This spring, we opened our Berlin store, and the first in Germany. To mark the occasion artist Anne Schwalbe, who was born and lives in the city, exhibited a selection of her work in the space. A photographer renowned for her meditative, evocative, visions of the natural world, Schwalbe’s shots are often taken in close-up, revealing an unexpected, ethereal beauty in the familiar. She takes us on a tour of her art and her Berlin.
On what she loves about Berlin:
There are lots of parks and trees and, for a city, it’s not too fast. I like this slowness.
On Berlin’s artistic scene:
In the ’90s, compared to other cities, it was easier to afford a good life here – the rents weren’t as high as they are now and so people had more time to work on their own stuff. It’s not really like that any more, but that energy is there.
On nature as a source of inspiration:
I just feel very comfortable when I’m in close to nature. I live in the city but I need to escape; that urge gets stronger and stronger as I get older.
On her first camera:
I was a child; it was an old camera from my grandfather. I started quite early but I only began studying photography when I was around 30. After school I studied for a Master’s in German Literature and Cultural Studies. While doing this I worked part time in a florist. I need to work with my hands; I get crazy when I just sit at the computer so this job was very important.
On how she would describe her work:
It’s always very difficult to talk about my about my photographs because I work very intuitively. I like to take my time, and this transfers into my work. A lot people tell me they feel calmer when they look at my photographs.
On what resonates with her about Sunspel:
I love that there’s a focus on quality. I’m happy when I find something that I like and want to wear for years. I also think it’s really great that they still produce clothes in the UK.
Anne’s Berlin address book:
Alter Roter Löwe Rein, Neukölln, Richardstraße 31-32: A great bar that’s often surprisingly empty is. Don’t miss the swing dance afternoons, some Sundays.
Schokoladen, Ackerstraße 169: A former squat that hosts concerts, lectures and parties.
Berlin Wall Memorial, Bernauer Straße 119: It’s very impressive. Nearby is Park am Nordbahnhof a former train area I like to go there when I need some nature in the middle of the city.
25 Books, Brunnenstraße 152: A great collection of photo books and the owner is very enthusiastic about photography.
Gallery Building, Am Kupfergraben 10: They built many new houses in Berlin since 1989, one I really like and recommend for a visit is this David Chipperfield-designed building next Museumsinsel. Inside is the Contemporary Fine Arts gallery, among others.
Bethanien, Kottbusser Straße 10: I’m looking forward to going to the open-air cinema in the courtyard of this contemporary arts venue this summer.
Sunspel BerlinAlte Schönhauser Straße 41, Berlin, 10119