Femi: Egyptian for Love … Southbank Skatepark

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged on here as I’ve been fully integrating into my new life in London, settling into and blogging daily for work, in an exciting job in marketing and communications at Chelsea College of Arts, part of University of Arts London (UAL). I have an extensive body of work from my travels and early days in London, which I haven’t blogged but recently showed some of it in a staff exhibition at Chelsea. I felt a sense of achievement from a professional hang such as this. Anyhow…there will be more posting in the near future hopefully now that I am more settled…living in the awesome neighbourhood of Brixton

Today I was in town to see a few exhibitions with a friend. I wandered by the River Thames past the colourful South Bank Skatepark which has been threatened with closure recently by the development of a commercial development. The Long Live Southbank (LLSB) campaign was created and has had support from everyone from Thom Yorke from Radiohead to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, who The Guardian explains has halted the £120m development plan by saying that the skatepark should be left in place.

As we arrived to spectate the skaters entertain, I spotted a real character, who I asked if I could make his portrait. He said a number of people had asked and he’d said no to them…but for some reason I got a yes!


Originally born in Manchester but now living in London, he is called Femi, which after research I see is a unisex name of African origin, meaning “Love Me” or “Love” in Egyptian.


The Colour of Love and the upcoming Valentine’s Day of course is often seen as red, which Femi is currently sporting in his very own way. It’s also the colour of the famous Manchester United football team coincidentally…always a great colour on these crisp days…crimson against the grey of London’s current climate. London is full of fabulous characters to photograph so I hope you enjoy Femi.

©gavinfreeborn (2)

Ayla Dhyani

Ayla was the one who emailed me the invitation on behalf of the family due to the fact that they are a really open, intelligent and cultured group of people. Ayla has some experience with Couchsurfing so she was particularly open to having a stranger come to stay. On the first evening when I arrived (brandishing a box of fruit and veg…as I couldn’t arrive empty handed), Ayla, Nikhil and I spent hours talking and playing music to each other. There wasn’t a dull moment! This photo was taken before we headed out for a day’s trekking and I just wanted to illustrate how important it is to wear sunscreen in Australia..the sun here is harsh as the ozone layer is brutally depleted above it. This was in impromptu shot but I thought it had quite a significance. Ayla will travel Europe from next August and I’ve already armed her with a host of tips and introduced her to a number of people including my family where she will be welcome to a bed in Donegal, Ireland, Manchester and London. Not long finished her HSE, at 18yrs old Ayla is mature beyond her years. Largely due to great parenting and attending a Steiner School, I can only imagine how much more enlightened she will be after her travels in India and Europe later this year!