One Sunday morning I got on the 46 bus because there was an hour to kill (love when that happens!) and got off near Warwick Avenue. Do other people do the bus thingy too or is it just me!? As it so happens, Warwick Avenue is close to Little Venice. And Little Venice happened to be transformed into a colourful Canal Festival that weekend. Colourful things teamed up with boats and some really amusing creatures are awesome, so I didn’t have to think twice.
What I got myself into was a huge family feast with food from all over the world, vintage clothes, comedians and of course, spectacular boat trips around “Venice.” The whole place was buzzing and a bit too crowded to be authentically Italian, but I’m assuming it’s quieter and more peaceful, now that the sun has left and the grumpy sailors have pulled those swags (that was indeed the first time I’ve used this word in its literal meaning…) down.
I have been looking forward to this a long time: Seeing Lucy Rose at the O2 in Shepherd’s Bush. Supported by Sam Brookes and Peter and Kerry, Lucy yesterday created an intimate atmosphere that made sure everyone felt like she’s been their best friend since high school. It was the closest gig to perfect I’ve seen in a long time, but the fact that her music is exceptional did help, too. At the end, she asked all birthday kids to come on stage while everyone was singing. What present could ever top that?! So if you haven’t heard of her yet, shame on you, but make sure to click through her Youtube. That’s how I discovered Lucy a while ago, attempting to overcome a nasty writer’s block. Needless to say that it worked.
I love Sundays. They are in fact the highlight of my week. I love having one of those rare lie-ins, a huge breakfast with lots of bacon, some photo trips, new café discoveries with my coffee gals and, to round everything up, going to church in the afternoon. That would equal coming home to a huge living room filled with lovely people that feel like you’ve known them all your life.
Last Sunday morning, there happened to be an exciting thing going on in my neighbourhood. Keats House was opening its literary doors for a vintage market, cake gathering (which might or might not have been the main reason for my visit) and summery joy in the garden. I also met a writer called Charmaine who was mainly selling jewellery and other accessories, all of which looked like they had an exciting history (in the best possible sense). We were chatting about how she’d been working in the publishing industry in New York. Yes, I literally had to be dragged away because I couldn’t stop asking for more little snippets from the Big Apple and journalism.
So all these quirky books, clothes and pieces of art were thrilling enough of course, but so was the sun. There’s nothing quite like Hampstead Heath for a decent focus on the week that lays ahead. I also highly recommend taking a nap in the sun one of its numerous hills, even if it’s just for a couple minutes. Now that summer is fast approaching, I can’t wait to swap the usual café tables for some tree stumps to write on (I somehow needed to make that reference back to John Keats, didn’t I!?) and green hills. Gotta love Sundays!
It’s a bit of a shameful natural impulse of mine to give dull and wintry colours that poetic touch by quickly turning them into moody black and white photos. Yet, I can’t help but see that cold April day in Cambridge with different eyes, now that the photos have that special something that completely ignores the freezing and fairly miserable weather…
But it wasn’t all bad. Having a good stroll through the colleges and along the canal was nice and scenic and everything but the actual highlight could by no chance have been predicted. While eating lots of strawberries, blueberries and chocolate muffins fresh from the market stalls, we suddenly came across an open gate. Whoop, that’s how all adventures from childrens’ books start, right!? Right, so we did the only clever thing, went right through it and felt as if Lewis Carroll had drafted this encounter.
In front of us was a huge and rather abandoned private park with a small house that was framed with ivy and had a view over the river. Luckily, its doors were open. As if that wouldn’t be perfect enough, we came there in the middle of the Easter Break and were therefore not running the risk of being identified as cheeky intruders. After shamelessly indulging in the day of some true treasure hunters, we sadly took the coach back to London, although I’m sure Mr. Carroll had another ending in mind.
The best plan to have when visiting a city that is almost too popular and has been photographed a couple billion times is to leave your guide books at home. That is as true for Paris as it is for the area around the Parc Güell, Barcelona. Allowing you to get lost gives you the right amount of freedom, a curiosity to discover beauty in places that aren’t on your map and to dive right into local oddities. Especially from a photography point of view, that is what makes traveling so compelling and unpredictable.
