Studio 1850

Urban Jungle

"When you’ve spent time working on and off in London for the past four years, in between living at home in Edinburgh and studying in Cornwall, it can be difficult to understand the kind of relationship you’ve formed with it as a city".

A piece by Megan Fatharly

For me, London was always somewhere I could only do for a day because of the manic pace of it. I am like that as a creative, swiftly moving around from one thing to the next, and in London I sort of feel I get swept into the current of busy life. In Cornwall, we sort of had an understanding with each other. I was manic and when it got too much, I threw myself to the ocean to let its waves switch me off and swim my troubles away, no matter what time of year. The sea was one thing I could and can always count on, to create some kind of balance in my life again. I think this comes from being brought up by the coast in Edinburgh, where I was born before moving south. However, I have learnt in time to tame the chaos of London and have found pockets within the urban jungle I can find solace in. It is in these spaces, mainly which are outside, that I have drawn, written and continue to return to for constant inspiration. 

Firstly, we have St Dunstan in the East – a church that was bombed in the war, and has since been nourished and turned into a quiet green space amongst the city skyline. I first came across this space about 6 years ago, photographing and documenting it through drawing for a project. I think because at that stage I was still very naïve and young in my creative thinking, I was only just touching the surface with how I was exploring it. Since then I’ve gone back at night to capture it – I am really entranced by the juxtaposition of new and old structures within the city, but also the way light – natural and man-made – are introduced to the surroundings. I went back a couple of weeks ago to draw, as I had been struggling with a massive creative block since graduating - I captured some of the shadows, working in situ with wet materials, trying to fully immerse myself in its surroundings. I think the beauty of this being an open public space is that anyone can utilise it. I was there for a few hours and all walks of life situated its ruins. The city high-flyer on his lunch break, the photographer capturing the life through a lens and people just appreciating the place for what it was.

Continuing with this love for the urban jungle, one of my favourite spaces is The Barbican Conservatory, which is open on Sundays and Bank Holidays. This makes it more special when you go because it’s not open all the time, it does make it quite busy, but it’s worth it. I love glasshouses and the idea of nature being contained and contrasted with stark brutalist architecture and lines of the city, that always inspire me every time I go back. It is somewhere you can just sit and listen to the world around you, take in the sounds of the running water, the conversations from fleeting moments between strangers, all amongst a vivid green backdrop. 

For ages I would always plug myself in when travelling around London, because it is highly stimulating; well for me, because I am so in tune with my surroundings... I think this comes from being a creative and so visually and mentally led. However a couple of weeks ago I lost my ear phones, so this meant I was left open to the elements of London. At first I was a bit overwhelmed because I had been so reliant on my music as a comfort, but in time, I have become accustomed to what is around me. I have actually really enjoyed taking things in that I would have other-wise missed. I have however, created a playlist or a ‘safe space’ of music for you to listen to if it gets too overwhelming being in the city. It’s a collection of songs I listen to, when I haven’t lost my headphones (!), and am on the go...

Listen to the playlist


All content courtesy of Megan Fatharly

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