12 Months – 12 People – 12 Stories. Over the course of 12 months we portrayed 12 people of London with art, photography, articles and interviews.

Scroll through 12 stories of very diverse Londoners - we've portrayed a boater, a nuclear physicist, a musician and many more- enjoy the exploration!

The London People Project: It’s a wrap

The London People Project’s first phase concluded at the end of October 2015 with the final  feature of a London acquaintance. Having featured twelve people in twelve months we gathered some 380 pages of text and picture content, painted several project related art pieces and filmed some good amount of interviewee related content. This slightly overwhelming amount of information is now condensed available as two photos per person are published. The first photo is always a portrait shot while the other seemed to represent the respective person most accurately in some way. Meanwhile we are in a post-project phase of further condensing and conceptualizing the content and meaning of the project. Enjoy the wrap.

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12 Qs for our 12th person

  1. What is your favourite word? Love.
  2. What’s your least favourite word? Liar.
  3. What’s your favourite colour?Blue. No sorry, it’s khaki.
  4. What colour or material would be suitable to describe you as a person? Green, robust material that’s used for military uniforms. Or blue jeans, but no, I think khaki or green military uniform material.
  5. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Dreams.
  6. What turns you off? Drugs destroy dreams.
  7. What is your favourite curse word? I don’t curse. It’s more in a situation where something just won’t work where I just scream out at some point, out of frustration.
  8. What sound or noise do you love? A nice jazz piano eight finger cord pressed down in a place with great acoustic resonance.
  9. What sound or noise do you hate? The screaming of a baby.
  10. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A music composer.
  11. What profession would you not like to do? Profession is a good word and all work is good work, so there I nothing I generally would not like to do. Maybe not prostitution or being a killer. A politician, is something I would not like to be.
  12. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I would love for God to be there but my mind is too small to believe and talk to a God. I am not an atheist but I don’t know, faith is such a complex thing.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-18 The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-38Thank you Christopher for your time and sharing your life with us. It’s been a great 12th month of the “12 people-12 months-12 stories project”. 

Busking is my life

Where and how will you be living in 20 years from now?
I used to think that my perfect future holds a big house, happy family with my wife and four children, a music studio and a garage for my vintage cars. But today I know that this scenario would have turned me into the mere image of my father. Only work but not time to promise only that one day the cars would be the children’s property. Actually, today being a busker, and making a living this way I have much time for my children. I am my own boss and make my own plans. So this moment right now is great. My life was broken but it was changed for the better. This being said, if I can still be a busker 20 years down the line I would not mind this at all.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-12The fire tuba player, Christopher Werkowitz, is a familiar sight for Londoners near world famous tourist attractions.


 

Music – my refuge

What do you dream about?
I dream about love, like everyone. I dream about the right woman and a good life for my children. It’s a simple life put a life filled with love. It’s a cliché, I know, but that’s what I dream about. But you know, life is more complicated than this and I happen to be married to music now. Music is a beautiful thing, as it gives you back so much.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-14Christopher Werkowicz has been busking for many years all over Europe with his fire breathing tuba.


 

My anti-miracles

What’s a miracle you’ve encountered in your life?
In my life there were many “anti-miracles”. One big one was that the woman of my dreams, whom I met when I was a young man and lost sight of while doing what I did at that time, was already married when I saw her again. In my dreams I was always going to finish school, make some money and marry her. That was always the plan but then she was already gone when the right time had come for me. That’s an anti-miracle for me. Another one was my father. He was a great great man but he never was the kind of father I needed. I needed a father to spend time with and dream about life, the future and whatnot. However, he was never present in these situations. I received many things from my father but not his time. That may be another anti-miracle for me.
The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-90One last story that may be called a miracle, now that I am looking back, was when I encountered a huge stash of machine gun ammunition somewhere in the fields as a seven-year-old. It took me three days in total to dig it all out and bring it home, to then stash in a self-made little basement. Just the thought of myself doing all this as a seven year old and not getting hurt at all, that’s a miracle I suppose.

Christopher Werkowicz is a busker in London, who built his own fire breathing tuba.


