Listen to a Londoner: A Final Word

I was a Londoner for the last four years. It taught me infinitely more about the world and myself than I ever could have expected to learn if I hadn’t gone abroad. These four years, I will never, ever forget. But what it also taught me was that there is so much out there to explore and so I’m moving on to new adventures. Here I will use this last Listen to a Londoner to turn the tables and answer some questions from you guys.

Q1: Where is your next adventure leading you?
LLO: First to New York to see family and friends for about a month then a one-way ticket to Colombia for as long as it takes to decide whether I can make it my next home.

Q2: Will you ever move back to London?
LLO: Never say never, but as much as I do love London, I don’t have any plans to at the moment.

Q3: What is your reasoning for leaving?
LLO: There are a few reasons. One, for love and the invitation to move to Colombia. And two, because I need a change of pace. I need to feel grass on bare feet, look up to the sky at night and see stars and walk out of my front door without the chance of being trampled by commuters or hit by a double decker bus. I need a bit of stillness.

Q4: Was finding a job difficult in London?
LLO: While I did freelance work on the side occasionally, I had two main jobs while in London and both of them found me. I posted my CV on Gumtree and got called up for interviews. Granted that was back in 2007 and then 2008, so the situation is different now, but it’s not impossible if you’re flexible.

Q5: What brought you to London years ago?
LLO: Curiosity and obsession, I suppose. In 2004, I spent a semester abroad living it up in Knightsbridge and travelling on weekends so I had this idea of London as an ideal place. After I graduated I immediately came back to London to relive that fantasy, but of course real life kicked in!

Q6: What is the most influential part of London to you?
LLO: Not sure if you mean area or aspect, but if you mean area, definitely all around Brick Lane and if you mean aspect, then the diversity without a doubt.

Q7: Will you continue a blog where you are going?
LLO: Yes, it will be just like this one but in a different location. I will post the link in an entry here when I get one so check back around March or so. To bridge the gap, I have another blog now called Little Photography Observationist. Feel free to stop by and say hi!

Q8: How easy is it to make friends in London?
LLO: It’s very easy to meet acquaintances and people to hang out with. You meet them through flatmates, other friends, work colleagues and at random. But to make real true long-lasting friends is a lot more difficult because everyone seems to be on a visa that runs out sooner or later and they leave to be replaced by new friends. London is a transient place and though the people you meet are incredible and influential, they don’t always stick around. I was lucky and ended up with an incredible group of girls.

Q9: What is your favourite coffee shop?
LLO: I don’t drink coffee, but have two places I love to go for tea that also have coffee: Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street and 1001 Cafe on Brick Lane – both have amazing atmosphere, though very different from one another, delicious tea and yummy snacks. If I were to go for coffee, Monmouth is good and I’ve heard great things about Flat White in Soho, though I’ve never gotten around to going inside because it’s always too crowded for my taste.

Q10: Where is your favourite place in London to be alone, think, and escape the crowds?
LLO: A walk in Hampstead Heath is brilliant for all of that. The Thames path that runs down the southwest portion of the river is nice as well. Of course, these are summer activities, so in the winter, I will go down to the basement of Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street or have a hot chocolate in Scootercaffe on Lower Marsh Street near Waterloo.

Q11: As a writer in the city, what in London has inspired your writing the most while you’ve been here?
LLO: The diversity of the people and the details that are a result of this mixture of lifestyles – the smell of kebabs mixed with curry mixed with Japanese food and South African BBQ, the many languages that mingle in the air when you walk through a crowd, the tolerance and openness to try new experiences, the music of Jamaica and Ireland and India, celebrating the customs of all different cultures. There is a world in this city.

Q12: Top 5 things you will miss?
LLO: In no particular order and not including people:
1. Savoury muffins and relax tea at Sacred Cafe on Ganton Street
2. Street art around Shoreditch and Brick Lane
3. Diversity, people watching and walking around aimlessly with my camera
4. Walking through the market with a choice of lunch – Tibetan, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Brazillian, Japanese, Peruvian, Chinese, Indian, South African, Colombian, Jamaican, Finnish. You name it.
5. The amazing and always changing shopping options!

Q13: Where is your favourite bookshop in London?
LLO: Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street, Stanfords in Covent Garden and the Book and Comic Exchange in Notting Hill. The first two have excellent selections of travel books and cultural fiction and the third has that old musty bookshop smell and second-hand treasures galore.

Q14: Top thing you will look forward to leaving behind, and why?
LLO: Easy. Crowds and chaos. While they make London what it is, they can also drive you crazy if you don’t get away sometimes. It gets annoying trying to go shopping with umbrellas poking you in the eye, people stepping on your feet and having smelling armpits at nose-level on a hot summer tube ride. I’m looking forward to some personal space.

Q15: What song or album would you consider as your soundtrack for your time here, and why?
LLO: I’ll just give you a few unrelated songs even if it’s cheating: Prodigy – Out of Space which reminds me a of a few crazy house parties and bonfires we’ve had; Is this Desire by PJ Harvey for a similar reason; anything Oasis after anoter house party that involved everyone singing along; U2’s One and Set Fire to the Third Bar by Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright for some great gigs and of course, anything by The Stayaways – a local band I grew really close to and have seen them live more times than I can remember.

