As many of my readers know, I have been fortunate enough to photograph JR‘s work and his Inside Out Project in cities all over the world (so far, I’ve snapped him in NYC, Toronto, Berlin, London, Paris, and counting! Last year, I was even lucky enough to meet him! When I found out he had a temporary exhibition inside the Panthéon, the most popular secular temple in Paris, where great minds and activists have longed to be buried to throw off the shackles of religion, even in death, I knew it was worth the price of admission.
I’m just going to let the photographs speak for themselves.
HAHA, look at her face.
You should check out my JR Category for more of his pieces that I’ve photographed all over the world.
And of course, check out my Inside Out category. So many great portraits, changing the world.
While in the Panthéon, you have to check out the crypt in the creepy, dank cellar. It’s where the you’ll find the tombs of many of history’s great thinkers. This here is the final resting places of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, respectively). Remember last year in Paris when I found the spot where Victor Hugo witnessed the June Uprising, which in turn inspired Les Miserables?
I also found Zola’s home last year.
Yup, you are looking at the graves of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. DON’T TOUCH THEM, YOU’LL GET RADIATION POISONING! Hahaha, kidding! (Not kidding).
Bless you, Voltaire. Also, have you seen Voltaire? Dude is a silver fox.
In two days, on May 1st, I am leaving London permanently. I’ve been living here on-and-off for the past seven years, and it’s finally time to move on. I will spend a couple days in my old stompin’ grounds of Brussels (SO EXCITED) and Amsterdam (ZOMG), and then will spend about a month in Copenhagen before settling in Berlin in June. This route is almost the EXACT same route I took in 2006 when I was backpacking around Europe (I’m skipping Luxembourg… because, ew).
Anyway, I’ve had quite the journey here in London in the last year, and here are my greatest hits! These are experiences that I couldn’t have had anywhere else in the world. They are unique to London, are very London-centric, and I am all the more richer for having been a part of them:
#1 Obviously, being cast in a TV show
I beat out over 14,000 other applicants from across the UK to appear in the massively-popular documentary series First Dates on Channel 4. I was featured in the premiere episode which millions of people tuned in to see, and was also in the commercial advert for the show:
Read my blog post about my experience here!
But here’s something I haven’t really talked about on here… I was cast in a movie too. I can’t give you any details, but here’s a jolly photograph of me in full costume.
I had to sit in the makeup chair every day for an hour. That’s not a wig, it’s my hair. They curled it, teased it, sprayed it and pinned it, and then had to stitch that hat to my hair. Also, I had to be sewn into that dress. 16th century MADNESS.
When it comes out next year, I’ll let you know.
#2 Getting to climb atop the O2 Arena for free and singing Christmas carols with an entire choir at the summit!
Normally, the “Up at the O2” climb is a pretty expensive adventure activity, but I was asked to do it by the organizers of a social media website, so I got to climb to the summit for free! And the view of London from up there was spectacular! I felt like I was had literally just climbed on top of the world. I had to look down to see heaven. Read my blog post about that experience here!
#3 Speaking at the inaugural Best of Spark London live-storytelling event
(Up on stage at Spark London! I’m 3rd from the right.)
I was invited by the organizers of Spark London, a weekly event here in London where people tell true stories live in front of an audience, to speak at their very first Best of Spark London event! It was a huge honour and I was so glad to take part! You can listen to my story on their podcast of the night here. I’m the first speaker in the podcast, so you don’t have to scroll through the audio to find me! You can read my blog post about that event here.
#4 Seeing the London Symphony Orchestra perform live at Royal Albert Hall on New Years!
I won a contest (huzzah!), and was treated to tickets to see the amazing London Symphony Orchestra in concert as they performed the soundtrack to The Artist live as the film played in the background at the sumptuously-ornate institution of the Royal Albert Hall. Oh the things I get to do for free…. That crossed off three things on my bucket list: seeing the LSO in concert, attending a performance at the RAH, and doing something spectacular in London for New Years! Read my blog post about that incomparable experience here.
#5 Participating in the Inside/Out Project at Somerset House, and meeting street-art-superstar JR!