 

The vintage Pole

Would you if you were British choose for Britain to stay in the EU?
England is an island it’s an independent country. From a geographical point of view it would make sense to leave the EU. The pound should stay and the good traditions too. England should be independent.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-64

Do you feel more Polish, European or citizen of the world?
I was born in Poland so I am polish, but I am vintage Polish. Because Poland was changed after communism. The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_LondonWe interviewed Christopher Werkowicz in front of the National Gallery, where he enchanted tourists and residents with his breathing fire tuba.


 

London – a kind of Warsaw

What do you love about London?
I guess when I came to London the first time I saw a kind of Warsaw before the second world war. Similar style of buildings, people and more generally the atmosphere. What I love about this country is that I feel very safe. The police, CCTV it’s all working. In the night in Warsaw it’s a problem sometimes.
The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-53What do you dislike about London?
First of all I like London a lot. I don’t like some behaviour of English women, when they speak very loud and use bad language. And drinking women is not a very nice picture. Dirtiness in some area due to the lack of trash bins because of the anti-bomb safety measures.
The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-74 The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-71Christopher Werkowicz is London’s famous fire tuba busker.


 

 

Respect

Is there a need in your community that should be tackled politically?
To be honest, coming from a country such as Poland I see London as a widely well structured, well regulated place. The busking community has its rules. You sign up with the council and receive a permit. It’s very inclusive and people are very respectful in general. Whether it’s car drivers that manage to make their way trough London’s narrow streets or just the occasional, recognizing nod when you’re passing someone on the street. There is no classical Londoner as such and people have learned in this place to live next to different cultures and sub cultures, habits and ideologies. People respect each other that’s what it is I guess. I respect all of this a lot.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_LondonChristopher Werkowicz is London’s fire tuba player. We met him for an interview on Trafalgar Square.


 

Leytonstone my neighbourhood

Where and how do you live?
I live in Leytonstone. I live with two Polish guys. One of which is a bicycle courier and the other a Fedex courier. We have very nice neighbours. A great mix of students and families.

Do you enjoy your neighbourhood?
Yes it’s a great place. It has this village feel to it, is very quiet. I used to live in Upton Park, which is just a very busy and incredibly high frequented area.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-89
Christopher Werkowicz is a well known busker in London and enchants young and old with his fire breathing tuba.


 

Best busking places in London

Where do you usually play in London?
There are over 20 to 25 places. Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, South Kensington, sometimes Brixton. Now that I have a car I am very agile and therefore able to move around quickly if need be, also outside of London to play at private events. The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-21

Do you have a favourite place in London to play at?
My favourite place is near London Bridge. There is this special corner with the greatest acoustics but at times the residents complain so the sessions tend to be rather short.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-30
Christopher Werkowicz is a well known busker for London residents and his fire breathing tuba is part of the tourist attractions.


 

From censorship to flying tubas and Dali

How come you started doing what you do today?
Well I guess I have got to start my story at the beginning. I used to work for the Polish television and Polish radio. However, there was increasingly a problem for journalists to report the truth in Poland. After all there is many kinds and versions of the truth. Basically after the “accident” of the Polish president Kadzinski, my hope to have normal work in my field was lost. Many times I brought interesting material to my boss only to see more than 50% of the content censored. So after having worked for the Polish television and radio for more than 20 years, I decided to leave this world behind and became self-employed. The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-24So I started my own film equipment company. It was a good time but I could not stand the crazy hours anymore as 24hour days became even for me to be a little bit too much work. I am after all 52 years old now. It’s not such a big deal if you are in your twenties but if you’re my age you should not have to work that much anymore. I have already struggled enough by having four children and gone through a divorce a long time ago and I wanted to rest at least a little bit. So after I finished running my film equipment business I had a little bit of money on the side and my therapist told me that I should do something that I love doing. He told me: you are an inventor, you are constantly building things, so why don’t you turn this hobby of yours into a job? So basically he told me to try and turn my crazy hobby into something I can make money with.
So I started thinking what I could do. I though of survival courses, basking and god knows what. After all street basking has no great reputation in Poland, whereas in England street basking has a long tradition. I, however, play the tuba and the piano. The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_LondonI love Brass bands and marching music and I used to play the tuba in the fire brigade back home. So this thought popped into my mind. A fire tuba. I remembered from back when I was a kid, my father took me to a Salvador Dali exhibition. I don’t know why but in my childhood memory a painting of a fire tuba is linked to this exhibition. Now I know it’s not a fire tuba but a fire giraffe and a tuba somewhere in the sky but in my head the two got mixed up.The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-24
Today the fire tuba project is complete and I am hoping to keep making money with it all over Europe. When I started experimenting to build a fire tuba it was at times very unsafe. There was a problem with the old motorcycle ignition I used and it was just a big hassle. But as it stands today it is very safe to handle this beauty.

