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!

On cats and cereals changing Bethnal Green

Would it not bother you if Bethnal Green changed then?
Yeah a bit gentrified. But you know what. I’d like the area to be a bit nicer. I grew up when it was rougher in the area around where I grew up here. Do you know what I mean, it was like pubs were dingy. Sometimes I get an argument about that because it get’s a bit too fancy, but I like all the nice things, like you coming in trendier people. Do you know what I mean? I like the change of people that is coming in, it’s nice. Because this area has always changed. It used to be a big Jewish area, a big Muslim are now. But now it’s getting gentrified, now it’s getting trendy area. But I don’t mind it, I like it, some people complain about oh all the trendies, but you got a cat emporium down the street it’s like a caff for cats, we call it the pussy parlour me and my sister. But they call it the cat and emporium.
The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-27And there is a cereal bar, have you seen it? It’s like all American cereal and they charge for a bowl a quarter or something. (You can find that bar on Bricklane it’s called the Cereal Killer Cafe). The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-37But time has changed, people changed our menu has changed we have started doing things we have never done before. You gotta move with the time, you got different sort of customers. We get a lovely mix of people. We get cab drivers, we get travellers people we get doctors, I get everything, I get photographers, but all sorts of lives come in and we try to treat everyone the same. So that’s I think why people like it we don’t say you are like this or like that, as long as they are good nice people I don’t care, as long as they are not rude I serve them. I don’t care if you’re black, white, Indian, whatever you are, as long as you are nice people I serve you. We treat you nice, you should treat us nice.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-33Nevio Pellicci is part of the family running E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road.


 

Let’s talk politics

Is there a need in your community that should be tackled politically?
Drugs, big drug issues but I think that is all over the place really. Lot’s of crack heads and heroin users around here. But I think that is anywhere in London. You could say housing or pull up a number of different issues. I guess one thing that I would like to see would be if they would start making the area a bit nicer. I don’t know, maybe make the area a bit nicer for all the people in the community. When I grew up here there was still many nice clothing shops and other nice places. Today you don’t get that. I mean there is lots of Sari shops around here and them little pound shops and things like that. But We would need it to be a bit nicer. The people in the area are changing so much so quickly. It would be nice to have a good men’s clothing shop here so you wouldn’t have to go to the West End or Westfield all the time whenever you need something. Like a Marks and Spencer or… you know what I mean? Just to make the high street a bit nicer. And maybe make the market a bit nicer cause on the market they all sell the same clothes or all the same fruit and vegetables. I don’t know who buys it but people must buy it. A bit more of a mix would be nice, like Broadway market. That is a great little market that is there.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-4The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-10The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-17The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-18The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-15

We met Nevio at E. Pellicci for an interview on Bethnal Green Road.


 

 

What is your neighborhood in London?

What do you call your neighborhood in London?
Bethnal Green. I was born here, grew up here, always worked here. But now I moved out to the ‘country side’, moved out to Mile End. Do you know where Mile End is? Because Bethnal Green is just a bit too expensive. So I was lucky that I got my place a few years back when it was not as ridiculous as today with the housing prices. I live right by Mile End cemetery, yeah that is right in my back garden.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-13The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-12The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-11The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-2The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-3

 

Nevio Pellicci is the grand son of the founder of family run caff E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road. A place which connects people and forms a small community hub.


 

Fame and Heritage: An encounter

What was your favorite encounter in here and with whom?
Mhh.. we already had many famous people in here but whom did I like best?… Well do you know Mumford and Sons, the band? Well we had one of these guys come in here, Ted. And I actually got quiet friendly with him so I would say that he is one of my favourites. I go with him for a drink every now and then. I haven’t seen him for a little while but he’s genuinely a real gentleman and a real nice guy. But we even had Tom Hardy in here filming a few month’s ago and he’s a real lovely guy. Most of them that come in here they are just normal people. They have that persona that people associate with them so people think ohh, they have played some parts in films, but they are mostly just really nice guys. You get the occasional odd one but overall they are just nice normal people.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-29

How does it feel to carry such a heritage as you are the forth generation that’s working in this café already?
It’s an honour. It something we are so proud of, me and my sister, both my sisters actually. And everyone else who works here seems to be proud to be working here. Cause its been going on already since 1900 and it’s got such a good reputation and so much history in it. So yes I love doing my job. You have got to love doing your job, every one should. Cause if your not happy doing your job your not doing it well. So yes I love doing my job. I enjoy doing it. Sometimes, you know not every day, sometimes you think ahh I can’t really be bothered today but then you just have to get on with it. That’s a bit awkward sometimes cause you have got to be in a good mood. Because if your not, it’s not nice for the customers. So just because your in a bad mood you can’t put it onto your customers. But, that’s not too often. Most of the time I love coming to work and I really enjoy doing it. And I guess I am lucky that I love doing it.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-41The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-42


