London, an ever changing metropolis filled with all the life and colour of a cosmopolitan city. I think that not only is London a creative hub filled with inspiring people and places, it is uniquely beautiful in its incompleteness. But coming to London for a visit or even a few weeks is vastly different to living here, I think it's very hard to stay away once you are here a while, as both the dreamy skies and the grimy train station platforms are an intoxicating inspiration for any artist.
The image above illustrates the everyday side of London you may not see on a postcard or hear about through a tourist guide. This is the London that you can fall in love with, a rhythmic dance between architecture and nature, a clashing beauty with a pervading charm. Here you can see a view from the side of one of London's many canals, a sanctuary for wildlife, people and eccentric barges. Within this relatively small place you can see how every kind of lifestyle, creature, creation and idea can symbiotically co-exist; this is why I am here. There are few places where red brick townhouses are host to chip shops, a Chinese, Thai curry, and of course a corner shop, and when you turn that corner a great blue skyscraper is sailing through the clouds. London is where a million hearts write a million stories, together weaving a prismatic tapestry that surrounds and inspires us all.
As much as this is a love letter to London, I also want to be candid, no place is without problems. Here we have poverty, homelessness, pollution and crime like any other city, no amount of charm will alter that. But here I see a chance for growth and change. In London you cannot ignore these issues, they are here. However, this is what challenges the creative mind, it breeds questions and debate, which leads to action and change. London throws the beauty and the horrors at you so that you can't ignore the dichotomy of life. The starling above is sat in a place which is not a native home, nor one unnatural, it lives in a limbo that is modern life, terrible and sublime. Despite this existence seeming like a knife's edge, it is on this line that we ask the difficult questions that help us to grow, find creative solutions and learn.
This sketch I made last year, whilst witnessing a demonstration in the heart of the city, shows just one of many groups, conflicts and ideas you will see whilst here. London has been host to many movements, from suffragists, to anti-apartheid rallies, the EDL and climate change activists, in this city different viewpoints and perspectives will come knocking, demanding to be heard. I think that for any creative it is so important to see, hear and experience other realities, even that of those who we disagree with. Creativity comes when we do away with barriers and begin to discuss and ask questions, this is where we learn and grow. London is not only a platform for this but one of the few places in the world where this is allowed to take place, we have to value and honour this privilege.
I cannot ignore the bubbling diversity of culture that permeates everything. The music, the theatre, the art, graffiti, architecture, it all feeds the creative soul. In one week here you can hear the songs of one hundred countries, see the work of a thousand different artists and listen to a million beautiful verses in a plethora of different kinds of productions. For the introvert, you too are not alone, on a walk through one of London's many green spaces, you will see one hundred faces, all telling stories of different countries, cultures and lives lived. London is more that a melting pot, it is the work of a masterful apothecary, it encompasses all and makes room for every idea; it is the ultimate source of inspiration.
Whilst watching fireworks with friends in a muddy field, as you look up at the myriad of man-made stars, you may ask yourself where one can find nature in this urban environment. It may seem a distant fantasy to walk through forests and wetlands, hills and rivers, and yet it is not. London has it's own green constellations, parks, reserves, botanical gardens and allotment sites filled with character and food for the soul. I could not live here without the nature, wildlife and natural cycles, it is a part of us a humans. Part of the joy of London is how easy it is to escape into a completely different world, one of toadstools and woodpeckers, wildflowers and oaks, here you don't have to give up your soul to concrete.
There is a peace and solitude that is breathtaking even amongst millions of beating hearts, there is a life force so strong it flows through all of the streets, here there is a new story at ever corner that will make you question all that you thought you knew. These skies, their expanse, the silhouettes that frame them and the birds that pierce their eternity are my favourite part of this city. The skies here have seen so much that if you look long enough, you can see in the drifting clouds a reflection, of what has been, is and will be. So, I think I'll leave you with this crimson sunset and try to find a single line to suggest what it is like to live here.
Living in London is like living on the end of a painter's brush, a multitude of colours, infinite possibilities and the joy is that together we are that artist.