North London Food & Culture

Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Natalie D’Arbeloff, Artist

Natalie D’Arbeloff is a painter, book-artist, cartoonist and writer, born in Paris of French and Russian parents, and raised in South America, USA and Europe. She has lived in Kentish Town since the mid 1990s. Major solo exhibitions include the Victoria & Albert Museum’s National Art Library 1990. Her work is in public and private collections internationally. Currently she is painting, working on an autobiographical graphic novel and procrastinating on various other projects.

When were you happiest?
Dancing, singing, being in love, anytime, in Kentish Town and anywhere.


Where would you like to live?
Still in NW5 but with a garden and a bigger studio, possibly in the garden.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
a) Silence. b) Coffee brewing and bread baking.

What is your greatest life achievement?
Still being alive and well and creating.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Not to answer questionnaires.

What is your earliest K-Town memory?
A long time ago, when the Junction Tavern was a run-down Irish pub, I was taken there by a friend for a jolly Christmas sing-song. I didn’t realise I was in Kentish Town.

What makes you unhappy?
You’ll have to read my autobiography which is ongoing, online and only halfway there. I will gradually fill in the missing bits, hopefully before time and reality catch up with me. Start here.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
Money (for a bigger studio and a garden).

What is your most unappealing habit?
Wasting time.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Spending hours drinking coffee in Café de la Paix, the Literary Café, Phoenicia or Tolli instead of being at home finishing work I must finish.

Where do you hang out?
The Junction Tavern, Café de la Paix, the Literary Café, Phoenicia, Tolli.

Who or what do you hate and why?
Loud music in pubs, cafes, department stores, anywhere. Traffic. Crowds. Being held in interminable phone queues…Oh never mind. My list is too long and typical of all non-conformist grumpies.

What’s been your best experience in NW5?
The street party every September in my street. Worst? Having my wallet stolen in Kentish Town High Street.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My age.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
‘It’s not you it’s me.’

Tell us a secret.
My age.

Inside-Outside Tavira 2010

What has your career taught you?
Whatever it is I haven’t learned it yet.

What is your favourite dish and why?
As ordinary comfort food: egg and very good chips but more exotically, couscous with a big bowl of broth, stewed meat and vegetables as prepared in a Moroccan restaurant in Paris.

What was your worst gig and why?
Forgetting the words when singing Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves) which I know very well. I’ve forgotten where or when or why this happened.

Describe yourself as an animal.
A singing mouse or a painting monkey. Or a meerkat because it’s adorable and speaks with a Russian accent.

Words & Pictures: Natalie D’Arbeloff

Ich Bin Kentishtowner is open to anyone who wants to answer the questions. Get in touch and we’ll send you them:

Ich Bin Kentishtowner comes in association with longstanding local the Lord Palmerston, which can be found at 33 Dartmouth Park Hill. Manager Stephen is offering readers a free starter or dessert to run alongside either the all-day menu or lunch deal (one main & glass of wine/beer for £10). Bargainous, eh? Just mention The Kentishtowner when booking or ordering.

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About Kentishtowner

The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.