 

The magic storyteller

We featured Bernadette Russell over the month of June as The Storyteller. A few weeks ago I’ve seen her and her partner perform a play called 366 days of kindness, on the question if kindness can save the world. It was a project inspired by the London riots, which lead her to do one act of kindness a day and documented it over the course of a year. That is one part of her, which well demonstrates her interest in other people’s lives. The other part is the white rabbit in her, which can transform a room into a place of magic, drawing colourful words from a magician’s top hat to create new places, ideas, dreams and lets you enter rabbit holes you would have never thought of.The Minks_Art_Anjo for Bernadette RussellThe Minks_Art_Anjo for Bernadette RussellBefore I start with a painting related to a person, I usually focus on those moments we’ve shared and the things that person mentioned in the interview. I then write down all the random things that pop into mind. This process helps me focus and forms an idea in my head for the painting.The Minks_Art by anjo for Bernadette Russell-1 The Minks_Art by anjo for Bernadette Russell-2The Minks_Art by anjo for Bernadette Russell-4 The Minks_Art by anjo for Bernadette Russell-5The result was an oil painting 30x20cm on canvas paper. Find more on lovely Bernadette Russell here.


 

Of good caff’s and unexpected cat fights

How would you describe your restaurant?
Mhh.. friendly, family run, all home cooking, great food, great.. good service.. some might say great service. Yeah I guess for a lot of people if they come in here they feel like they are stepping into their front room. They come in, have a chat, meet some people they know. Them two guys over there have met each other in here a few years back and now their friends. So its like a real community. It’s a hub for the community.

What makes for a good restaurant?
Good food, firstly, good service. Good food and good service and there is your good restaurant.

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If you would have to pick one story that happened in here over the years, which one would you tell?
I had a guy in here once. Say no names. But he used to come in here with his wife and the kids. And then he started to bring these girl friends in here, which we can’t say nothing it’s non of our business. And then one day his wife saw his motorbike parked outside the café and came in to see him. He is with the girlfriend and she’s straight up clamped the girlfriend in here, in a packed out café, just chinned her. Then he took them both outside and he got some himself there. So it is a good story but then its not really a good story cause he’s cheated on her, but what to say. It’s all finished now. He’s got someone else, she’s got someone else. So everybody is happy. But yeah, at the time it was a bit crazy. There is plenty more stories but that was a pretty unusual one.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-28


 

Let us introduce to you: Mr. Nevio Pellicci

Whoever you may be, we are certain that you have experienced this before; you are sitting in a café, restaurant or bakery and witness perfection. That is an individual that seems to be on constant cruise mode. Whatever he or she does seems to happen out of a gut feeling, an intuition. Should you ever happen to enter ‘Pellicci’s’ at Bethnal Green Road you are going to meet Nevio. Or it may be fair to say that he is going to meet you. You will be introduced to his ‘living room and kitchen’, his family and community. He is one of the people that are exactly in the right place, at the right time, doing what he loves. Running the family business that has been around since 1900 he not only carries a huge heritage but also a magnitude of stories. We got the chance to meet him for the Minks’ 11th interview; and this is it. Get to know Nevio Pellicci a bit closer this September on The-Minks.The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-36

What is your full name?
Nevio Mario Pellicci

Who are you?
I am … a café worker. My family runs a café and my mum is the boss. So I am just a worker (smiles).The Minks_N Pellicci_Interview_London-34

What does this mean to you?
I love it. I grew up in it. I have always been around here. It’s a big part of my life the café. So we would come every night after school. Me, my two sisters and my mum and dad, my cousin Tony and a couple of people who worked here and we would have dinner here every night after the café was closed and then we would go home together. So I was always around here. It used to be different years ago. We did not have the big kitchen like this and we only had the little front room. So yes it has always been a big part of our life. If we weren’t at home we would be at the café. There was always something to do either at home or here. So I would say that I have grown up in here really.


 

Sailing the universe amongst koi and mermaids

The inspiration for this art piece was Christopher Merrick – a stylist at the Clapton Blue Tit Salon. He’s a timid young guy with wise thoughts and a passion for hair, tattoos and music. Art for the Bluetit The Minks_Art by Anjo for Chris Bluetit StylistEspecially his many sailor tattoos and his dreams were inspiring for my painting “Sailing the universe amongst koi and mermaids”.
The Minks_Art by Anjo for Chris MaverickThe Minks_Art by Anjo for Blue Tit SalonThe Minks_Art by Anjo for Chris MaverickFind out more about his neighbourhood, thoughts on community needs and who designs his tattoos here.


