Ibiza to Paris and a world tour, letting her fashion designs become increasingly bonkers.  It’s a funny tale which makes people cry.  I’ve been working on it for 15 years…

LLO: You’ve been a celebrity stylist and a model, coming across some influential names in the fashion industry. Which up-and-coming London-based designers should we keep an eye on?
KA: Louise Amstrup. Holly Fulton. Elliot Atkinson. James Long. SD Yohans.

LO: Best London discovery?
KA: Churches and graveyards are always good value.

LLO: I’m in London for one night and want to veer off the tourist trail for some food and drink. Any fabulous recommendations?
KA: I like La Trompette in Chiswick, I’ve taken my mum there.  The Seven Stars, off Fleet Street behind the law courts is entertaining, it’s proper characterful landlady stuff.  If you want to keep it cheap, C&R on Rupert Court does a good Singapore Laksa, and follow it with a few drinks at The Coach & Horses in Soho, where every table has served me as an office.  Cay Tre on Old Street is always busy, but if you like Vietnamese it never disappoints.  Lemonia on Regents Park Road.  Wholefoods Market is a palace.  Cecconi’s is proper Jackie Collins territory.  A curry in Southall. There are always new places everywhere.

Image by Kelli Ali

LLO: In the late 90s, you were DJ-ing internationally with the likes of Kris Needs, Irvine Welsh and Howard Marks including a residency at Manumission Motel in Ibiza. Where’s your favourite place in London to party the weekend away?
KA: The party is where you’re at.  Aside from that, The Sanctum Hotel in Soho is cool.  Quintessentially is fun.  The lure of a private member’s bar is something I fall victim to but I love a decent bass, and there are so many warehouse parties going on again, it’s easy to get lost partying.

LLO: Tantric Tourists is one of your latest creative projects. Tell is a bit about what inspired it. Any London screenings or events scheduled?
KA: Tantric Tourists follows a self-proclaimed guru as she escorts 10 American students on a quest for enlightenment across India.  It’s a comedy road movie.  The director, Alexander Snelling, and I first met the guru, Laurie Handlers, in India where she was “whirling on the beach”.  We did a test shoot at a workshop she was hosting in Primrose Hill and cracked up at the rushes.  It was too good a story to turn down.

It goes on limited release from Valentine’s Day.  The DVD is available with a discount by becoming a fan on Facebook.  More info: www.tantrictourists.com

LLO: Do you have a favourite London-based book or a great bookshop to recommend – one of those cosy ones with the slightly musty basement smell or great in-house coffee shop?
KA: This is mainstream but I used to like Borders, they had chairs, it was an easy place to get lost in. Waterstones in Piccadilly does a good job, as does Foyles (if only the Westfield rates weren’t so high they’d still have a second floor).  There are many indie shops doing a great job. Broadway Books is hitting the mark. And my local library has a cafe in it, long may it last.  The Daunts in Marylebone is great because it has all these wonderful wooden bannisters, and they are so excellent at travel books.  Judd Street Books is lovely for art books and oddities, towards Bloomsbury from Kings Cross.  The Oxfam bookshops are always great.  The customer service in Hatchards is good. I love a good bookshop, I clear my head by walking through them, flicking through those who manage to hold their fort on the shelves.  The Espresso Machine is a concept I’m excited about – it’s so called because in the time of a coffee you can order whatever book you desire in whatever paper you choose – so if I wanted Lolita in baby pink, Bob the Paedo is my uncle…(almost) any bookshop or library is serving the future of England a favour.

Image by Laurence Tarquin Von Thomas

Thanks Kirsty!

For more on Kirsty’s fascinating life, lookie here: www.kirstyallison.com

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

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.