Siana was interviewed by the FT’s Layli Foroudi about the changing face of London, along with the likes of Asif Kapadia and Philippe Sands. Check it out in the FT Mag HERE.
Early cultural memories of growing up in London?
I hail from south-east London, so the vibrancy of older west African women on a Sunday — in their Sunday best, out proudly — is a fond memory. It took me a while to appreciate the importance of this visual representation of my roots.
Essential London venue growing up?
KOKO in Camden. When I went through my emo and goth phases, I spent every weekend at Camden Market finding band T-shirts, music and obscure art and fantasising about what my next piercing would be.
Essential London venue now?
I spend a lot of time in Common House, Bethnal Green. I and a group of other dedicated leftwing activists maintain the space, upholding the co-operative radical grassroots spirit of commoning.
Key London place that shaped your work?
I love the SOAS University students’ union. Unlike so many other uni spaces, the students have done a lot to open it up to the public and make it less of an ivory tower.
What is it that you most miss about London as it was?
There was a time when London was for Londoners. Now it’s all about the corporates and the capitalist machine. Gentrification has dismantled many communities but people are still hanging on.
What’s the thing you like most about London culture today?
I like that the creative scene continues to thrive, and that the landscape is increasingly being shaped by young black people and people of colour, often with limited resources but lots of determination.
One inside tip for new Londoners?
Go to Peckham, get your nails done and just people-watch.