 

12 Qs for Mhairi Weir

1. What is your favourite word? Sheer.
2. What’s your least favourite word? Greed.
3. What’s your favourite colour? Brown.
4. What colour or material would be suitable to describe you as a person? Red velvet.
5. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Wide open spaces and big skies.
6. What turns you off? Greed, ignorance, rudeness, Injustice, people being bullied, as for places: litter, people just leaving a mess not picking things up not having respect.
7. What is your favourite curse word? Shit.
8. What sound or noise do you love? Oh this is so cheesy. This is gonna sound really cheesy, but I love the bagpipes.
9. What sound or noise do you hate? Running your fingers down a black board.
10. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? All I ever wanted to be was a journalist or a writer I think that’s still within me.
11. What profession would you not like to do? A banker.
12. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Nice to see you.The Minks Spitalfields Mhairi WeirMhairi Weir, thanks a lot for your time and inspiring thoughts on community and the potential of open spaces!


 

All planned

Where and how will you be living in twenty years from now?
I will be living in the Isle of Skye in a house that my husband and I have built not built ourselves but we have designed and we will have a little bed and breakfast and a small holding where we can just be kicking back and relax.The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City FarmThe Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City FarmMhairi Weir manages the Spitalfields City Farm in the heart of East London.


 

My Children

What was a miracle you’ve encountered in your life?
Giving birth to my two children. Nothing will ever, ever beat that. They were the best two moments in my life and that was just a complete miracle.
The Minks_Photography_Spitalields City Farm_Animals-8The Minks_Photography_Spitalields City Farm_Animals-1The Minks_Photography_Spitalields City Farm_Animals-12

Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields City Farm and has a big passion for community work.


 

Scottish

Do you feel more Scottish, British, European or citizen of the world?
I feel Scottish and then I would say European. I think I struggle a bit with British. Oh yes and citizen of the world that makes me sound quite grand. Ha-haThe Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-145

Mhairi Weir is managing the Spitalfields City Farm.


 

Not the splendid isolation

Britain and the EU, to stay or to go?
To Stay. We are stronger in the EU and diversity works. There is always someone who’s gonna fall out. But we are always stronger than when we are apart and I think to be European and to come all together again it comes back to my thing about community and about sharing and about recognising its differences and learning from that. I don’t want us to go back to a splendid isolation.The Minks_Photography_Spitalields City Farm_Animals-10Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields City Farm. When trying to look for a gift for your lovely partner or a good friend the farm can be a good find also to meet interesting people.


 

 

The litter

What do you dislike about London?
The litter! The litter on Bricklane. The fried chicken shops. You can always tell when you’re back in London, when you see the fried chicken shops. OH I just hate them they are horrible.The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_LondonSometimes litter can seemingly turn into sculptures. But we agree with manager of Spitalfields City Farm, that people should just pick up after themselves and not deliberately destroy Santander bikes or free table tennis tables.


 

 

You can lose yourself in London

What do you love about London?
Oh I think London is the best city in the world. I really do and I never thought I’d say that. London is so cosmopolitan with a huge diversity; it’s just so unique. You can really be yourself in London. Equally you can lose yourself in London too. I can understand it can be a lonely place as well. I love the fact that you have so many different choices and so many things you can go to and there is a lot of stuff that is free. Great transport links. Fantastic transport links.The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-74 The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-42 The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-37 The Minks_Photography_Bethnal Green_London-50

 

Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields Cityfarm. The Cityfarm is the green connecting patch between Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Stepney Green and Aldgate East.


 

The Talking Quilt

Is there a particular story that you would tell about social cohesion?
We have done a project with the university of Brighton and Manchester who have set up an allotment scheme, and set up a bio farm. It started off as people coming together and growing together so we came on board with that and we reached out to do the project and we’ve created the talking quilt.
The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm-43We got a whole lot of different groups in together of all the people who come into the farm and we got them to all make up tiny little squares to put a quilt together. And then we recorded conversations and it was all about food.The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-45It’s interactive you can press the buttons and it will play the stories and conversations we had. I think it’s at the Tate on loan. It’s been exhibited.The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm-107One story was a Bengali lady who came to England when she was very young and she drew a picture of a tin that said Heinz baked beans on it because she was told that was all that the English people were eating, so she was told that she had to get used to eating baked beans and she said at first they got nothing but tons of beans when she got here and she completely hated it.The Minks_Photography_Spitalields City Farm_Animals-11I can remember lots of groups of kids and school children and older people and Bengali people and Somali people all sitting there in the sun stitching and chatting away and it was one of those wonderful moments where everybody came together and worked for that.The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm-103Mhairi Weir is a passionate community builder and manager of Spitalfields City Farm.


