Goodbye LLO: The Last Post and a Giveaway

 

Please note: Little London Observationist blog will no longer be updated. Please find me over on Little Observationist instead.


On May 17, 2009 – exactly five years ago today – I started Little London Observationist with a single photo of a corner shop window on Kilburn Lane. The message in the window said: “Newspapers, Stamps, Sandwitches”. It was the beginning of my hunt for the little things, the small observations of life in this city that was still very new to me at the time.

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Over the next five years, LLO grew and grew to the point where I was posting seven days a week at one point. The posts grew longer, full of stories as I explored more of London and got to know some of the people who have called this city home. One of my favourite parts of building this blog was the people who brought it to life. I interviewed 87 artists for the London Art Spot series and 83 additional Londoners for Listen to a Londoner and all of them inspired me in one way or another.

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I wrote 1,084 posts, just about all of them full of original photography. I met many fascinating people through LLO and blogger events, some of whom I became friends with in the real world. It has been an incredible way to discover my adopted city as an expat.

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It is bittersweet to announce that I have decided this will be my last post on Little London Observationist.

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When I first moved to London in 2007, I spent every single weekend, spare moments after work and sometimes even lunch breaks running around the city with my camera, hopping on to buses heading to destinations with which I was unfamiliar and alighting at the most random stops. I wanted to find the hidden gems, the tiny quirky cafes and the colourful back streets. And I did.

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And in making those discoveries, I carved out the parts of the city that I really connected with and that helped me to change my London from the sprawling metropolis that it is to a place I can call home. Now, after living here for seven years, I still crave new discoveries, but I also long for familiarity – places that are mine, that I can return to over and over again, where the people making my tea know my order by heart, where people in my favourite shops welcome me back with a smile, where I have a seat by the window in cafe that always makes me feel inspired every time I sit there. I have these things now and I’m really enjoying them. Maybe it’s because I turned 30 in December, but London feels cosier now, less intimidating, but still exciting with the world at my fingertips.

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The honest truth is that running all over the city on public transport every second of my free time no longer appeals quite as much as it did to me before. Sometimes yes, but not enough to create enough compelling content from all over the city for LLO as consistently as I used to. I also find that I travel a bit more these days, I have other projects I’m working on and different interests that I’d like to focus on that don’t fit in with the content and vision of LLO.

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I’ve had a blog on one platform or another since 2002 and I’m not going to stop anytime soon. It’s a real passion for me (and possibly an addiction). And so, this is simply a change of direction to match my change of focus. As most of you probably already know, I started writing Little Observationist in April 2013. I update three times a week. I post London content there, but there’s also photography from my travels, the little things from everyday life and recipes too. I welcome you all to follow me there, say hello and let me know you came through LLO.

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What of the content from the last five years of Little London Observationist? It will stay here. The blog will stay live as people stop by every day for the archived posts. I also hope, at some point after my wedding this year, to start compiling some of the best bits into a book. If you are or know of an editor / publisher who would like to work with me on this project, please get in touch. You can reach me at littleobservationist@gmail.com.

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Most importantly, I’d like to end this last post by saying thank you to all of you who have contributed to LLO through interviews, guest posts or photos and to those of you who have followed me on my journey here for the last five years. Your comments and friendship have made it all entirely worth it and I hope to see you over on Little Observationist as well!

THE GIVEAWAY

As a thank you to those of you who follow me over to the new blog, I’m going to give away one of the canvas prints that was featured in my solo exhibition in November. It’s a photograph of Big Ben and the lamp posts South Bank, worth £300. The link will take you to Etsy where you can see the measurements and the story behind it. A winner will be selected at random from those who enter and notified by email.

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TO ENTER

1.) Subscribe to updates from Little Observationist either through Feedly or another RSS reader or by entering your email address in the box at the top right of the blog.

2.) Like Little Observationist on Facebook.

3.) Leave a comment and let me know you’d like to enter! Be sure to leave your email address.

DEADLINE

Saturday, May 24, 2014 (This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Ian of London Unveiled!)

Cheers,
Steph x

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Six Days Away

I’m off to Dublin for a week, partly for work, partly for fun and partly for TBEX, but I will update when I return.

Since it’s payday for most of us in London, if you’re feeling generous please do sponsor my first solo photography exhibition. There’s some cool rewards for backers as you’ll see here, and you can give as little or as much as you like as a pledge. If you enjoy LLO and can spare $5 to help me out, you rock and I’ll owe you a glass of champagne on opening night. Seriously, even $5 will make a difference. It can be your good deed for the day! And thank you to those of you who already have.

