In this series, Artefact gets a glimpse into some of London’s creatives’ favourite spaces to create.
Episode one – Nour HassaïneImagine this. You wake up one morning and the sky seems grey but your bed is warm. There’s a smell of coffee in the air. Your favourite blouse has a fresh scent. The bus ride is smooth. And lastly, your favourite spot by the massive window is free. It is a perfect day to create.
Nest, episode one, drops you right into the 20-year-old writer, Nour Hassaïne’s world. One early afternoon in October, I got to meet her for a walk that led us right into a jungle.
Nestled in Central London, surrounded by the busiest streets and loudest urban noises, you could never imagine that a building in renovation would host the writer’s unique hideout, just one elevator ride away.
The home of Dazed Media, Nowness, and much more is also the hard shell protecting a green paradise. At level one of 180 of The Strand, you can find The Store, a big wide room decorated with wild plants and wooden furniture. On one side, a café, on the other, a massive window. In the middle, Nour’s nest.
Nour Hassaine is a journalist and photographer who owns enough different shades of red lipstick to match every occasion. You can probably find her wandering around London with her analogue Nikon camera or writing in her notebook in cafés like The Store, but in the meantime, you can say hi to her on Instagram at @everythingart1998.
Episode two – Sophia Cristina LauricAs the sunlight poses on the wild field the artist is painting, time stops. The sound of brush strokes on the canvas is the only noise in the room and it feels as natural as the sound of singing birds waking you up in the morning.
I take a look around and I feel overwhelmed. There are huge canvases everywhere: laying underneath the bed, standing in line on the floor, hanging on the walls, one next to the other. They represent a period in time dealing with a feeling of sorrow yet to be overcome.
Years of work are gathered in a little space that probably had no purpose until fine artist Sophia Cristina Lauric came along and made it her nest. And surrounded by her past, I wonder how can one dream with so much weight above them.
Nest, episode two, shows how important it is to be in connection with your own art in order to keep creating.
Sophia Cristina Lauric is a Romanian fine and digital artist who lives thousands of lives through the canvases she paints. Sensitive and authentic, she speaks from the heart when talking about art and how much it means to her. You can usually find her teaching others about virtue and technique, but in the meantime, you can ask her anything at @sophiacristinalauric on Instagram.
Episode three – KhunCouveAs KhunCouve slides the key into the heavy oak door, I stand there wondering if I am about to enter some sort of fantasy world. The images online do not show you the path to the underworld: the concrete wall, the overwhelming darkness while you catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
When walking those few steps, you feel like a six-year-old running to the tree on Christmas morning. And as the excitement rises and a chilly breeze passes through your body, you finally see, with your own two eyes, photographer’s Paul Couve famous home garden.
Looking from far, you don’t really notice its charm, left alone the treasures hidden behind leaves and bushes.
Nest, episode three, takes a better look, wandering around a bit to (spoiler alert!) find out that there are thousands of handcrafted golden eggs, lego men and growing cherry tomatoes.
Months of work wrapped up into one place gave life to the two handmade books laying on the kitchen table. One black, one white, the covers speak of different times. Day and night, summer and winter, KhunCouve shoots and writes. And all, in his nest.
KhunCouve is a photographer based in London who would make you a fine cup of tea if you’d ever have the chance to pay him a visit. He’s usually at home, hanging in his garden (but let’s be real, who wouldn’t?) and at times, you can probably find him a concert or two. But in the meantime, say hi to him on Instagram at @khuncouve.
Episode four – Petulia MattioliIt was a sunny day in January when I met her. I remember getting lost around small London streets, with Google Maps in one hand and a coffee in another, struggling to see the screen because of the intense sunlight.
Arms wide open she welcomes me. In the background, I could hear her husband’s records playing in a room upstairs and the kettle of boiling water in the kitchen. She was making tea for both of us. The faded music transported me from the doorstep, up the stairs, right into the living room where I sat on the white couch looking at the sunshine outside the massive window.
A vinyl, that’s how she describes her career. Side A. Side B. One for her graphic design work and another for her wild experimenting side. And as we talk more about her minimal fantasy of an ultimate space, I realise her whole life is a vinyl.
Toys, pictures, a pile of books, everywhere I look there is a filled space, incrementing visual artist’s Petulia Mattioli daydream of an ideal nest: the escape from routine, the open road, the one book that inspires her and four walls of pure nothing. She’d be ready to flip sides at any time.
Nest, episode four, looks at how the less you have, the more you can create.
Petulia Mattioli is a visual artist who believes creatives shouldn’t be tied up to one category. Having many skills is what she believes to be the greatest asset of all. You can usually find her going for a walk to clear her mind and let new ideas surface, but in the meantime, you can find her on Instagram at @petuliamattioli.
Episode five – Elisa ArlantWhen she talks, the room illuminates. She starts painting colours with her smile, her cheerful passion, her contagious childish attitude and your day gets so much better. You feel inspired, you feel artsy. She is the essence of the cure to your artist’s block.
As we met for the first time for a coffee in a common place, our connection seemed to instantly be the opposite of common. As she recalls it, “in just five minutes, our conversation was running like a calm river.”
Smoothly, fluently, and with so much excitement. Immediately, she confessed that she can create everywhere, as long as she feels good with herself and her feelings. “Within me,” she kept repeating, and it gave me goosebumps. I remember to have remained fascinated by her confidence and connection with art, and how she was yet so remarkably emphatic and willing to help. What had initially seemed to be an insignificant encounter, turned out to be a special bond as soon as I set foot in that cafe.
Nest, episode five, and last, shows how there is no better place for inspiration than your inner self.
Elisa Arlant is a 360 degrees artist who is never afraid to take risks. Where her dreams are transporting her, that’s where she’ll book her plane tickets to the next day. So you can probably meet her for a coffee in London today, and she might be on her way to NYC a few hours later. But to make sure you catch her at any time, connect with her on Instagram at @eliarli.
Feature image by Irene Chirita.