Rankin’s Insider Guide to North London

Rankin’s Insider Guide to North London

Ahead of his latest exhibition in Milan,
the British photographer and cultural provocateur Rankin
lets us in on his favourite galleries, the best cafés in Kentish
Town and the benefits of looking up.

The co-founder of Dazed and Confused, who later went
on to launch bi-annual publication Hunger, Rankin is one of the UK’s most revered
photographers. He’s snapped everyone from Keira Knightley to Kylie
Minogue and even made the Queen smile for her portrait, setting a
precedent (and an exceedingly high bar) for photographers capturing
HRH thereafter.

Perhaps most impressively, since 2009, Rankin has managed to
whittle his commute time to under a minute. His studio is on the
first floor of the building and on the fourth floor you’ll find his
flat; he travels by lift to go between the two in a neat 60
seconds. Kentish Town is his base for work and play, and he has a
house in the countryside for when the city gets a little too

A man with Rankin’s street savvy (not to mention his epic
talent) is precisely the sort of chap we want to have showing us
around north
. It’s been his patch of the capital for the last ten

Rankin’s Insider Guide to North London

What’s your favourite image you’ve taken in north London?

That’s hard since my studio is in Kentish Town – I’m shooting
there all the time.

Do your surroundings impact your work?

Of course. I start each day with a walk on the Heath with my
dogs and that’s my time to think. If I didn’t have that chance, if
it was all concrete around me, I don’t think I could be

You’re a longtime north Londoner, how has the area changed
since you first settled here?

I’ve had my space in Kentish Town since about 2009 and since
then it has changed a lot. Older people moved out towards Highgate
and Primrose Hill and a younger generation moved in. There are
creatives, other photographers, studios… it’s a great location. I
would say though, we don’t really need a Pret, Costa, Starbucks and
Caffè Nero all in a row…

How would you sum up your postcode’s dress code?

Lots of black. You look put-together – but trainers are still

One misconception about north London is…

That it’s Instagrammable. Hollywood has everyone thinking of the
Heath and cobbled streets of places like Hampstead. Actually we’ve
still got a lot of “reality” – while it’s not all a great selfie
backdrop, it does make life a bit more interesting.

Where’s good for lunch near your studio?

Get out early and go to The Fields Beneath next to Kentish Town West station.
It’s a really small space with incredible vegan food and great
coffee. Everything goes so quick though, so you’ve got to be on

What do you like about working and living in the same place/

You can only really get to know a place by living there. It
doesn’t matter if you work somewhere during the day, places change
at night.

Where is the majority of your team based?

We have a few people who commute in from Essex and even further
afield, but most of my creative team live in East

Some great local cafés to try out…

The best café is Mario’s Café on Kelly Street or
there is Map Studio Café on Grafton Road – we’re spoiled for
choice in Kentish Town and Camden, really. Just avoid the

Neighbourhoods worth exploring…

Go to Kings Cross; it’s really cool right now. You can see what
students are doing in art and fashion at Central Saint Martins and
get some great food and shopping at Coal
Drops Yard
, which is really well curated.

Independent book and magazine stores to check out…

If you’re in Camden go to Walden Books. It’s tucked away on a quieter street but
is full of second-hand and antique books; there’s always something
strange to find there. There’s also this really interesting concept
store near me too called Insidestore, it sells
international magazines along with well-chosen books on art and
interior design.

The best place to stay in north London is…

The Standard, which has just
opened. You also get amazing views from the upper floors –
especially of St Pancras.

What is your favourite museum/gallery?

Not enough people head to the Zabludowicz Collection. It shows groundbreaking work
and isn’t afraid to show marmite exhibitions – things that split
audiences, you either love it or hate it.

Best spot for Sunday lunch?

Since I don’t eat meat anymore, I’m not going to be able to send
you for a roast. There are some great pubs with nice food though
around north London if that’s your thing. The Lion and Unicorn should be up there on your

Where do you head when you want to get out of the city?

I have a house out in the countryside which I head to on the
weekends with my wife and our dogs. It’s a place to get away from
the noise of the city and just be on our own.

What’s your London secret?

Look up. There are so many interesting buildings around London
which you don’t really appreciate unless you look up and away from
your phone.

What are you working on at the moment, and what’s next?

I have just opened an exhibition in Milan which runs until
I’m doing some really exciting events in the city too, including a
live photoshoot with the only Polaroid 20×24 camera that’s
operational outside of the US. I’ve got a book coming out at the
end of October
of my work with the make-up artist Marco Antonio. The next issue of
my magazine, Hunger, has just gone to press so that will be out
soon too. There’s a lot of momentum right now so I’m just keeping
that going.

Rankin’s first major show in Italy – “Rankin – from
the Portraiture to Fashion” – will be exhibited at the 29 Arts In
Progress gallery in Milan, with the support of

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