Helga Sierra
Helga Sierra

Journal: Stories on Creativity & Adventure

Learn about the artist's process, photo stories, traveling & more. 

Travel: I love London

It's a magical place. 

This city has a certain Je ne sais quoi. It is such a vibrant city.  

Right before the sun set. 

Right before the sun set. 

(I was also in London about a year ago....You can see those pictures here.) 

I'm currently in Lisbon, working on my freelance design and getting ready to launch my online art shop+ I have an art show next week.  However, before arriving in Lisbon, my flight was through London, so naturally, I decided to spend some days there to work, connect with other creatives and firms and obviously explore.  



London, I arrived late at night, (after 2 days in NYC),  but to "fight" jet lag I decided to go on a walk.  I ended up going through a tunnel that is full of graffiti as I was on my way to the London Eye, just a 20-minute walk from my hostel (which I reccommend-Safestay at Elephant & Castle).  The London Eye it is the slowest moving thing on this planet, but it makes for wonderful pictures.  On this trip, I got to discover new parts of London through the eyes of locals, and simply by wondering the streets with a sort of plan.

I got to go to a proper Pub, eat Indian food, explore a new area of the city (for me), that was really artsy and I was loving the vibe (Shoreditch).  Turns out I had arrived in the middle of London Design Festival, so amazing creatives from around Europe were showcasing their brands, projects, and the museums/galleries had curated amazing things.  Keep reading and I'll tell you more about 3 art museums that I greatly enjoyed. 

One of the days I simply walked around the city and ended up in Somerset House (above) where they had a massive display of forward-thinking brands. That same day I ended up at the National Portrait Gallery (which I had not been to before), they had a late night opening, a DJ and I made some new friends simply by asking them to take my picture.



The following days I kept working, but I did get to go to a Brittish theater and see a short play at the Serpentine Gallery in the middle of Hyde Park.  I was running late all over the city and wanted to see everything, but this was cool because I connected with a local installation artist who happens to be a friend's cousin and showed me what the artist in London do.  Her friend Ross was in the play. As I conversed with Lucia and her friends I can conclude that: working in creative fields is not easy.  IT IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.  

Chatting with different designers, actors, etc. was really cool in terms of seeing what that life looks like in a city like London; learning their aspirations, challenges, etc. We had things in common, we had things that were very different; but even in small conversations, I think creative people have an eagerness to learn.


On Art Museums: Tate Modern + National Portrait Gallery + National Gallery 


National Portrait Gallery


I made it here because the National Portrait Gallery is open late on Thursdays. I really loved the Anna Wintour Portrait (unfortunately I didn't take a picture so here's some others). It is pictures of people, maybe a real-life Instagram, here you can see the original selfies; except really important people who have made some impact in society/culture.  They are open late on Thursdays and I showed up and heard Bitter Sweet Symphony + Coldplay being played by the DJ. It was a little adventure that turned into meeting 2 new friends who invited me to the pub where I asked all sorts of questions about Brittish culture.  I did learn that chips (in the US) are crisps and fries are chips. 


We chatted about our differences in culture, leading to a late night out and them purchasing my oyster card so I could safely get back home.   I will let you know that this encounter was against any "stereotypical" Brittish encounter.  

Pares and Emily were very kind hosts. 


Tate Modern

My friend Lucia was kind enough to let me borrow her membership card to the Tate Modern. The inside of the building feels like a wonderful maze to get lost in. On Saturday, I spent a large portion of one of my days slowly strolling all of the rooms and going to the new exhibits. I didn't talk to anyone for those hours, I had no intention of moving quickly. I simply took in all the art. I have been there before and I naturally gravitate towards modern art and impressionism (which I took care of visiting the next day) It was great.  I then scurried off to Shoreditch....which you can read about later.

National Gallery

They just opened an exhibit on Degas and I saw his ballerinas from up close and I nearly cried.  Last year the Degas paintings weren't being shown to the public.  Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures and I had 1 hour to view that room and all the other ones.  I did get to see Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Manet, Monet, (I love impressionism), but seeing Degas's strokes resonated with me greatly.  I had 1 hour because I needed to go back to my hostel, get my bags and head to the airport.  As always in Helga fashion, I was running late and my Google maps sent me to the wrong bus stop. 

Discover through travel, stressful moments and all, is one of the most exhilarating things in life. 

For more info National Gallery Website.


New discoveries

Shoreditch is my new discovery.  I'll have to go back and explore this part of town.  As I mentioned the London Design Festival was happening (ignorance: I did not know how amazing this would be and did not schedule enough time)....Maybe next year I'll actually plan more days in London and who knows, I hope to show my work in this city and collaborate with the amazing creatives that live there. 

Allow me to put it in layman terms: it was pretty hipster. Markets, funky clothes, bagel shops, Indian food, and I was wearing striped pants...I fit right in.  I didn't spend much time there, but I did take some street photos.  I met up with Lucia again and she showed me where we could eat some proper Indian Food.  We swapped stories about growing up, our current work, and she ordered the Buttermilk (properly pronounced Butta Milk) chicken and said our goodbyes.   She has a show opening this week and works hard to create art (I know the feeling).  ¡Exitos Lucia!




Last Comment: I'll see you soon London

Hopefully sooner than later


4 days was not enough.  I feel confident that I will return to this city. After all, ever since I was a teenager I've always had a fascination of the UK and thankfully the weather was sunny and perfect all week long.  

Finally: Thanks to Pares, Emily for showing me proper pub etiquette. Gracias Lucia for taking me to see plays, sharing about the cool art spots, letting me borrow your Tate Card and introducing me to your wonderful friends. 

The kind Lucia, who was a great guide to the city's art spots. 

The kind Lucia, who was a great guide to the city's art spots. 



(All pictures were taken on Fujifilm XT-20)


Top 2 London Pictures of the trip. St. Paul's Cathedral. 

Top 2 London Pictures of the trip. St. Paul's Cathedral. 

I haven't blogged as much as I wanted and lately I've struggle balancing different work things, so even though I wanted to share blogs more often it's hard for me to keep up.  I may be cutting back, but we'll see.  For now I've got 2 new photoshoots queued up, but I'm launching my online shop first.  

Ohh yeah and I'm in Lisbon preparing for my first art show in EUROPE...so I'll have more pictures on that and the launch of my online art show..  For now STAY TUNED and follow @helga.sierra on instagram.