While this is a collection of photos from all corners of the Barcelona – most of whom I found by accident -, I want to draw the attention to two exhibitions that I managed to visit despite the heat on the streets and the resulting urge to spend every spare second on the beach. The art gallery Arts Santa Monica is just off the city’s main shopping street La Rambla and always has a wide range of different photo exhibitions. The one I chose was called From Here On – Post-Photography in the Age of the Internet and the Mobile Telephone and although experimental art is always worthwhile and exciting, I found the installation rather depressing. Pieces were based on Google Map images, on TV shows and all the digital buzz that takes away the experimental energy and turns it into something really superficial and futuristic. Hey photography, please don’t ever becomes a medium whose content comes from cyberspace and digital sources only. Thanks.
The other, slightly more enjoyable exhibition was a cosy show by the very talented Silvia Conde who took some photos at flea markets in Berlin last summer. You can take a look at the brilliant and quirky photos here. The exhibition was in front a huge co-working space and had a bunch of creatives as background asset. So - photography is only the beginning of something that can only be crazily exciting.
Barcelona‘s youth is the embodiment of coolness and surfer swag. Therefore, skateboards and rollerskates are being used instead of bikes or other boring devices, beer is preferably consumed in parks (throughout the day) and kids are throwing each other into the waves instead of wasting time in front of World of Warcraft.
I shot these photos at the Parc Güell up north, the beach area around Barceloneta, a colorful and laid-back Mercat de la Boqueria, the romantic and energising Parque de la Ciudadela and at the Catalan version of the Arc de Triomf.
By now I’ve probably bored everyone to death with those endless Barcelona posts. But firstly, I just loved it and secondly, the good news is I nearly ran out of new photos and will then move back to local London material that also happens to be fairly sunny (for a change).
Without any further ado – here’s one of my first “videos” that’s basically just an accumulation of moving images that don’t really fit together. What an intriguing announcement, I bet you can’t wait to click the Play button now. Well, the idea was to capture Barcelona‘s ease, especially in the evenings, and to give you a little taster of how amazing this summer will be. I’m not a video geek yet, so forgive the rather average editing/lightning/colour schemes. We’ll get there eventually. Now get in the mood for some waves, skaters and laughter. And let me know what you think about the attempt… This hugely addictive song is called “Little Numbers” by BOY.
The last four weeks from my perspective felt very long and draining, very laptop- and deadline-intensive but as I’m writing this, I can feel the sun tickle my skin and in another few weeks’ time, all the important student problems will have faded away and we can hopefully all lounge around in parks and eat ice cream 24/7! You can follow those and other adventures on here.
I’ve never been a big fan of concept stores. They usually all look the same, regardless of the city you are in: Bare walls, a few racks of clothes from Urban Outfitters and some very original books, preferably called “The 25 coolest Polaroids.” Nope, thanks. So I initially wasn’t hooked when my friend dragged me into the first store in Barcelona and waited impatiently (what would I do without those grand social skills?) for her to finish browsing those extremely “unique” pieces. Well, that was until I opened my eyes properly.
But oh dear, these stores gave “concept” a whole new meaning: Handmade clothes, beautifully designed notebooks, and self-printed dish towels all over the place. One store felt like the cool version of a greenhouse, another one possibly contained the owner’s grandparents’ entire collection of antique nonsense. Beautiful! To fill your hungry minds with some inspiration, here are some names and photos.
The ones I stumbled upon were in Gracia (that neighbourhood apparently really impressed me): Matusalen on Carrer Ramon y Cajal, 29, La A on Carrer Torrent de l’Olla and Magnesia, opposite Lukumas, which I recommended in this post. My highlight though was watching (not to be mistaken with stalking) a colourful sketching and knitting class from outside… So if nothing else, today we’ve learned when to use the word unique without the quotation marks, right!?
Gràcia is a neighbourhood in Northern Barcelona and I found it a pleasure to just walk around without a particular destination. The camera and me had a look at what was happening on the streets that were so blessed with sun and energy, in the middle of what can only be described as a pre-Christmas climate in the rest of Europe. I’m not sure if it’s primarily because of the sun, but oh those Catalans know how to enjoy life in and with the public.
My favorite scene of these wanderings though was my last night in the city, when the Belgian band B Road Bastards gave a beautiful performance in the midst of one of Gràcia’s Plaça de la Virreina. The longer they played, the more people gathered around them, started to sing along and danced on the stairs. Being young, oh yes! Funnily enough, the guys only visit cities that start with a B.