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    My City Life: Stella Ioannou

    The director of creative projects agency LACUNA and artistic director of Sculpture in the City on this year’s must-see artwork, starting her day with Tai Chi and decaf coffee, and hidden gems in the City

    Where in London do you live and/or work?

    I’m a north Londoner through and through and now live in Crouch End after a few years in Islington and the Barbican. Work for the past 11 years has centred around Sculpture in the City and the City of London.


    What is your earliest memory of London?

    There’s all the trips to the iconic London sites as a kid, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and London Zoo, but what I hold most dear to my heart were visits to the Coliseum for ballet and opera performances. My mother’s best friend worked there so I grew up going there from an early age and have magical memories.


    Stella remembers visiting the Tower of London as a child


    \What makes London special to you?

    The diversity, the incredible wealth and breadth in culture and the scrumptious food scene. It can be so big but also so local at the same time and is spectacular in the sunshine. And then there’s our wonderful parks and green spaces, which became lifesavers during the pandemic. I love nothing more than just walking and discovering new things in the incredible city I am lucky to call home.


    How would you describe London in three words?

    Vibrant, home, unique.


    What are some of your favourite places in the City of London?

    I love the new Bloomberg Space at the London Mithraeum, which is currently showing a wonderful installation by Fernando Casasempere, who we worked with in 2017. Then, of course, there’s the Roman Amphitheatre at the Guildhall as well as the Guildhall Art Gallery, which I’m always happy to pop into for a moment of calm. I used to live at the Barbican so clearly that features high up the list of favourite places and the Museum of London is always a treat and reminds me of the history we are surrounded by in the City. The Everyman Cinema in Broadgate is a very welcome addition to life in the City and the rooftop at 120 Fenchurch Street is another gem, as it’s free to go up and affords some great views of Tower Bridge and the river. The new Pan Pacific hotel is great for relaxed afternoon meetings sipping hibiscus tea and, if it’s a coffee shop I’m looking for, then the new WatchHouse and Blend are great additions to the meeting venue list. Finally, lunch at The Royal Exchange is always a treat.


    Sculpture in the City returns this month for the 11th edition. What are some of your standout must-see recommendations?

    Where do I start from? With another 20-strong exhibition, I am spoilt for choice and frankly, like a parent, I can’t have favourites. Jocelyn McGregor’s Earthing in Aldgate Square is a wonderful addition to the public square celebrating the symbiosis of humans and nature, while Ugo Rondinone’s summer moon is a white tree standing at 6m tall, and Habitat by Pedro Pires in Mitre Square also speaks to the relationship between humans and nature. Sarah Lucas’s Sandwich will celebrate this everyday food item liberally consumed in the City, with Cosmos by Eva Rothschild serenely holding its space on Undershaft for another year. There will be two installations in the Cheesegrater, with a new piece by Claudia Wieser on the escalators celebrating the history of architecture and Emma Smith’s artwork, We, which asks the question, ‘Are we all one, or are we alone?’ Victor Seaward’s Nest series will be fun additions in trees at 99 Bishopsgate and Aldgate Square, with Shezad Dawood’s Invasion appearing as an intruder in the magnificent surrounds of Leadenhall Market. Jesse Pollock’s The Granary, inspired by different architectural styles, will stand tall in Cunard Place and Bosco Sodi’s untitled pair of artworks will be sited on the very wide pavement of Bevis Marks. This year, the corner site of 99 Bishopsgate will be inhabited by Emma Louise Moore’s Miss, a marble piece inspired by the reflections of towers in Manhattan, NYC and being shown in an urban environment for the first time.


    How do you want people to feel when they interact with these sculptures?

    From a personal and curatorial perspective, my aim is that the works incite a reaction, whether that be positive or negative. There really is no right or wrong way to feel about the works. I’m always interested in chatting with people and hearing what they see as we are all so different in how we read things based on our experiences. If there’s one wish I have it’s that our audiences are open to the experience. I’m also aware that for City workers who get to experience the pieces over a year, their own reaction to the pieces is likely to change over time. The fact that the artworks are out in public spaces freely accessible 24/7 with no threshold is important in presenting contemporary art in a non-elitist way.

    We are all so different in how we read art based on our experiences


    What is your usual morning routine?

    An invigorating shower followed by my morning smoothie and coffee, which is decaf these days, whilst checking the morning news headlines. Then it’s super important for me to practise either my QiGong or Tai Chi, which ground and centre me before I start my day properly, with the first item of the day being a list of my priorities.


    How do you maintain a good work-life balance?

    Making the time to socialise with friends and family, which could be going to the theatre, cinema or out for a meal – all are a treat following the past two years. I love cooking, so finding new recipes to try out at home is always a good way to decompress when I return after a full day followed by a relaxing bath. I also love walking and we’re very lucky to be surrounded by some amazing green spaces at home so walking on Ally Pally with my partner and then continuing up to Highgate Woods is another great way to rebalance.


    What’s the best TV show/book/podcast you have come across in the past six months?

    I watched The Andy Warhol Diaries a few months ago when I was stuck at home with Covid-19 and loved it. It was a great insight into his real life and went a long way in explaining the myth.


    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

    An old colleague once told me that when you don’t know how to do something, you need to bring in the experts. It’s such a simple piece of advice but also so true. We can’t do everything well, as much as we want to.


    Discover more about this year’s Sculpture in the City, which launches on 21 June, at