Thanks again everyone for all of your comments and encouragement and stay tuned for another blog coming up in a few months. In the meantime, check out Little Photography Observationist.

Cheers,

Steph

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Londoners: Dining Alone

Dining Alone

Too much going on for any more Art Spot interviews unfortunately, but took a last stroll through Covent Garden yesterday and saw this man in the middle of all the crowds sitting completely alone. I thought it was a good representation of how living in a big city can be sometimes, taking a time out, a stranger in a crowd of millions.

To repeat what I said last entry, I’ll be doing a Listen to a Londoner post – the last one before I leave London – next Saturday so I invite you to throw questions at me to answer through this week. Ill pick 10 of the best for Saturday. Leave them in the comments or email me at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk

Listen to a Londoner: Call for Questions

As some of you already know, I will be leaving London next week which means Little London Observationist will be frozen as is until I someday return. I’m off on new adventures and will continue a blog in the same way from a new location.

For next weekend, the last weekend, it’s been suggested that I answer a Q&A for the Listen to a Londoner post. So this is an invite for you to ask me all the questions you like over the next few days. I will choose 10 or so to answer for next Saturday.

London Art Spot: Perry Sullivan

Not for innocent eyes, Perry sullivan draws on themes of sexuality, human form and politics to create a body of work that sometimes has a shock value with that can’t-peel-your-eyes-away sort of appeal. Some are disturbing, some may be offensive, but his goal is to draw on real bits of life that people can relate to rather than pretentious conceptual art that’s not always so easy to understand.

Perry is a master of line, light, shadow and form that gives life to the figures in his paintings. He will be showing them off at the Brick Lane Gallery until tomorrow so there’s still time to pop in.

For this week’s London Art Spot, he’s answered all of my (sometimes cheeky two-part) questions about his goal to make traditional figure painting appeal to a more contemporary audience, shares one of the most memorable comments from a buyer and of course gives us an eyeful of images to get a real feel for his work.

LLO: Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity?
PS:
The history. When I go to galleries and museums I think of all the people who have been a part of the city’s culture and I am pleased to be part of that in some small way.

LLO:  There’s sexuality, human form, some religious and mythological elements… Talk us through some of the common themes that flow through your work.
PS:
I would like to think the common theme in my work is humour. Being British I love to take the piss and there is a great deal of tounge in cheek in my work. I started to copy superheros from comic books as a kid. I think if I wasn’t a painter I’d be a cartoonist as I love to have a pop at deserving targets such as celebs, bankers, footballers, the church, politicians, etc. These are themes I return to time and again in my work.

LLO: If we wanted to walk around a recent exhibition of your work with an iPod, which songs would you recommend as a soundtrack to complement the mood of the show?
PS:
The Banana Splits Theme

LLO: You say you want to revive traditional figure painting and bring it into the contemporary world. How do you approach your work with this goal in mind? Which elements are most important to accomplish this?
PS:
Hang on, that’s two questions. Do I get extra brownie points or somthing? I set out to make my work say something to people who may feel that art is just people pushing paint about and slaping themselves on the back for doing so. (Frieze Art Fair). I want them to be able to connect with the painting in a real way, to know what it is they’re looking at and then go on to see deeper into the work. I think that once again humour is a helpful element and of course sex.

LLO: Do you have a muse?
PS:
Me. Sorry, did you mean someone I adore who fills me with love, hope, energy and light? Still me I am afraid.

LLO: One of your other interests is books. What are you reading now? Do you find that what you’re reading tends to have any influence on your artwork?
PS:
At this moment I am reading my Open University coursework as I am just about to start on my history degree. Just wanted to do something fun. You would think I’d say a Nigella Lawson cookbook looking at my work. But apart from those early years reading comics I don’t think what I read (outside Saturday’s Guardian) has any effect on my work.

LLO: Which painting are you most proud of right now and why?
PS:
The last one I did for the Brick Lane show called ‘Lest We Remember’. I am proud of it not because of the painting as such, but of the style. I was running out of time if I wanted to get it in the show so I put the paint on quicker and looser when I realized it had a real freshness and energy. I felt that I was in charge of the paint and it was going to do what I damn well wanted it to do as there was no time for debate. I love Rembrant’s work as it got looser and looser and I thought to myself ‘I get it’. You can’t see a photo of it just yet as it’s still in the exhibition but if you get down to the Brick Lane Gallery before Oct 4th you can see it in the flesh.

LLO: What has been the most memorable comment you’ve had about your paintings? Did you agree with it?
PS:
“How much? You robbing bastard!” No really, it was at one of my exhibitions when a woman came up to me after looking at my piece ‘Soft Cell’ and with tears in her eyes said “Thats how I feel”. Well what could i say? She brought the painting. Don’t think I didn’t notice this question as well as number six was also in two parts. Iam going to put in for overtime here.

LLO: Are there any other London-based artists you admire?
PS:
Luican Freud (is he still alive?)

LLO: What are you working on now?
PS: I am working on a still life called ‘The Beautiful Game’, it’s about corruption, greed and sex within football. So rich pickings there.

Thanks Perry!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.