Charlotte Bland, London
Images by Ho Hai Tran
Charlotte is a photographer who specialises in shooting interiors, food and travel on film with natural light. She lives here in a small Victorian terraced house, on a quiet, tree-lined street in Dulwich, SouthEast London with her boyfriend Matt and their Tiny Cat.
“I did an Art History degree but taking photos is all I ever wanted to do. My dad gave me my first camera when I was 5 and I’ve been fascinated with recording everyday things, domestic environments and how people live ever since. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to turn this fascination into a job, and I often have ‘pinch me’ moments, like a recent commission for the department store Selfridges where my photos of everyday interior moments in my own home were displayed along a length of windows on London’s Oxford Street as part of the store’s ‘Our House’ campaign, exploring what makes a house a home.”
“[There is a] a cherry tree right outside, framed in our bedroom windows. In the spring the windows fill with bright pink blossom and for a week or so there is a pink carpet of petals outside the house. I love that I live in zone two - fairly central London - and can watch the seasons change in real time from my bed, via the tree outside the windows.”
“We have a rather wild back garden with lots of jasmine, geraniums and a few fruit trees. It’s definitely untamed but it has character and spirit, and Tiny Cat likes having her own jungle. I was so pleased to get a bumper harvest of 16 pears this autumn, from the tiny espaliered tree that grows along the fence, and last year’s olive ‘harvest’ was so good we now have jars of our ‘Dulwich olives’ for future aperitif snacks.”
I was so pleased to get a bumper harvest of 16 pears this autumn, from the tiny espaliered tree that grows along the fence, and last year’s olive ‘harvest’ was so good we now have jars of our ‘Dulwich olives’ for future aperitif snacks.
“I’ve spent the last 15 years studying furniture upholstery. It’s a vast subject with so many different options - every chair is different - and I feel I’ve just scratched the surface of it but it’s a really great thing to do. Much as I’d rather be in a darkroom my work life is increasingly spent at a computer and upholstery is a complete departure from that. There’s no room for computers and iphones in the workshop, it’s proper manual work and I love it. Stripping back an old chair, restoring the frame and then rebuilding the upholstery with traditional techniques is really satisfying.”
There’s no room for computers and iphones in the workshop, it’s proper manual work and I love it.
“We’re really lucky to have a working fireplace, something I’d been after in London for a long time and every year I look forward to lighting it. It’s a real joy and very good for toasting crumpets. “
“I shoot a lot of colour and pattern in my work but prefer to come home to a calm, simple and more neutral space. Some of my inspirations are Scandinavian and Japanese minimalist style and the interiors of Axel Vervoordt and Ilse Crawford and I love monochrome and a limited, pale palette. It’s a little controversial at a time when maximalism in decorating is making a huge comeback but I really love beige! Matt works in Adtech, loves gadgets and is a huge audiophile, so we have lots of monochrome audio equipment in the house which balances out the more muted, neutral tones.”
“William Morris’s beauty and use saying is often quoted but it’s very true and I try to use my precious things every day instead of saving them for best. I have lots of ceramics and glass that were gifts from friends and I’d rather use them and chip them than have them sat in a cupboard.
One of my favourite objects is a small, glass Dala horse that I found in a Devon antiques shop years ago. The Dala horse is a traditional carved and painted wooden statue from Sweden that tends to be brightly coloured and patterned and I was thrilled to find an unusual clear glass one that suits my neutral palette.
I grew up in Devon by the sea and I love to have little reminders of that in the form of pebbles from my childhood beach around the house, stacked on the mantelpiece, my bedside table and out in the garden.
The kitchen and dining tables are family objects that have been passed down to us and there’s something lovely about eating around tables that generations of family have sat at. The wooden dining table has been in Matt’s family for generations, it belonged to his great grandparents and when he was little he stuck a drawing pin into the side and it’s still there, we’ll never remove it.”
Charlotte & Matt’s Tortoiseshell rescue cat.
“Recently, I joined forces with my friend and creative partner Ros Badger, a very talented designer and maker, as BlandBadger, producing creative retreats in the Italian countryside. The aim is for people to step away for a bit and reconnect with their creativity in a beautiful setting with a relaxed programme that they can dip in and out of. We offer things like still life photography and styling, trips to museums and flea markets, cyanotype print making, writing workshops and yoga classes, with incredible Italian food and drink in a 15th century country house, in an area rich in Renaissance art and architecture.”
“One of the best things about the house is the fantastic light - the kitchen and garden face SW - and I often shoot there, I love how the sun moves around the house and through the rooms. We have an olive tree in the back garden that throws strong, dappled shadows across the kitchen walls and table, something I use a lot in my work.”
“My favourite thing about South East London life is swimming in Brockwell Lido, an unheated 50 metre public pool in Brockwell Park, between Dulwich and Brixton. I try to swim there at least once a week year round and though it can be really cold in the winter the wood-fired sauna by the pool is a bonus.”
“My monthly World of Interiors magazine subscription is one of my favourite things to read and lately I’ve been reading books set in Italy, having recently been there for BlandBadger. I like reading stories about a country while I’m in it! The designer Axel Vervoordt’s latest book Portraits of Interiors is really inspiring, as is At the Pond, a joyful anthology of essays about swimming in the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond in north London. I’m listening to Nick Cave’s album Ghosteen a lot and usually have BBC 6 Music on in the background when I’m working.”