Last year, I sat eating ramen alone (the only way to ever eat ramen) opposite a piece of graffiti painted on a boarded-up shop opposite the restaurant. I snapped a quick picture, the abstract faces and the quote getting stuck in my head without me realising at the time.
The little ramen restaurant is no more but over the next few months I spotted more of the faces in different levels of detail and colour around London and then, on the Lower East Side in New York on a hot afternoon while I forced myself to keep walking through the streets to capture every last bit of the city.
Instagram's geo-tagging helped me track down the artist as Anna Laurini, born in Milan she has studied art in her home city, in London and in NYC. Anna even re-grammed a few of my pictures of her works and I kept an eye out for more across London, the faces standing out despite East London not lacking in colourful street art.
Anna Laurini's work is currently being exhibited at Lights of Soho - the Brewer Street gallery is small and friendly and I always pop in when I'm close by (they do great coffee). The exhibition features larger works which are bright, beautiful and don't lose any of their character in the transition from shutters and hoardings to a traditional canvas. Anna has also produced a number of original works in smaller sizes with prices starting at £50 - art is often seen as something out of reach but for the price of a new pair of shoes you can take home an original piece and support an artist whose work you've enjoyed for free.
After a lot of time flicking through the folders, I was drawn to a brightly coloured face painted onto a menu from nearby Damson and Co. Other artworks have used pages of the New Yorker as their canvas, covering the words of our times with red lips and broad brushstrokes. Art is so personal but this piece was the one I needed - partly because I love reading restaurant menus and because maybe it will be nice in twenty, thirty, fifty years time to look back on what we were eating during these crazy times. If I survive any impending apocalypse I'll be sure to take this with me of a reminder of life, art, city streets and oven-roasted cod with bok choy, coriander and lime.
Lights of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F 0RX
Exhibition runs until 11th March 2017