As you all know by now, street art is MY JAM. I love that shit. I eat that shit up. And I’ve been photographing the work of French artist-superstar JR for years around the world with his Inside-Out Project. So when I heard it was coming to Somerset House, I had to take part! I stood in line for 2 hours to get my photo taken, and it was then pasted down on the Somerset House grounds. When I noticed JR just chilling nearby, I went over, and we had a lovely chat. He was totally humble and cool!
Read my blog post about that experience here!
#6 Dining at the super-secret Gingerline nomadic restaurant!
Here’s something I haven’t talked about at all on here, because Gingerline is SO SUPER SECRETIVE that they ban you from talking about it on social media for at least a month after you have attended the experience. Well, I attended the Gingerline in February, so I think I’m good to go now.
So, last year I read on Londonist.com about the Gingerline, a dining experience that is so secretive, you don’t even really know what you get for the ticket price. All I knew was that they were fully booked for months, so I bought my ticket FIVE MONTHS in advance!
Here’s how it works: You buy a ticket, not knowing where the restaurant is or what you will experience when you get there. On the night of the event around 6pm, you have to make sure you are at one of the stations on the London Overground line (the name “Gingerline” refers to the Overground, as it is coloured ginger on the tube map). At 6pm, and not a minute before, they text you the location of the event. You have exactly one hour to hop on the Overground and get to the location, as they lock the doors at 7pm!
I got there on time, and this is what I walked in to…
This basement in a non-descript empty building in the Haggerston area had been transformed into a spaceship with super-sexy-1960s flight attendants with ginger hair from the planet Gingerline!
There was a huge piece of ginger root in that centre display there. APROPOS.
My table looked like a Star Trek console!
Nah, it’s where the flight attendants would inject you with ALCOHOL.
TV panels advised us of our “flight status” and ‘takeoff’ and “landing” hahahah.
They handed us our meals through the port-holes above our heads!
Here was the awesome menu!
And of course, the whole experience had to be seen through 3D glasses.
I met some awesome people there too!
This was their take on the in-flight safety manual!
LOL at “interphalangial.”
Of course we started a conga-line… which involved a lot of “slut-dropping.” If you don’t know what a “slut-drop” is … just … never you mind.
You go girl.
The artificial gravity unit was operational for me, thank fuck.
Yes, Intergalactic Ginger Mom.
Anyway, it was a great experience, and even though the tickets were £50, which is really too rich for my blood (and out of my budget, ahh!), I decided that even poor lasses like me deserve some kind of quality of life. So this was my one and only splurge for February. I can live with that, and I feel like I got my money’s worth! Highly-recommended if you love the thrill of a surprise!
So there you have it, munchkins! My wonderful life in London is coming to a close, but I know that my adventures in Copenhagen and Berlin will be just as wonderful and splendid and exciting. Because life is unpredictable . . . and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are so many reasons to love London, but life is too short to spend it all in one place.
As one last parting glance at my London home, here is a short film that I made about London’s thrilling street art and graffiti scene.
I hope I never fucking see you again.
If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted many street art photos lately (which usually is what this blog is all about), it’s because I’ve been fiendishly working on this street art short film! I started filming this way back in September and actually had more footage than I could use, so editing this has taken some time! In addition to having a lot of technical problems trying to edit this thinger, I’ve also been busy living! So many projects on the go, it’s hard to sit still!
Anyway, this short film features the works of Banksy, Roa, Invader, Phlegm, Stik, Mobstr, C215, Paul Don Smith, Curtis Kulig, JR and the Inside Out Project, James Cochrane (Jimmy C), Alo, Fred Le Chevalier, Shok 1, and many more! Enjoy!
Speaking of things I’ve been busy with, I was invited to climb atop the huge O2 arena with the Up at the O2 experience. Basically, they harness you up, and you spend about an hour climbing atop this huge concert and sporting venue which overlooks all of central London! But this was special, they invited me to a particular Christmas-y climb where there were ukulele carol-singers atop the O2, singing Christmas standards and serving mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas crackers, and fake snow!
Here’s me in my gear, looking fucking endearing.
They wouldn’t let us take photos as we were climbing for safety reasons. But once at the top, I got snap-happy. Check out the Uke-carol-ers!
We were pretty high up.
La ville des lumieres anglais.
There were many reporters there because what we were doing was pretty newsworthy.
And this was the climb back down. AHHHH. Heights.
