Interview: Laura Noonan of Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ost

On August 12th, at the Beaumont Studios, Irish-born Laura Noonan and Tara Paget open Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ostan interdisciplinary celebration of Vancouver's East Side. The night promises to offer close and real examinations of the community and culture that Noonan and Paget have come to call home during their time here, and opens its doors, characteristically, to everyone from everywhere. The show will also feature work photography, poetry, and live music from the likes of Stevie Moonboots, Jesse Uchida, Dara McDermott & more.

SAD Mag: You're from Ireland, correct? What brought you to Canada and how long have you been practicing art? 

Laura Noonan: That is correct; Tara and I arrived in Vancouver in June 2012 and February 2014 respectively. We are from opposite ends of the country, Tara hails from the capital, Dublin; I grew up on the coast in Cork, the largest county in Ireland and the real capital if you will—there is a playful rivalry between Cork and Dublin. We didn't know each other in Ireland; we met in Vancouver through a mutual friend, also Irish. The Irish community in Vancouver is deeply connected.

We came to Canada for a number of reasons: our home country was in the midst of a crippling recession which left minimal opportunity for young people; the vast landscapes of Canada is what attracted us both; the opportunity to explore a country which was so untouched but developed at the same time was very appealing. The wildlife, politics and most importantly the way of life in Canada propelled us to push our lives forward and make the move something neither of us regrets to this day.

We have been collaborating on this project for over a year, what began as a vlog is now a full-fledged art show that incorporates a variety of media that merge to illustrate one common theme, the present. Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost represents our artistic debut. This is also the first time Tara and I have worked together on a project. In the lead up to the show’s inception, it became clear that our artistic thoughts and intentions were echoed in one another and we felt we had something meaningful to say. The spark that ensued between us was powerful enough to prompt us to put our curiosity to one side and take the leap and create.

Photo c/o Laura Noonan of  Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ost

Photo c/o Laura Noonan of Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ost

SM: What are your media of choice in terms of art practice?

LN: Photography is the most dominant form in use. We are extremely passionate about highlighting the wonder in the ordinary by capturing and championing individual moments. We believe that our present is extraordinary and that the continued progression of materialistic and capitalist ideologies has diluted our appreciation of our present. We felt that photography would be the art form that would encompass our theme the most and we recognized photography as the art form that would takes us away from our present the least.

Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost strives to support a contentment in self and place by accenting moments that offer a candid look at contemporary society. We have been very raw in our presentation, we want to break down the barriers between appearance and reality, a concept we feel has come to govern 21st century society. Through our works we try to offer a very real, unfiltered view of what life is like in 2016, in 2016 East Vancouver most specifically.

We want to create a full experience for our audience and indoctrinate our message as much as we can and so we have incorporated a number of mediums, mainly visual pieces as we feel that accompanies our message best. We will be presenting photography and prose pieces with a couple of little surprises enveloped by nostalgia inducing melodies and music.

SM: What are your intentions with Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost?

LN: We really want to bring people’s attention to the rewards associated with appreciating the moments and things that exist in our present, that make up our life—not our past, not our future, but what is happening here and now and the value in that.

Producing this show has been such a fantastic experience for us,  we ourselves are continuing to learn and discover what it really means to be present in 21st century society.

We want to have a positive impact on our audience, we hope that this show might make people step away from their reality and see that this idea that we share might be something that they could share and in turn benefit their lives in a positive way.

We have been hugely inspired by the community in East Van, we want to spread the community love and give back to the community that inspired and inspires us to create.

I will be moving to Australia at the end of the summer, Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost is my last ode to Vancouver.

SM: Can you tell me about where the project came from, or why it came about?