 

Volunteers

How is it to work with a lot of volunteers?
Challenging. Very challenging. Working with people in general is challenging. The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm-32But a lot of volunteers have very special issues, poor mental health, poor physical health, drug and alcohol misuse, and equally you have somebody coming in who’s retired or looking for a change in career or taking a break. So you’ve got all these people mixing together, so that’s not without it’s issues. The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm-There’s difficulties with working with vulnerable adults and children and so you’ve got all the usual health and safety assessments policies and such to have in place. As long as you are valuing what your volunteers do and you don’t end up exploiting. But what will happen is that volunteers say “I want to come here every single day and I want to farm every day.” And I say “just come for an afternoon, come for a morning and build up slowly. You’ve got to enjoy it, this is not your work you don’t get paid and it starts to become a chore if you give too much time to it. So that works better. It’s easier to add on to something than to take away. Because then what happens if they feel the impact of working five days they would probably never come back.
Challenges come even down to language.

There is no two days the same and that’s exciting. Yes I love it.The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City FarmMhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields Cityfarm. We met her here in her tree house ;).


 

The concept of sharing

What is it that fascinates you about your job besides bringing people together?
I am really fascinated by community. I’m really fascinated by the concept of sharing because I think we talk a lot about sharing, but the reality is we oftentimes don’t share, or we lost the ability to share and sometimes are so intent on taking everything for ourselves and forgetting about everybody else. The Minks SpitalfieldsI found that a lot in community centres and I found that on the farm as well, that people are all vying in for their own little space and I think the perfect examples are community gardens. The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm When we had to decide whether we turn the space into community gardens or allotments I did not want allotments I did not want that ownership. I wanted everybody to grow together and share the produce from it and I thought this was a bit of a utopian dream. It actually has started to work out really well, not saying that there are no difficulties. The Minks_Photography_SpitalfieldsCity Farm-20But people are really enjoying growing things together and then when they see the fruits of their labour and when they see the harvest and the volunteers feast days they will share recipes and cook something up and share a recipe from their childhood or from a different culture that brings people together. They start to share a lot more. It’s all about sharing, about sharing space, sharing time, sharing everything. That’s what drives me really.The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm-138The Minks Spitalfields CityfarmWe met Mhairi Weir at the Spitalfields City Farm for an interview. She manages the community work and the entire farm with a lot of help from volunteers.


 

More open space please!

If you would have to point out a specific need in your community or in this community what would it be and how would you go about changing it?
A specific need. It’s quite difficult to narrow it down to specifics. I’m gonna use a lot of buzz words now, but I think it’s about community cohesion, it’s about bringing people together and it’s important to have places to have space, where that can happen. And I would like to think that people are enablers to bring people together, who work with the community, who work with the people from a bottom up approach, rather than telling people what to do.
The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-115Finances are always a big thing, but it doesn’t always need a lot. It’s about bringing like-minded people together. So having a place like the farm and having more places like that and where people can come around and all come on an equal footing.
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On one side of it we got people from Shoreditch who have quite large disposable incomes and then on the other side you have Whitechapel and Stepney where there is a great deal of poverty. The farm is kind of in that middle point where people can come together and it doesn’t matter how much or how little money you got. It’s about people enjoying farming and sharing events. The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-96So it’s about bringing people together for that and you need spaces, more spaces like that. And I think outdoor spaces are hugely important. It’s a bit scary going in a building or a community centre which brings people together as well, but a farm is much more open, it’s easier to walk into a farm or a park and feeling a bit invisible to a certain extent without being pressurised so to build up your confidence first. So I think a lot more open spaces is what is needed.The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-50 The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-49 The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-48 The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-47

We met Mhairi Weir amidst animals on the Spitalfields City Farm for an interview.


 

The City Farm Manager

How did you become a manager at Spitalfields City Farm?The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City FarmOh gosh that’s a long story. My background is in community education and community capacity building. And I always worked in the voluntary sector. Probably thirty odd years and my husband works in the financial sector and was offered a leading position in the London office here. He came down in secondment for two years and then they offered him a promotion. The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-7 The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-4So I thought at the time, because the children were all grown up and I was managing a befriending project for people with mental health problems. “Well, I see what’s available in London, quite like to give it a chance.” And I just saw this job advertised and got an interview for it and one at a community centre in Camden. The Minks_Photography_Spital Fields City Farm-59So I came along here for my interview, completely fell in love with the place, got offered the job and never even went for the interview in Camden and phoned them up to tell them sorry I will take the one at the city farm. The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm_Animals-3And I never thought I would get a job on a farm in the middle of London. I have no farming background and have no gardening background, though my background is definitely seated in community and capacity building and education and I see the farm as one big giant community centre.The Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm Urban FarmingThe Minks_Photography_Spitalfields City Farm_Animals-4