It was on this day, the day of the climb, that my short story was published AND I received some wonderful news that I’m not at liberty to speak about now, but perhaps in the New Year I will. I’ve gone into a few meetings for this project, and I hope good things will come to fruition. When I know more, so will you!
In the meantime, enjoy this gorgeous Harvey Milk quote I typed up on my gorgeous typewriter.
“Go after her. Fuck, don’t sit there and wait for her to call, go after her because that’s what you should do if you love someone, don’t wait for them to give you a sign cause it might never come, don’t let people happen to you, don’t let me happen to you, or her, she’s not a fucking television show or tornado.
“There are people I might have loved had they gotten on the airplane or run down the street after me or called me up drunk at four in the morning because they need to tell me right now and because they cannot regret this and I always thought I’d be the only one doing crazy things for people who would never give enough of a fuck to do it back or to act like idiots or be entirely vulnerable and honest and making someone fall in love with you is easy and flying 3000 miles on four days notice because you can’t just sit there and do nothing and breathe into telephones is not everyone’s idea of love but it is the way I can recognize it because that is what I do.
“Go scream it and be with her in meaningful ways because that is beautiful and that is generous and that is what loving someone is, that is raw and that is unguarded, and that is all that is worth anything, really.”
As most of you know, I am a huge JR fan, as I have two categories on this blog dedicated to him – JR category and Inside Out Project category (duh). You should check out those categories to see his work that I’ve photographed all around the world. Anyway, I heard that his Inside Out Project truck was sitting behind Somerset House in London, so of course I set aside an entire day to check it out. Now, it used to be that people would send in their own photographs to the Inside Out website, who would in turn print off the poster for a fee, send it back to the participant, and the participant would be required to paste up the poster in their own city. Now, the truck takes your pic, prints it off immediately, and they paste it up for you in a designated location. Pretty sweet and free! If you’re in London, this is going on only until the 11th, so get thee to the truckery.
But arrive early. I waited in line for TWO FRICKEN HOURS. (Totally worth it of course). BUT TWO HOURS!! C’mon son.
That’s the truck, and the posters would immediately slide out of that slot after the shot was taken.
Me and my poster, feeling pretty chuffed.
And there I am, wheatpasted down to the terrace at Somerset House amongst hundreds of others. I think some people walked away with their posters, preferring to keep them rather than paste them. I don’t know what I would do with a huge poster of myself, hanging that up in my house would be the ultimate act of hubris. I’d prefer to be part of the community. Anyway, go to Somerset House and see if you can find me amongst all the others!
Oh and then I spotted JR HIMSELF (omfg), just chilling and being all cool. I had no idea he would be on site! So this is me gushing, telling him I’m a huge fan, and have photographed him all over the world. He was impressed with my tenacity, and also humbled.
I think I got the hand thingy wrong.
Here’s my poster, I found it on their official website here!
Saint-Viateur and St. Laurent
and the exact same one at night.
Saint-Viateur and de Gaspé
Coloniale and Duluth
Mont-Royal and Rue Pontiac
St. Laurent and Mont-Royal
I have blogged about artist JR’s Inside Out Project in Toronto so much, that surely my regular readers are sick of it. But here in NYC, the project takes on an entirely new dimension.
Using hundreds of carefully organized wheatpastes, JR erected this massive portrait (which is intrinsic to the project) on the side of a building that faces The High Line. if you don’t know, the High Line is an elevated outdoor public garden that is situated on what used to be a freight train track that hadn’t been used for decades. The abandoned track, fallen into disrepair, sat high above the city in ruin until someone figured out the space could be reclaimed for the public. it’s brilliant up there (albeit blistering hot).
the kid looks like he’s sneezing, n’est-ce pas?
so the kid featured here is First Nations. What’s great about the Inside Out Project is that, in developing countries in Africa and Asia, JR has taken photographs of people who have never been able to have their picture taken, and then he blows them up in size, and places them in the subject’s own village. It’s part n’ parcel with the whole By The People For The People mentality of the project.
ain’t i a stinker?
I’ve only been in NYC for three days and I’ve already taken over 300 photos! Bear with me as I try to balance regular blogging with actually going out and experiencing the city! More to come, swearsies!
either this poster has survived unscathed since LAST SUMMER when the Inside Out Project launched in toronto, or THEY’RE STILL PUTTING THEM UP.
