Listen to a Londoner: Lisa Bolton

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.

lisa
Lisa Bolton

Lisa is a northern lass from the French countryside who is integrating into London’s Colombian community. She’s trying to get used to overcrowding and living like battery hens whilst growing very fond of cultural diversity, chips and Primark!

LLO: How long have you been in London, where are you from originally and what brought you here?
LB: I’ve been in London for 2 and a half years. I was born in Salford, Manchester but have lived in nearly all my life in a forest in Normandy France which is where I call home. I came here for work and a new beginning. After finishing my studies and working in Spain for 2 and a half years there was little work in France so I made my decision one morning to come to London and find a new job!

LLO: Which area of London are you most familiar with and what’s the best thing about it?
LB: Having lived in various areas in London I really love Elephant and Castle and Brixton. As I said I grew up in a forest 2km outside a village of 467 people. I had a pretty sheltered life to say the least. I had heard so many horrible things about these 2 areas I was scared to death, but there is a really sense of community. Even though I have moved away from the area now I still enjoy going to Weight Watchers every week in Brixton and the Ritzy cinema is brill and there is a lot of different shops. And Elephant is the best place in London as there is so much going on, transport is excellent and you feel as if you are in another world. You can walk into central London in 30 minutes!!!

LLO:  Tell us about your favourite unique London discovery.
LB: Uhmm, quite hard. I think it depends on what you are into and unless you are in that scene you wouldn’t know about it. Thanks to my circle of friends which is made up of Colombians I suppose it would be the Vallenato sub-culture and the private parties, functions, festivals and carnivals.

I would also say that the Fitzrovia live radio performances are a great discovery and brilliant. They often perform at the Globe’s pub The Swan. I discovered this through my friend and ex-flatmate who is an actor.

But of course my most precious unique London discovery is my fiancé Carlos who I met here.

LLO:  Where are your top choices for a night of dancing?
LB: I LOVE dancing but mostly salsa. However, I REALLY like G-A-Y to let your hair down and for cheap drinks! People there are really friendly and will come up and dance with you.

I don’t really like the “Latin” places here. The music is not that great and the dancing is quite the same. I believe La Floridita is great and it has been recommended, but I’ve never been. There is one place in Brixton called “La Mazorca” which is a bit of a dive and there are a few dodgy characters BUT if you go in a group they play great music and have a great dance floor. Otherwise, I have always had the best dancing time at improvised parties in various little bars and open air festivals like “Carnival del Pueblo”.

LLO: Give us an unusual or quirky idea for a date in London.
LB: To be quite honest I have no idea, probably not been on enough dates to know. But I recently met up with a former flatmate who told me he had had a few dates since we had last seen each other and one guy took him to a taxidermist shop! Needless to say he didn’t go out with him again!

LLO: If I only had one night in London and wanted to head away from the tourist trail for food and drinks, where would you send me?
LB: Gosh, this is a hard question as it depends what type of food I fancied. I have my favourite Colombian restaurant, French restaurant and Indian restaurant! But I suppose if I weren’t here I would be living outside the country and therefore it would probably have to be a pub where I could have steak and ale pie and chips. It’s not off the beaten track but the Horneman over-looking the river on the south bank near London Bridge is easy access and the food is quite nice also, but most good pubs could probably do the same.

LLO: If you want to experience another culture in London, what’s your first choice and where do you head to find it?
LB: WOW, the choice is incredible as London in itself is a cultural mish-mash. The first time I went to Whitechapel, I thought I was in some Asian country. It was incredible. Elephant again springs to mind. Latin American and African cultures are predominant and you can get by just speaking Spanish!

LLO: Tell us about a London memory that could only have happened in London.
LB: I am an English teacher on Oxford Street and I have large, very culturally diverse groups of people who maybe have never left their country before. They have strong preconceptions about different nationalities, colours, cultures, sexual preferences and, of course, religion. As a Teacher it is very hard to approach such sensitive subjects especially concerning homophobia and the stigma which every Muslim/Arabic student is viewed with. Some Latin American students have never met a Muslim let alone a woman in traditional dress. But one day in a class in which I had Baptists, born again Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, Russian orthodox, Shintoists and Muslims (from Turkey, Russia and North African countries) the debate turned to religion which I allow as long as everybody respects each other’s beliefs. The students all found common ground within their different religions and traditions using English. They all got along so well and were respectful of each other. I know sounds corny, but I really warmed my heart that despite all the war and hatred in the world, people from  incredibly different walks of life found they were all the same.

LLO: Who is the most interesting Londoner you’ve met and why?
LB: Everyone in London has had an interesting life and a story to tell. But one of my students, Maria, had come from the slums of Lima, Peru, and had been to a school run by nuns and financed by fundraising from Europe. She had worked her way up to become an English teacher and came to England to better her skills.

Doing the job I do has been a real eye opener to see that intelligent, highly qualified people who are psychologists, engineers, lawyers, film directors etc… perform menial jobs due to their legal status and language skills in order to learn the language. It really angers me when you see office workers ignoring cleaners knowing that they are probably for more qualified than them. It cost nothing to smile or acknowledge someone.

LLO:  If you were to move away from London in the future, which five things would you miss the most?
LB:
1) Cultural diversity
2) The choice of different products and restaurants
3) The different events
4) Primark
5) Public transport especially the tube (despite all the strikes, hahhaha!)

