Flâneuse Forever

London is my home town.  It’s not where I was born or where I grew up — those were several suburban areas in the midwest and east coast of America.  But London is where I moved to in 1990 and, but for a long stint outside the M25 at the beginning of the millennium, it’s where I’ve been ever since.  London is where my children were born and where I’ve never felt lonely.  One can meander across the city on mostly quiet streets, a host of green spaces as well as cultural and shopping districts.  With a mobile phone, it’s hard to get lost.  Everything that I need, apart from my family  in America, is here in London.  I feel like I can dip into and out of the centre on a whim.  And where I live in Kew is largely quiet (apart from aircraft), clean and green.  I have a small patch of earth that’s my garden, a cat and a dog and a tiny terrace house where we dwell.  I take comfort in knowing my village well and that it changes very little.  And I’m also relieved to know that I’m never restless here — within the 100 square miles I know, there are an infinite number of things to see or see again.  I find wonder in the wander.  I’m the epitome of the metropolitan flâneuse.

The phenomenon of people taking photos on smartphones of one another and of themselves are ubiquitous – pretty much wherever there are people.  The hundreds of thousands of these portraits and selfies end up on social media for friends and followers to respond to.  When it comes to photographic portraiture, the most significant inspiration for me is the American enigma Vivian Maier because, like her, I try to capture moments that encapsulate personality, circumstance and feeling in one shot.  And so for the past three years, I’ve been snapping pictures of people I see in my patch of the world and the journeys I’ve taken in and out of central London.  So most of the photos of subject on the tube are on the District Line.  Unlike most of the other photos I post on Instagram, I’ve edited all of these in black & white (again with a nod to Maier), though some with a splash of colour where the individual, setting or story were enhanced.

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In creating this large montage, I took inspiration from an exhibition of Ellen Gallagher’s work at the Tate Modern back in 2013.  She’d had almost an entire wall hung with black and white portraits, with an additional yellow plasticine-looking hair cover on each.  It was a strange and wonderful piece that I’ve never forgotten as each panel was fascinating and together they formed a visual community that also revealed Ms Gallagher’s interpretation.

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I’ve called my work #TheLondoners because this is how I tagged the individual portraits when I posted each on Instagram.  I hope that my fascination with and affection for real Londoners are apparent in my work.

My piece appeared as part of the Orleans House Gallery‘s recent Portrait Exhibition which has been on display for the past few weeks at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond -upon-Thames.  

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portraitopeningI was so thrilled that my older daughter and her boyfriend were able to comme celebrate with me at the opening.  And also present at the opening was the fabulous frame maker, Sue Harper of River Crane Framing of Twickenham.  She did such a beautiful job.  And I’m so grateful for her support and all the fantastic work she’s done for me.