JR, i love ya, but let it die.
found in kensington market, under the Dancing Days mural.
spring street in Soho
and of course JR, the founder of the Inside Out Project, is still up to his old tricks by blowing up photographs to epic proportions and wheatpasting them all the city. here are two examples of his work that i found at the infamous intersection of Wooster and Spring street in Soho:
does this look like Daniel Craig to anyone else?
check out my Inside Out category for more examples of this project around Toronto.
months later, i’m still finding wheatpastes from the Inside Out Project that haven’t been damaged or taken down.
i found her behind a dumpster in a surprisingly bright and airy back alleyway.
and i found her, as you can see, awkwardly hiding behind an electrical pole.
check out my Inside Out Project category for more
near church and dundas
college and dufferin
notice how her eyes seem to follow you everywhere?
i walk down the length of the panelling, disgusted to see how some nimrod had given each of the Inside Out faces red bindis (way to give the graffiti scene credence, ya racist twat), when i saw at the bottom one of Deadboy’s signature raccoons.
pointing to the left, so i walked left
another one pointing to the right. realized they were guarding something between ’em
it’s like she’s saying, “i’ve got a secret to tell you.”
for more of his work, check out this blogs’ Deadboy category
some random street art and graffiti shots from around the city lately. #OccupyStreetWalls!
this was in the window for a hairdressers, methinks. offering the amy grindhouse beehive.
looks nothing like the late-great horseface.
i kid, i kid.
so here’s something interesting. i’m pretty sure these shepard-fairey-esque posters are associated with the Occupy Wall Street movements. instead of Andre The Giant, that looks like the face of the Monopoly guy. coupled with fairey’s “obey” catchphrase,” it seems to be a comment on our blind belief in capitalism. did i get that right?
sorry for poor quality, had to take this with my blackberry in the middle of the street with on-coming traffic. it was on the Queen/Dufferin overpass but it’s already gone. if you only spoke english, you would just think this said pain.
but if you’re a bilingual Canadian (aka a real canadian), you know that in french, “pain” means “bread.” and the word is painted on a bread clip.
you’re welcome. il n’y a pas de quoi.
it feels like a silver deposit box?
hee hee. i said “box.”
okay queen street west, these Time Lord tags are everywhere! so much so, that i am going to follow their progress for the next little while.
for those of you who didn’t grow up as a sci-fi nerd, Time Lord is a reference to Doctor Who
and now for some fun: Lines you’ll never hear in an episode of Doctor Who
“Looks like we’ve materialised in the 16th century!…. Oh no, it’s Toronto, 2011.”
“This is not a waste of time. You are a Time Lord! Have you ever given money to the Liberal Party?!“
“I’m here to save the Earth, but as a doctor, I won’t be working evenings or weekends.“
“K9, stop humping the toaster!”
is this part of the Inside Out project? or is the Queen West Antique Centre JUST THAT COOL?
Wheatpaste of a sleeper van.
“this need to tell each other.”
glorious mural near Adelaide & Spadina. it’s of the infamous 1985 National Geographic photograph of the Afghan Girl.
her name is Sharbat Gula.
i can’t think of a more beautiful name.
PARDON LE DOPENESS!
JR is a prolific street artist from France who takes photographs of villagers (who otherwise would never see themselves in glossies) and then pastes them around their villages. In Kenya he blew up these photos and then placed them on the roofs of the houses, so those flying over could see the people below. He also revived my beloved favelas in Rio de Janeiro with the same process. Earlier this year I found out about his Inside Out Project, which funded by a grant he received. This project allows you to upload a photo of yourself, they will blow it up into a poster and send it back to you (for a fee), and then you go about postering your city. I tried uploading my photo SO MANY FREAKIN TIMES but it kept rejecting it on technicalities and stuff, so I said ‘fuck it.’
But in September (again, while I was away, taking the cross Canada train to Vancouver), in partnership with the Manifesto festival (perhaps the largest urban arts and culture festival in North America), the Inside Out project hit the streets of Toronto.
Now that I’m back, I finally took some time to photograph the wonderful black and white faces of Torontonians.
Why oh why was my photo rejected? I’M CUTE, I SWEAR.