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LEE //

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Well Skinhead culture it come from Brick Lane and my mum and dad were skinheads so i grew up in the same sort of clothing and stuff like that, there’s no racism in my family or anything like that… we’re like what you call Trojan Skinheads, the original skins where we just like dressing like skinheads looking like nutters and going to reggie parties.

Well i get judged on the way i look, a lot of people sort of think I’m a Nazi Skinhead without actually knowing like what it’s all about n stuff, so they come up to me and they sort of say “i must ask, are you raciest or are you one of the nice ones?” so i just say I’m one of the nice ones and thats it.

I grew up in East London, Bethnal to Islington to Stoke Newington down to the Marshes, that big area there.

 

BONZO //

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I'm Bonzo aka Frances living in Hackney Wick for the last 20 years Painting out of a coffee shop Thingy which is, all my god, is a blessing I've come for one coffee shop from another in Hackney Central, now i’m back to my home part of Hackney. I love art, i paint for me my followers and my children I always say I painting for my kids. I don't paint for money I'd rather spend all my money on art then eat.  In 1999 I crashed and burnt and ended up depressed, went into hospital, met some people that was all art orientated, i invited them to my house and they would paint 300- 400 pictures of night. I like oils, I tried to paint with acrylics but the paint was drying too fast. With oils it's like playing with clay, a bit like playing in Sand Pits in youth using my hands and I just love manipulating it. I used to paint for Mission Impossible the Thames Outreach project helping the homeless, the mental health and they gave me a platform. It took me about 6 months to find out who I was, I took myself along with Thames Outreach to the deputy prime minister's office (for a show) Going there was nice, it was an experience I've never experienced before in my life, I was like wow! It blew my mind to see my work right there in the office and I was interviewed by The Times and the Guardian, they ask about my influences which is Van Gogh and the response from that was nice. From Thames outreach I went to another organisation cord core arts for mental health because I was under the mental health. At Core arts I saw a kiln and some clay and in the first month I must have made about 80 pieces (of work) I was told that I was prolific and I need to go see other artists like contemporary ceramics to see where I'm going, they inspired me and I inspired them with what I made and the colours. Art is my life, I die to have to do something else and not do art, I know my vocation. I’m a hands man, i’ve always worked with my hands and textures, the textures comes from sanding down cars and putting on poly filler when I was a teenager working in a garage. Art is not about money for me when I first started they were always saying you know what this is worth? a lot! Money means nothing to me, just to do and see the colours in my work gives me Joy.  As a child, London was a big playground, I had no riens, we would go cherry picking, blackberry picking, apple picking in people's gardens with my brother. We were just explorers, anywhere we went we just wanted to know, there's not one part of London that I've not been to. I lived in Sweden for 2 years and that really got me into artagain, going to the galleries the National Gallery and I was inspired, that was 30 years ago. London has changed because as a child maybe there was two cars to every 10 people but now has 20 cars to every 10 people I could breath then but not now. The people have changed, the demographic of people has changed, the area is more of thinking of rich people and forgetting the poor people. Hackney was rich then went poor and now it’s got rich again, it's like a cycle of rich poor rich poor. Now the hipsters are coming and I thought to myself nah I can't mix with these people but they were nice so now I get on with everybody because I have to. People tell me that I've changed, I used to have a barrier and I didn't want to know anybody's problems because I have my own problems but now if I can help somebody with their problems, yeah, it betters is me too. I was a bad man but not a bad bad man, I didn't know no better, I was whipped and beaten as a child so that just made me go outside and do different. But life is a learning process and I have changed. I have kids now and I want them to do right not wrong because it's hard in this life if you are person of colour or poor because people like to tar you with a brush and they would stereotype me asking if me if I was a drug dealer etc. Until the gentrified people talk to me they would make their own assumptions, they were blinded by what subliminal messages society to gives them. They don't see what I do, I teach children art, the very same gentrified people's children. Community is a family not individuals, it's a community that brings up a child. The community is just a special place and in my community it's a village and everybody knows everyone, everyone says hello to everyone.

 

GORDON //

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I'm a Londoner I started rowing down here when I was about 12 years of age so I've been round down here for the last almost 70 odd years using the River Lea and being a member of the lea Rowing Club. I was born up the road on Morning Lane not far from here, I had an aunt who lived on Lauriston Road which is very close to Victoria Park. Spent many happy at time around in that area but then I moved to Tottenham on to Southgate where I live now. I came down here as a boy, I was a boy Coxon, they needed me because I was small and young and enthusiastic about the river and rowing and it started from there. It was about 1948 49 when I actually started coming down here properly, I was more of a spectator in the early days and then it just caught on. Then I was asked to steer a boat and away we went, I've been down here ever since. The areas changed dramatically, the rivers changed, in the early days horses pulling the barges along here which caused numerous lots of problems with the tow ropes that went across the river, you had to be carefully you didn't get caught up on the wrong side of that as you would be in big trouble. Now we don't have that trouble but the river is a bit congested. At the moment the river is much better it's much cleaner and everything is good. I'm 85, everybody seems to think it's silly but i’ve been rowing so long it has become second nature, it comes quite easy to me, must be in my Genes really. I just get in a boat and I go and the doctor's and the nurses think “you still rowing at your age” but it's working. If I don't do rowing or if I sat on my armchair watching television my joints would become short of rigid and I wouldn't move. But for now (rowing) comes quite easy.