Here is the kickstarter page link. You just have to click the green “back this project” button on the right and put in a few details. Donations won’t come out of your account till October 24 and and only if I reach my goal… Help a London blogger out?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/140183162/little-city-observations-photography-exhibition-in

Here’s a photo of The Chance Gallery in Chelsea where my exhibition, Little City Observations, will be held November 11-17. Mark your calendars.

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There will be an opening night on the 11th, but I’m also thinking about organising an LLO meet up the night of the 12th so you can all come by and keep me company. I’d love to meet all of you if I could! Let me know if you’d be interested in a comment and I’ll see about organising it.

Here’s one more photo before I go. This is street artist Paul “DON” Smith with one of my prints that features a piece of his street art in East London. He’s painting a mural on the wall of a new cafe we’re opening at work today and was proud to pose next to this print for me. It will feature in my exhibition and hopefully “DON” will pop in and say hello on opening night too.

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Have a great week everyone! I’ll update mid-next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on Little Observationist. There still some posts lined up on my new blog through this week.

My First Solo Photography Exhibition

I have some really cool news to share with you guys today – I have been offered space at The Chance Gallery in Chelsea to hold my first solo photography exhibition this November! So excited!

Little City Observations^ ^ ^ PIN ME, PLEASE! ^ ^ ^

There will be lots of London images, printed on canvas, as well as a few from my travels to other cities. The exhibition will be called Little City Observations.

To raise the cost of printing and the gallery fee, I’ve created a little Kickstarter page and it would be really really wonderful if any of you are able to sponsor me, or even just share the link on Facebook, Twitter, or in a blog post!

There’s some fun rewards (coasters, postcards, prints, notebooks) for anyone who can toss a few pounds my way. It would really mean a lot if you could support me in some way.

Here’s a little video, and there’s plenty more about the rewards and other fun details on the Kickstarter page.

If you haven’t used Kickstarter before, know that if you do donate to my creative cause, it wouldn’t come off of your card until October 24 and only if I am fully funded by then.

So, what do you say? Make my day, support LLO and sponsor my first exhibition? I’ll owe you a drink or two at the opening night event and a huge THANK YOU!!

New Secret Theatre Brings Street Art to London’s SW7

London, as we all know, is heaving with secret little gems – La Bodega Negra in the basement of a Soho building with a sex shop façade; breakfast in former Victorian public toilets like The Attendant; the Secret Cinema, prohibitions parties and all sorts of entertainment – and now, The Street.

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I may be biased because this new theatre space which was just built inside the study abroad center, CAPA International Education, where I work full time has seven large canvas prints of my London photography on the walls.

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But it’s genuinely an awesome space for both exhibitions and performance with its fancy sprung floors, thick black box style curtain, lush velvety red curtains at the back and special lighting.

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In fact, it uses new LED technology that’s supposed to revolutionise the theatre industry over the next decade and this is the first installation of its kind in the UK. They even have a fun disco setting where the lights switch colours in response to sound.

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And my favourite part about it? It contains some original street art from the fabulous British paste up artist D7606 who created a special traditional London phone box at the entrance to the theatre (first photo) and a freshly-painted mural by London-based Italian street artist RUN. (Speaking of RUN, his new Village Underground piece is now finished as well!)

RUN in progressRUN’s mural before the lights and floor were installed

I had the pleasure of meeting both D7606 and RUN as they worked on these new pieces, creating a bit of street art in West London where it’s seldom found outside of the little Ladbroke Grove bubble near Portobello Market. This is on Cromwell Road, SW7, where you would definitely least expect it.

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The space was built for a new Theatre Studies program for American study abroad students who come to CAPA London, but it will also be open for public events like exhibitions, open mic evenings, storytelling events, etc for the London community as well. Watch this space for upcoming events.

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The name of the theatre came from a student who said his academic program here was great but he learned so much out there on “the street”. And it’s true – as much as you can learn in a classroom, what you learn on the street is much more raw, gritty, the stuff of real life.

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We launched the space earlier this week with a street theme. We had international street food catered by Incredibly Fed.

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Garry Hunter was there to sign his book, “Street Art of the World” which was a giveaway gift to each of the 50 or so guests.

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Clementine Lovell and her Pop Up Opera came in for an energetic performance of two one-act operas – Donizetti’s Rita and Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona.

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I interviewed Clem about the Pop Up Opera which was on LLO on Monday and worth a read. She started the group with the idea of making the art form more accessible based on her experience with the more down to earth approach to opera in small Italian villages during her operatic training.