LN: It began as video blog. The idea emerged on a weekday evening in none other than East Vancouver. I work on Hastings and Renfrew and Tara lives on Hastings and Commercial. Tara’s apartment was on my route home, I would work late nights and we would meet by a lamppost on the corner of Hastings and Nanaimo a couple of nights a week for a quick smoke. These meetings were never planned or scheduled, they were always spontaneous and that’s what made them so special—the rat race didn’t matter for those 15 minutes. We were both taking the time out to be present and be with a friend to recap the day, to take a minute to breathe, a minute to ourselves. It was here that all our ideas began to form and it was from here that we ventured into places like East End Billiards, Café de Soleil, Mike McGee at the WiseHall and we started taking pictures. We became so inspired by East Vancouver’s culture and Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost was born.

We were both yearning for a creative outlet at the time and the fact that we shared the same passion for the same ideas and the same end goal left us with no other choice but to do this.

Photo c/o Laura Noonan of  Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ost

Photo c/o Laura Noonan of Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ost

SM: What were your primary influences and interests in depicting the east side? 

LN: We are massively influenced by the life and people that inhabit the east side. The east side was the first place we observed how accepted eclectic people and families were and we were completely inspired by that. It inspired us to create, to be ourselves and detach ourselves from our inhibitions. The mosaic backdrop of east Vancouver gave us the courage to jump and do this.

We hope that our audience will be as inspired by the many components of the east side that inspires us so greatly, whether good, bad or indifferent we hope that our presentation of the east side impacts our audience in the way the east side impacted and continues to impact us.

The purpose of this is show is to show what’s going on in society in this present moment and hope that it resonates with people in some shape or form. This exhibition of words and imagery celebrates diversity, champions contentment in self and place, and recognizes the value of each individual person and thing.

SM: Why did you choose to present this project as an event—an evening—featuring such varying methods of performance and art? 

LN: We wanted to take it off the page and off the screen. We didn’t want it to be about signing an online petition or liking and sharing, we wanted to gather a community people in one space, get up, get out, engage, be part of something, be part of life.

We are keeping things old school in our decision to show in a gallery but we are doing it with a twist. We want to disassociate the project with the elitist ideals that generally accompany gallery settings. We want you to come in your Converse, not your Jimmy Choos, we want our audience to take a moment with no distractions and come out and celebrate life through art. Art is about everyone, art is for everyone.

For us, art is life and life is present.

We really wanted to find a way to engage the local community and we thought what better way to do that than by hosting a party that feasts on life! We are Irish after all.

SM: How do you feel your status as transplanters impacts the way you view the east side?

LN: That fact that we are immigrants massively impacts the way we see all of Vancouver, we immediately spot the differences between our home country and what we have come to call home here. We bring new eyes to the table, a new way of seeing things, a new way of looking at things. The associations that have been attached to the east side that many Vancouverites grow up with are not ones that affect us. We are unmoved by pre-established dispositions. What some locals may walk past without a second thought or glance (or lack thereof at all) everyday, we notice and we know that there is so much more out there to ‘notice’ and see and the only way that we can do that is if we are truly connected to our present. We feel that Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost is a testament to that.

We do try not to be ‘outsiders’. We try to immerse ourselves in our surroundings as much as possible, we are trying to fit in, we want to be a part of this life, we came to Canada for this life.

SM: Can you elaborate on the idea of "banality and originality" that you mention in your description of the project? 

LN: Banality representing the mundane facets of life, originality being the unique, uncommercialized nature of East Vancouver’s undertaking of these facets.

Tara and I are inspired by ‘the moment’, some moments live in your memory forever, they are unforgettable, milestones, others are gone without a second thought, your trip to the grocery store or walk to work. Our goal with this show is to deconstruct the forgettable moments to show a. the wonder in the ordinary and b. that they should not be forgettable.

Appearance versus reality and the idea of banality & originality is the précis of what we are trying to do with Meet me at the Lamp(p)ost. Out of all the neighbourhoods in Vancouver we feel that East Vancouver is the place that really does this best. The people in East Vancouver are living very normal lives, getting up and conducting their day like every other person in the world but they are doing it on their own terms, on terms that induces engagement and an aspiration to create. East Vancouver injects sparkle into the everyday; you never know who you’re going to run into or what you are going to stand witness to. What you see in East Vancouver is what you get, there’s no false-appearance; it’s cold, hard reality and it’s amazing.

Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, click here