If you want to know about a city, you ask its inhabitants and those who work in it. We’ve gone one step further however.  We’ve asked the talented Southwark-based artists who are exhibiting at our current exhibition – London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature, to explain how London and in particular, the Borough of Southwark, continually inspires them and their artistic endeavours and how visitors might tap into this important city of culture.

This is Natalja Sigalova’s London.

How does living or working in Southwark inspire your artworks? – I love Southwark for its diversity, its hustle and bustle but also its quiet corners, there is a little something to please every taste. Depending on my state of mind, time of the day and year I find different things inspirational. I like observing people when they rush into work in the rain or try to catch a train at the beautiful London Bridge Station, laughing children splashing in the fountains in More London, unexpected little pockets of green with pretty flowering plants, the lights and empty streets at night, the sun rising over Canary Wharf while walking into work along the river and watching the City wake up.

What attraction or aspect of Southwark would you recommend to a visiting tourist? – I live close to the River Thames and for me that is London’s tourist destination No. 1 – just walking down the Southbank and taking in the atmosphere. During the summer there is a variety of open air entertainment along the river: from free music performances and plays to exercising outdoors. One also gets the best views of the City and discovers many cultural aspects along the way: from theatre and buzzing markets to exhibition spaces. My favourites are two extremes: the monthly Uniqlo Lates at the Tate which get really busy, and the Bankside Gallery (Gallery of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers) next door, which offers a peaceful escape from everyday life.

Does the long history of the Borough have any legacy bearing on your work, given South of the River was always the haunt of the artistic community? – Ever since I went on a guided walking tour down the Southbank I am mindful of the history which surrounds the area from London Bridge down to Shakespeare’s Globe and as it happens I walk that way quite often and thinking about it makes me smile. I find it fascinating every time I see Southwark Cathedral with the Shard in the background or when I pop into the Bridge Theatre and see the majestic Tower Bridge. The contrast of old meeting new, especially when it’s a combination of architectural styles is what makes me excited and inspires my work.

How important, as an artist, is it to be in the capital? – London offers endless opportunities to evolve, improve and get discovered or just create for oneself. There are plenty of choices and lots of sources for inspiration accessible to everyone regardless of one’s preferences and technique. I especially value free galleries and art exhibitions with big names from around the world and newcomers alike, and the affordable workshops and classes, which allow me to work on my existing skills or discover new territories.

Do exhibitions such as London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature help to publicise your work/help your artistic CV? – I am truly thrilled to be contributing to this year’s exhibition and sharing the space at the London Bridge Hotel with wonderful local artists. It is my very first exhibition and the support has been incredible, I feel motivated and inspired to do more work for the public eye. I would like to express a huge thanks to everyone who has been involved in the OPEN 3 project and made it an exciting journey for me. I wish the best of success to my fellow artists.

What do you most love about what artworks you produce? – I used to enjoy drawing but with my life getting busier I no longer take time to create space for me to draw. Photography is liberating because it is flexible and on the go, I see the results immediately. It makes me feel really happy when a shot turns out to be the same as the picture I have in my head. It is my way of writing a diary, I capture moments which when looking back at the images would trigger certain memories; with sounds and smells, my mood and thoughts at that particular point in time. I also use photography as a medium to communicate with my family who live back in Germany, as they say – a picture can tell a thousand words.

Natalja’s work Upside Down is currently displayed in Quarter Bar & Lounge. A colour photograph, sized at 13cm x 13cm – framed size 25cm x 25cm – her artwork is priced at £50 with frame.

n.sigalova@gmail.com

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