I came down [to Brighton] for the course [BA Editorial Photography], and I remember coming on the train that day just by myself to come for the interview and thinking that it was completely horrible. I walked down North Road and it was all just really skuzzy and really kind of tumbled down. And there was lots of places that they’ve now made really swanky and put in new bars and restaurants and things that were just completely derelict buildings. And it looked horrible, it was like the worst way I could’ve walked completely, and then, getting to Grand Parade, was a little bit different, but I still just thought it was generally pretty grimy.
Alive and expensive
[But then …] the whole atmosphere of the place changed really quickly from 1998 to 2001 when I left. It went from everything being a little bit down and out to suddenly everybody was moving down from North London and all the rent prices went from about forty-five pounds a week up to about seventy-five pounds a week in that space of time ’cause everybody was buying new properties by the sea. There was the whole Fat Boy Slim thing making it really fashionable and it just suddenly went Boooooom! And there was all these new bars and restaurants and things happening and the whole place just suddenly came alive … it was amazing, it was really good but at the same time it was really expensive.
Such diversity in a small area
[I left and then came back because] it feels comfortable. It was the first place that was ever really my home, as in, when I left my parents house Brighton was the first place that I ever really got to know on my own and so it does feel very comfortable and you can get anything that you want pretty much, ’cause there’s such diversity in such a small area that anything you’re interested in, you can find eight other people down the pub that night who are interested in the same thing so, yeh it’s a really good place.
Back to its roots
When I left in 2001 it seemed like it was going down a bad route in a way. It was getting very commercialised … it just didn’t seem like it did when I first moved here. Whereas now when I’ve come back, although I’m living in Hove now, it just seems like things are a lot more exciting again, there’s lots of new galleries opening up, lots of new studios, lots of people doing things, collectives springing up all over the place so yeh it seems like it’s getting back to its roots somehow so it’s really good.
My best and worst
[The best thing about Brighton for me is] Mmmm, the sea, [laughs] that’s it pretty much. [And the worst is] Probably when the bin-men go on strike [laughs] that’s always pretty bad.
Jo Dimbleby interviewed by Donna Hetherington 13th April 2006