 

KITTEN //

I go by many names, my real name is Sarah but my family call me Sally my friends call me Kitty or Kitten my work friends call me Mogs... so I have plenty of names. I guess I’m a chameleon in that way. I've never felt attached to my birth name, I let people call me what they want. It’s about expressing the different sides of me, expressing different personalities that I have, exploring different thoughts of who I might be.

I am neurologist scientist and I study Alzheimer's disease, I'm studying the genetics of dementia so we are looking at trying to find out about people who are protected from the disease and use that to find treatments that may protect other people from this disease.

My hobbies are climbing, painting, DIY, I love to make furniture and decorate my flat and make it very personal. I even make lots of crafty gifts for people, I'm just into anything I can do with my hands.

When I was doing my PhD... PhD is a very lonely thing to do and especially in London it's very difficult to make friends and one day I just thought, you know, I really needed to make some new friends and people who are like me, who are a bit unusual and weird. So I started this Kitten group since it was one of my nicknames and I advertised and it was for young professional women, working in London looking for friendships and you get people from all walks of life in this group and it's really hit off. We have nearly 100 people come to our events and it's just a place where it's such a nurturing environment, where we all look out for each other, we all support each other in our different jobs... it's become something very beautiful and I'm very proud of it .

The Kitten group is a judgement free environment where you can express who you are, there's no shame in maybe mental health or anything else that may be going on in your life and people can be very open about who they are... there is no taboo topic.

 

TORQUIL //

I’m the Pastor for Frampton Park baptist church, based in Hackney. I have a wife and four children. Our symbol is a mosaic which is little broken pieces coming together and thats the way I see church.

I didn’t grow up in a christian family, I’m one of eight children, my mother was married 3 times, we are a mixed race family, my oldest sibling was blonde hair blue eyed. It’s was and still is a very loving family.

As a child I lived all over south London, and if i was to be honest I would of classed myself as the hidden homeless because i didn’t have a fixed abode for a period of time. My parents moved to Skegness and I moved with them for a year and half but it wasn’t for me so i came back to London and found myself quickly in a homeless situation after falling out with somebody.

During that time I went through a period of you know life is just one big party and then i just had this moment of realisation that i felt very empty and surely theres more to life than this. A good friend of mine had given me a bible. When I found myself in this situation of desperation I thought I needed help so i turned to the scriptures and feel in love with Jesus. Basically the way i see it is that Jesus is God entering humanity to redeem it and show us the way.

After that I found a job then a got a bed sit and I haven’t looked back since.

 

NIGEL //

I’m 50 years old, been in the cab trade 15 years now. My passion and hobby is rugby, a life long Saracens supporter, season ticket holder and a extremely happy man because we can’t stop winning, what more could a man want.

We’ve been been through a little bit of turmoil through the east end, theres a lot of changes going on with the businesses with the arches, change in landlord, also increases in rents has put some businesses into trouble. Fortunately we’re ok, we’ve got quite a good customer base but it obviously (still) makes a difference to us.

I originally come from Leyton but my wife she was born Whitechapel, my grandmother on my fathers side use to own a house just off 3 Colts Lane here before it turned into a park n that. As a kid we use to go out first thing in the morning come in late at night, (We’d) go all over London, there were no limits to where we would use to go, (It was) good time with all the friends playing out n about in and about each others houses, you know we never really use to watch telly, it was just a great childhood. The difference now is I just notice the pace of life has changed in London, everyone is in a rush busy looking at their phones, rather than looking at people and i think we are losing the art of conversation. We’ve banned phones at the dinner table. It’s amazing when you go to a restaurant and see a family on a table, everybody is on their phones and i think they are missing out on some good conversation. It cost nothing to say hello.

 

ABIDA //

You have to excuse me, I’ve been sick in bed for the past few days. I’ve been doing lots of random things recently… so i’m trying to try new things, often every week… I went to the Sky Gardens, that’s really nice... I’ve been going to all the museums… the thing is i’ve lived in London all my life but never really done (things) oh I went to Buckingham Palace the other week when the weather was ok. I guess what i’m trying to say is there’s lots in London to see and do and people to meet that I’m trying to be open to those things, which is why i said yes to you. I like travelling, I like learning languages , I’m a sign language person. Every time i travel I learn a little bit of the language where i go cos I think you learn more about the place and people if you can at least try an communicate with them. I’m listening to radio at the moment, I’ve been ill in bed so i’ve not read the news or listened to any music recently, so I’ve just put the radio on to see whats going on.

 

DARREN //

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I’m originally from South Africa, I moved to London two years ago for a new beginning. It’s a beautiful city with lots of nice skate parks. Working in an office for me was pretty shit so i tried to find a job with less hours. Now i get to BMX 2 to 3 times a week if i’m Lucky, it’s a bit dangerous but i like to live life on the edge.

 

BALUGUN //

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I’m a Londoner born and Bred and lived here all my life. Originally from north west London but now live in west London between Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove, I like it here it’s a big carnival area and i like the community. I have friends and family here and it feels like my natural home. I like the diversity (in London) there’s always things popping up, it’s full of music enthusiast, arts enthusiast and sports enthusiast… there’s always something for you. I’m a big Sri Lankan cricket fan.

 

JOYCE //

I came to London for love, I met an Italian in Naples while on vacation from Venezuela and he totally charmed me. My mother told I was too young to fall in love with an Italian. Anyway he said we should get married and move to London for work, that was 20 years ago. I grew up fast but my husband never did, we divorced 10 years ago and I couldn’t be happier.