Estimated reading time:4 minutes, 54 seconds
Everyone has a story. Kimi Gill has both lived and worked in Islington and now she’s offered to use her brilliant photography skills to pep up the photos on Islington Faces. Please enjoy this interview and here’s looking forward to a fab collaboration. Interview by Nicola Baird
“Because I move around a lot – I’ve only been back in Islington since December – I like to make friends or connections wherever I am,” says Kimi Gill. Kimi, 47, is a talented photographer who has offered to team up with Islington Faces to provide some fabulous images for the interviews. And she’s super-friendly: it was Kimi who contacted Islington Faces and suggested we meet for coffee at Oasis Café in Highbury Fields (read the interview with Oasis’ owner Yehia El-Nemer here). Turns out that meeting in the park suits our furry friends – Islington Faces’ office dog, Vulcan, and Kimi’s sweet companion, Dottie, who she is looking after while a friend holidays.
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“I just talk to anyone! It’s the way I am, perhaps because I am an only child. My parents would say ‘go and talk to someone’…” says Kimi. “Islington Faces fascinates me because you learn about yourself when you talk to other people. Hearing their stories means you start to understand yourself and feel more connected and part of the community.”
Kimi was born in Paddington, brought up in Staines and spent a good chunk of her adult life in Nottingham. But she’s got close links with Islington.
“I used to live on a boat, Footloose, behind the Angel, at Wenlock Basin. It was a really nice life. In that environment you always ran out of things – like coal, wood – and you had to rely on each other.” Kimi has also worked at two Angel-based charities. In 2010 she was at the National Autistic Society on City Road and then moved to Cancer Research UK in St John Street, or “across the road” as Kimi puts it. Kimi then quit PR and retrained as a photographer.
She’s also spent 20 years living in Dalston so has gone out a great deal in Islington and Stoke Newington.
Places Kimi Gill likes in Islington
- “I live in Canonbury close to the Snooty Fox, 75 Grosvenor Avenue, N5. That’s a really nice pub. They do a quiz night and some of the vegetarian food is good.”
- “I come and walk on Highbury Fields – it’s nice to have a dog to exercise.”
- “As an Arsenal fan it’s nice to be close to the stadium.”
- “I took some photos at Islington Boxing Club, 20 Hazelville Road, N19 and really like it. Like all sports, from chess to football, it’s a mix of attack and defence. So much can happen and there is so much passion in people’s faces – anger, frustration and joy when they win. I like that extreme of emotion and I love the outfits – the gloves, the boots, the whole look. It’s raw, sexy, primeval and honest, so you get some really amazing photos.”
“I’m a bit acclimatised to London and I don’t like that. I can get easily absorbed in my phone or my head and not be present, or seeing what’s going on around me. In London you feel you’ve got to be busy to try to make the most of every moment. It’s a sad dystopian vision but if you looked down on London from above – and in Islington it’s the borough with the most single people – you’d see everyone on their own on their computers or phones trying to connect with each other. I feel it suits the government if people don’t talk, because whinging to ourselves doesn’t achieve anything. You never know who you’re sitting by!” she explains.
Kimi’s advice for getting to know people is very simple, smile. “It doesn’t often get me into trouble,” she jokes. “You don’t get many weirdos, smiling out weirdos the weirdos.”
On the move
Unlike many people who have to move homes often, Kimi is incredibly positive about renting. “It’s actually fun. I get sad when I leave, but I’ve always found that the next place is better. It’s fun meeting neighbours, finding local shops and exploring the neighbourhood.”
Hopefully Kimi’s collaboration with Islington Faces will lead to some brilliant photos on this website, and maybe even a book, recording everyone’s stories in a way that rekindles and reinforces readers’ love of people and places in Islington. In the meantime you can enjoy her photos by visiting her on-line photo galleries…
- and for Kimi’s wedding photos see http://www.khushtiphotos.com/
Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or even suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com.