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They sing in Italian with modern English subtitles, translated in a way that makes it funny rather than directly from its original language.

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They use all sorts of props – from Nutella to a morph suit with balloon muscles to strands of rope.

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They ran among the audience quite a bit, chasing each other, rolling around the floor, singing directly to people.

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My front row knee was used quite a few times as a random place to leave props from these claws to a Muscle Men magazine.

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It was all very entertaining.

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Before, during intermission, and after the show, there was plenty of mingling.

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And a few celebratory drinks.

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My photos, below, are hanging out on the walls of the theatre with the captions beneath them.

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It’s an exciting new space both for the students and the London community who will also have access to this hidden gem of a creative space for a variety of interesting events coming soon!

Brrrr in Borough Market and Beyond: A Photo Walk

There are a few reasons why I love a good lazy Saturday afternoon browsing the stalls in Borough Market.

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The smells, for one, are reason enough to return time and again – melted cheese bubbling and browning on fresh bread, Summer scents of sweet red strawberries and perfect plump tomatoes, perfectly brewed coffee smells wafting out the door of Monmouth wrapping through the inevitable queue lined up around the corner.

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The reason I ventured east a few weeks ago with Carolina and Leslie was mostly for their fabulous company but also for the food: roasted duck piled into fresh ciabatta rolls. Yum!

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Can’t believe I haven’t had a chance to put these photos up yet! I’ve been busy building websites for my dad’s business, Sadler Garden Collections and now my brother’s Sadler Fence and Staining. My dad’s site is finally live if you want to stop by and see what I’ve been up to: Sadler Garden Collections.

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The other site will probably take me the rest of the month to finish, but after that, the blog should be more alive! Anyway, throughout this entry are some of  my photos from that Saturday, finally.

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Come along, I’ll take you on a little walk…

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Curvy little narrow cobbled streets surround Borough Market and I love to explore them (not great in heels if you’re wondering).

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You know the phrase “In the clink”? It came from the famous Clink Prison on Clink Street. It was burned down in the riots of 1780, and of course a tourist attraction in the form of a museum you can tour sits in it its place.

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None the less, like much of London, it’s an area steeped in rich history. It’s also the location of some pretty popular films and TV shows: Oliver Twist, Doctor Who, Bridget Jones’s Diary and An American Werewolf in London all contain scenes filmed on Clink Street.

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Just around the corner, in another nod to history is a replica of the Golden Hind, which circumnavigated the globe in the late 1500s, captained by Sir Francis Drake – one of those names that takes you back to childhood history classes.

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It’s always surrounded by tourists (and people like me) pointing their cameras.

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But it’s easy to see why. It’s colourful, first of all, but it also has lots of lovely little details.

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On the other side of the market is the Southwark Cathedral, a beautiful building that is a little slice of history in its own right.

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According to their website, “Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London, and archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that.”

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Near the side of the cathedral, just outside the market, there are a bunch of seats so we settled in there to eat our duck rolls, brushing the flour from the tops of the rolls off of our faces and coats every few minutes. Delicious!

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With frozen fingers and toes, we wandered through the winding side streets in search of some tea and came across this little door (which is smaller than it looks) and an old Banksy piece next to it.

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On the nearby Vinopolis Piazza is a fun, Crayola-coloured canopy of umbrellas.

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I’m not entirely sure why they are there (feel free to enlighten me), but I think they’re pretty fabulous.

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One more close up…

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After an afternoon of constant girly chatter, giggles and tea, we parted ways and I decided to walk back to Chelsea for some fresh air. Took a few hours!

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There was a lot to look at along the way. Architecture, mailboxes…

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…some left over graffiti from the Olympics.

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I wandered down The Cut, past the painted Lord Nelson pub.

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Upper Marsh Street (where my favourite Scooter Caffe lives) and through the Leake Street graffiti tunnel.

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There were tons of artists working away and of course the intoxicating scent of spray paint.

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They’ve even painted the bins.

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From there, I found myself dodging tourists on South Bank, but I stopped for a shot of good old big ben with one of the fish on the lampposts that line the river Thames.

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From there, on over the Westminster Bridge where one of the lights on the corner had burned out. As a friend pointed out on Flickr, in that location you would think they’d have fixed it!

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After that windy walk, I put the camera away and stuffed my freezing fingers into my pockets. You can see from this last photo what I mean. Brrrrrrrrr!

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The end. Hope you all have a fantastic week ahead!