I have already played in Berlin, Bratislava, Paris and actually in most European capitals. Always for 3-5 days at a time to then moved on. One time I ended up in London for a weekend and immediately loved the friendly atmosphere. The basking system in London is very open to everyone and the audience is the best one in Europe. I usually adapt my tunes to each nation’s heritage to relate better to the audience.

We met Christopher Werkowicz when we walked around London and were completely drawn into his art of basking, as he has the ability to transform big tourist squares into places of magic.


 

Art inspired by the Spitalfields City Farm manager

The Minks_Art_anjo_for Mhairi Weir_Spitalfields City Farm-14
We portrayed Mhairi Weir in August as the 10th person of our art project. She runs the Spitalfields City Farm. A lot of it is about community work and bringing people together. The Minks_Art_anjo_Spitalfields Cityfarm-6My painting is inspired by Mhairi’s inclusive personality, the need she sees in open green spaces to bring people together. The massive Bengali squash which grow in locked up green houses so they aren’t stolen also left quite a vivid image in my head. The colour spectrum I used reflects Mhairi’s material she thinks would best describe her, which is red velvet as well as her favourite colour brown. The big circle is a reference to the talking quilt project Mhairi Weir launched, where all sorts of people from the Spitalfield area got together to stitch a patch of quilt and record their story about heritage and food. The green area in the background symbolises the shape of Spitalfields Park and Farm – an open green space.The Minks_Art_anjo_for Mhairi Weir_Spitalfields City Farm-8 The Minks_Art_anjo_for Mhairi Weir_Spitalfields City Farm-2The Minks_Art_anjo_Spitalfields Cityfarm-2 The Minks_Art_anjo_Spitalfields Cityfarm-1The result was a 30x20cm large oil painting with multiple layers of glazed oils and scraped away patterns.


 

The Polish in London

There is a growing Polish community in London. Do you have many Polish friends here?
The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London-1Not too much. When I moved to London I came here to do basking and I met many Polish people that are not of nicest kind; homeless, drinkers, not bandits but aggressive. And it was the first time for me to see this many drunken Polish women sleeping on the streets. There are obviously not only Polish people on London’s streets struggling with live, but it hurts me most to see my countrymen and women like this. But as I am doing my own thing and have my own challenges every day, I try to avoid such people mostly.
The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London
We first saw basker Christopher Werkowicz in front of the Science Museum playing his self-invented fire puffing tuba.


 

The Fire Tuba Player

Now the days have become longer again and The London People Project’s first stage reaches an end. The quest for our 12th person was eventually successful, as we re-found our long lost fire tuba player.

One Sunday I thought to myself that I would go check if he would be playing at Columbia Road Flower Market but in the end never made it there. Luckily when walking to South Kensington from having visited the Serpentine Summer Pavilion, I noticed a guy with a packed up tuba leaning against the Science Museum wall. I asked him if he was the fire tuba player and if he’d be interested in being our last person for the London People Project.

May we introduce to you London’s famous fire tuba player Christopher Werkowicz.
The Minks_Interview_Fire Tuba_London

What is your full name?
Chris. My full name is Christopher John Werkowicz. There is a John tradition in my family. My father, grandfather and grand-grandfather all were Johns.

Where do you come from?
I am from Poland originally. I was born about 20km from the capitol of Poland that is Warsaw. A small city with around 100’000 people. It’s a very nice and green place. Very quiet.


