Representations of Animals in the Neighbourhood

In this blog I’m featuring photographs I’ve taken of animals whilst walking in my local neighbourhood. The selection spans both representations of animals and real living creatures, and is chosen from images taken over the past year.

I had a recent surprise encounter with a camel in Kentish Town. I was walking down a side street on my way to the MAP Studio Cafe when I saw a mural I didn’t know existed. It depicted smoking golden camel with some billowing purple smoke, perhaps a play on words referencing the Camel cigarette brand:

I had previously photographed the camel on Highgate Road on numerous occasions (who is also featured on my project Persian Kentish Town). Here’s one from a snowy day in February of this year:

In very contrasting weather conditions a few weeks ago I came across what I initially thought was a sculpture of a cat on a window sill further up Highgate Road near Parliament Hill Fields. I was struck by the shadows on the curtains and how they seemed to echo the animal’s form:

I then remembered I have previously mistaken it for a sculpture, and it is in fact a hairless cat, called a sphynx cat.

Across the road from this house at the bus stop just yesterday, I had to stop and admire this woman’s squirrel and bunny rabbit tattoos. Her name is Lucia:

Next a series of images taken on Hampstead Heath which is a large, ancient London heath, stretching from Parliament Hill to Hampstead and Highgate. I regularly walk on Hampstead Heath, and have done so increasingly since the first London Lockdown in March of last year.

Since the onset of the pandemic I’ve noticed lots of chalk drawings and graffiti appearing on the paths. Here’s one that caught my attention – a chalk bunny with a bow tie, in a power stance pose.

On a bleak December day I walked through a misty, empty stretch of heathland. There was a green trailer parked on the boggy terrain, which had a large cat’s face graffitied on it:

One of the most surreal encounters I had was a few weeks ago. I spotted this man sauntering down the path with a large colourful bird on his shoulder – I don’t know if it’s a parrot or macaw. His name is Anthony and the bird is called Bella:

I’m used to seeing people walking their dogs but this was the first time I’d seen someone with a feathered friend.

There’s an Instagram group that I’d recently been made aware of called #_keepcalmandcarryone_ which features animals being carried by humans. This seems to be an increasingly popular phenomenon, and maybe connected to the pandemic and calming nature of some animals on stress.

Here is a photo of a woman on Parliament Hill holding a puppy:

And another woman carrying her puppy in a stylish bag on the Hampstead side of the Heath:

The other day I was walking up Parliament Hill with my elder son and he pointed out the dog which had placed its paw on the woman’s thigh, in a nonchalant way, chilling out on a bench:

There’s a dog grooming salon called the Mutt Hutt in Gordon House Road by the Gospel Oak entrance to the Heath. They have some stone effigies of dogs by the entrance. In the image below, somebody’s lost hat, an objet trouvé, has been placed on one of the monument’s heads.

In the next image I like the fact the ‘real’ dog is checking out the stone dog. I do to know if the dog was confused, but I like this juxtaposition where the living being and the inanimate are face to face:

Just up the path from there is a tree featuring suspended birds made from recycled clear plastic bottles, painted in red and blue, but weathered by the elements:

Exiting the Heath here’s another suspended animal – this time a bright red balloon dog tied to tree trunk on Swain’s Lane:

And finally, a mythical animal in the form of a unicorn balloon, on the escalator at a quiet Kentish Town Underground station during the second phase of lockdown easing in late April 2021:

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