Today very creative architect Justine Bell from Dalston E8 welcomed us into her fantastic house!
Can you to tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a young architect originally from South Africa, but I have studied and am working in London. My primary interest within architecture is a social and therefore cultural one, I am fascinated by the many different people that live in London and how so many differing backgrounds, origins and beliefs can coincide and help define one singular city that is London.
How is the area of London in which you live in?
I live in Dalston, which has become rather gentrified over the last 15 years, but before that was quite a poor area, and still has a wide range of people living there, including many immigrants from Africa, I guess this aspect makes me feel sort of at home, Ridley Road provides a small slice of Africa within a western city.
Tell us a bit about your work!
As I mentioned before I am primarily an architect, my drawings painting and photographs are means to help me explore, understand, and re-imagine certain elements of culture, city and history. They could be described as working fragments, or palimpsests whereby I explore and test ideas that I am working with at the time.
Do you think that the area in which you live has influenced your practice? What about London in general?
Certainly it has, it reminds me constantly about the multi-cultural and ‘internationalness’ that makes London this global city, one of my long standing fascinations has been how a ‘mix’ of cultures over time creates hybrid culture that we see today. ( My architectural master’s thesis looked at post-colonial theory and hybridisation in defining the modern architecture in Rio de Janeiro) Immigration and hybridisation leads to new ideas that emerge from the unknown, this is why is makes me so sad to see many countries, including the UK, tightening their immigration laws and trying to keep people out. It is so easy to see how immigrants have shaped cities over history, it should be encouraged and enabled, and borders should be taken down.)
Is there an inspiring spot in your neighborhood that you would like to tell us about?
Ridley Road, and many of the old residential terraces, especially in spring with the Magnolias and Cherry Blossoms in bloom!
Can you talk about your beautiful house and work space? There is definitely a style going on there!
Sadly it is a rented apartment, my partner and I are hoping to be able to afford to buy something soon. The apartment is a period conversion, where the additions were mainly accommodation within the roofscape and some very large roof lights which bring an incredibly bright and changing light in throughout the day. I prefer period properties, I think it has to do with them being old, in the same essence as I was discussing earlier, they seem to contain layers of history, and therefore have more soul in a sense. If I could chose it would be Georgian not Victorian, as I prefer the proportion of the rooms and windows. Although I would certainly not complain about live in a good modern purpose built block, like the Barbican, or the Isokan apartments in Highgate.
Is the any other city that you could see yourself living in?
Perhaps my home city Cape Town or my partners home city which is Copenhagen. We also often discuss living in Switzerland due to the good architecture practices there; however I doubt I will find any traces of African culture in Switzerland!
Do you have any advice for a young artist who is about to relocate to London?
Make sure you have a benefactor or a money earning job to support you!
Thank you Justine for having us, was great meeting you!
You can see more of Justine’s work and her inspirations on her websites