 

12 Qs for Nevio Pellicci

  1. What is your favourite word? Shit.
  2. What’s your least favourite word? Wow, cause my sister would say it is awesome. Awesome is my least favourite word.
  3. What’s your favourite colour? I like green actually I’m quite a green man.
  4. What colour or material would be suitable to describe you as a person? I think like a real sexy green. What is a sexy green for you? Sofia tell him what a sexy green is. I reckon a little bit of rough a porky suede.
  5. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Hm like excited? The Caff, my wife, I love spending time with my family I don’t get so much time, so I’m really looking forward to Sunday off. Hmm what gets me excited Tottenham, smoking. I used to smoke all day but now it’s gotten better with the baby.
  6. What turns you off? Horrible people, nastiness.
  7. What is your favourite curse word? Ah no you know what I like saying is cunt. But in a nice way, not in a nasty way.
  8. What sound or noise do you love? I like the sound of spurs going a gold, the sound of a stadium when there is singing.
  9. What sound or noise do you hate? Arsenal scoring a goal. How is that sound different? When they score we are really sad.
  10. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? What would I have liked to have been apart from working in the caff hmmm. You know I’ve always done this for like 20 years. This is always what I wanted to do. Maybe an engineer or something creative, like helping a machine. Not technology wise but more like actually building something. I like computers. I would have liked to design and build something. Maybe even an architect.
  11. What profession would you not like to do? Black cab driver, sitting in traffic all day I think that would drive me a bit mad.
  12. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? The spurs have just won the league. No I would like him to say, everybody has been waiting for you, your mom and dad are here.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-35

Thank you Nevio for sharing your life with us. It was a inspiring to see how you have the talent to connect strangers and to make a little caff in a big anonymous city a friendly cozy place!


 

Half half

Where and how will you be living in 20 years from now?
On a beach, India, the tropics, I don’t know. I said to my wife I would like to live six months in Italy and six months over here. She’s Irish, she probably wants to live there for six months. So that would be like killing myself. Haha no I love Ireland. Yeah I miss London when I’m away. I don’t know 20 years. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop working I might get too bored. I usually get four weeks off and comes the fourth week ah great Lisa, we’re back to work, great, yeah you know what I mean. It gets in your blood, my dad was terrible for that. In the third week he would start thinking about what he needs to order for the caff. So I think it gets in your blood.
The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-21I’m not sure. I would like to live six months in Tuscany six months in England.

Nevio Pellicci has helped in the family caff E. Pellicci ever since he was little.


 

 

My mom, my miracle

What’s a miracle you’ve encountered in your life?
My mom. What a miracle my mom is, my dad was a great man, but what a miracle my mom is. I’ve never met anybody like her. She’s a miracle. She would always forgive, never hold a grudge do everything for you. Yeah my mom is a miracle. And my little baby. I can’t miss out my little baby Elena. She’s 16 months. Yeah my mom and my baby are my miracles.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-30

Nevio Pellicci works at the family caff E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road.


 

I like the British currency

Britain and the EU to stay or to go?
Stay. I feel it’s got to stay really in the EU. Just cause you get a lot of the European people to come over. You get no grief when you go out of the country. I don’t think we should change to the Euro because I like the British currency but I think it’s good to be part of the EU you don’t want to be left out of that.The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-84Nevio Pellicci works at the family caff E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road.


 

Italian and from Bethnal Green

Do you feel more British, Italian, European or citizen of the world?
It depends yeah citizen of the world I think. When it’s about football I’m a pure Italian, but other times I try to be from Bethnal Green. So it works a bit both ways.The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-106Nevio Pellicci grew up around Bethnal Green and works in the family business E. Pellicci.


 

The mix in London

What do you love about London?
I like the mix of people. You can go down Roman Road at 1 o’clock in the morning if you’re hungry and get something, or there is always a bar or club, but I don’t go out anymore because I’ve got a baby, so I don’t go out really. But when I was younger, you know, I liked going out and meeting people from like Australia and India and wherever they are from.
The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-15 The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-22 The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-54 The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-78What do you dislike about London?
The pace, the hectic nonstop sometimes I would like for it to go a bit slower. It’s my like and dislike. I do like it sometimes and sometimes I think oh bloody hell. You know what I mean, you feel a bit knackered sometimes. I love London, I love the mix and that you can go one place and get that, and if you need this you can anything you want.

Nevio Pellicci works at the family caff E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road.