Thanks Lisa!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

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London Art Spot: Good Wives and Warriors

Good Wives and Warriors are Becky Bolton & Louise Chappell


It’s not often you find an artistic collaboration as seemless as this. Take any part of one of the Good Wives and Warriors’ giant wall paintings and it’s likely that even they wouldn’t be able to tell you which one of them painted that section.

They’ve had creative adventures all over the globe from a painting tour of South America, to Australia, to the States and around Europe sharing their talent with the rest of the world. Their colourful designs have been picked up by the likes of MTV, Adidas, Urban Outfitters and Swatch as well as a few design magazines and books. There will certainly be more of that in their future.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Becky and Louisa tell us where the name Good Wives and Warriors comes from, share stories of their South America adventures and talk about where they’re jetting off to next.

LLO: Where does the name Good Wives and Warriors come from and how has your partnership developed since university?
B&L: The name Good Wives and Warriors comes from the etymology of our names. The name Rebecca is Hebrew in origin and means ‘to bind’ and that suggests being a good and faithful wife. Louise comes from the French ‘Louis’ meaning famous warrior and renowned fighter. So together we are ‘Good Wives and Warriors’. It in no way represents our personalities but we liked the sound of it so it stuck!

LLO: Which aspects of London life influence your creativity?
B&L: It has to be the other creative, talented and motivated people that we are surrounded by in London. We share a studio with Nelly Ben Hayoun and Olivia Decaris, two energetic and talented French designers and next-door are Felix de Pass, Alex Hume and Giles Miller who are constant sources of support and inspiration. Also the wealth of exhibitions and opportunities in London make such a difference.

LLO: You’re known for your large-scale wall paintings. What’s the biggest you’ve done so far and where was it?
B&L: I think this has to be the painting we did in Clerkenwell with Space In Between Gallery. The exhibition was called ‘Buckminsterfullerene Dream’ and we spent 11 days on this painting, which is by far the longest we’ve spent on a single wall painting. We also painted the columns and part of the floor.

LLO: If you could choose any wall in London to redecorate, where would you bring the paintbrushes and what would you create?
B&L: The entire outside of the Tate Modern would be pretty good! A big sprawling mass of wonder.


LLO: Which piece of work or professional moment have you been most proud of so far?
B&L: I think we both feel pretty proud of ourselves when we’re in a book! There is something about being in print that really validates what you do. Also, the first exhibition we curated in Glasgow called the Sprezzatura Maze, because we were responsible for every aspect of the exhibition from selecting the artists, building the walls and playing hosts to the French artists that came to stay with us. It was such hard work but really worth it.

LLO: Past clients include Adidas, Urban Outfitters, Swatch, MTV and loads more. Do you have a dream client or project?
B&L: We’ve always wanted to do book covers, so maybe vintage or Penguin, we’d like to do a honey label and the set design for a big theatre production.

LLO: Tell us about your painting tour of South America – challenges, best moments, etc.
B&L: We had an incredible time in South America, but there were lots of challenges! It was really hard to pinpeople down with dates for exhibitions. We’d been emailing for months before but still had no definite plans when we arrived so had to try and make it all happen.

The first painting we did in Cusco, Peru, involved going round with a translated speech about ourselves, and asking if we could paint on people’s walls. Obviously there were lots of Incan walls that we couldn’t paint on, and we had many rejections, but finally a lovely man let us loose on his wall and kept giving us Inca Cola (which is luminous green) and key rings! His kids and the stray dogs hung around us as we were painting and we had lots of attention from passersby. (Most of which we didn’t understand!)

One of the paintings we did in Buenos Aires was throughout the night, starting at 10 and finishing at 7 in the morning. We were exhausted and I (Becky) ended up fainting in MacDonald’s which was really embarrassing as everyone just stepped over me thinking I was a drunk! This painting was a ‘Cock-Rocket’ so it got quite a lot of attention too, which was funny.

LLO: What’s a typical creative day like for the two of you?
B&L: We share a studio with designers in Shoreditch so most days are spent working away there unless we’re doing a wall painting somewhere and then that means long hours of painting in situ. When we’re doing commercial work we’ll be in the studio but doing exhibitions and wall paintings means we get out and about a lot.

We were just involved in an exhibition called ‘Super K Sonic Boooum’ by Nelly Ben-Hayoun at the Manchester Science Festival which involved us making a geodesic dome out of 75 pieces of cardboard, trying to paint and construct it in our studio (which is pretty small) and then attempting to take the whole thing in pieces to Manchester on the train. It was a nightmare and it kept collapsing! We finally managed to make it stay up so people could go inside but it was such a mission. Our brains work much better in 2-D than in 3-D! So we always have periods of exhibition stuff, which is way more fun than being attached to our desks.

LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
B&L: We love Raqib Shaw for his incredibly intricate and sumptuous paintings. To be honest, most of the artists we like don’t live in London!

LLO: What are you working on now?
B&L: We’re going to do an exhibition in Mexico City in 3 weeks time so we’re doing a new set of drawings to take over, so they are taking up most of our time at the moment. They are quite labour intensive. We’re also waiting to hear back from a couple of commercial jobs to see if we’ve got them.

Thanks Becky and Louise!

For more from Becky and Louise, check out their colourful website.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.