The curse of living in a small town or city is that it often gets overlooked for the better known capitals. Making her home in the western Ruhr region of Germany, blogger and snapper Paloma Parrot knows this all too well, so we asked her to take us on a tour of her hometown and show us why there's more to the country than just Berlin.
Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the neighbourhood that you live in. I live in an inner-city neighbourhood in the Ruhr area called Dortmund-Hafen, Hafen means Port. As you can imagine it is quite an industrial area, but I like living near the water. It´s also the part of the city known for its multiculturalism.
What kind of house/apartment do you live in? Is it typical of the architecture in that area? The house we live in was built in the '80s.The architecture in the Ruhr area is very multifaceted.You can find high-rise estates, private residential buildings and also art noveau buildings.
What kind of stereotype has the Ruhr area earned, and how is it different to what people expect? When thinking about the Ruhr area, what comes to mind is coal mining, traditional heavy industry and simple but friendly folks.You can still find many friendly people, but very few of them still work in the heavy-industry. After phases of structural crisis we pretty much moved on to service industries and high technology.
How is your city changing? The Ruhr area is restructuring since the '60s, after the coal crisis hit the area. It forced people to rethink and establish new fields of public life. The focus is now on education and service industries. Neglected fields like art and culture are becoming more important too.
What album do you think would be the best soundtrack for walking around? Over here the summer is almost over, the perfect time to listen to the Riot on an Empty Street album from Kings of Convenience. It´s one of my favourite albums, by the way.
If you had a day to take an Australian around your town on a Sunday afternoon, what would you do? This might sound boring, but I would suggest a visit to museums, galleries and, most importantly, to some of the great industrial monuments. We could travel down a part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage by bike.
What is the local creative community like? Are there predominant local crafts? I feel like there are many graphic designers and photographers based here, because of the University of Applied Science that offers these study paths.
How does your city change with the seasons? How has this influenced your work? It's the end of summer now, summer is always a happy and loud season. The kids don't have school and the weather is good. I like the magical light of the summer. It's always good to have a lot of light. When the summer is over it gets windy and dark outside. The real winter with snow isn't too long either, but I love taking photos in winter. There´s not much light but everything looks so clean and minimalistic because of the white snow.
Tell us about the spaces and places you have photographed for us. I'm fascinated with abandoned buildings, and there are many of them in my city. I love the building with the tree growing out of the window, I always wonder what kind of magic is going on inside it. Another favourite of mine is the water tower by the old rail station where many photoshoots take place.The dog groomer is an outdated but almost vintage place to get your dog's hair done.The lady in there is strange, so I'm just glad that my dog doesn´t need to get his hair cut. My favourite place in my city is the Port, even if there is industry it's still more quiet than anywhere else. You can go swimming in the water channel, go fishing or just sit in a nice beach bar.
Where is the best place to have a picnic? Definitely the water channel at the Port, but not on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It's too crowded there on the weekends. Another good place is the Westfalenpark – it's very clean and they have beautiful flowers and flamingos.
Where is the best place to see a gig? Oh, that´s a hard question for me. I haven't been going out for a while. But I think the FZW (Ritterstraße 20 44137 Dortmund) is a good place to go if you enjoy concerts.
Where is the best place to get a drink? A great place to have a drink is Marlene Bar (Humboldstr.1-3 44137 Dortmund). The atmosphere is good, the people are interesting and the interior is awesome.
Where is the best place to buy a vintage dress? The best place to buy a vintage dress is probably the flea market at the university on Saturdays, or sometimes on Sundays. If the weather is good, you'll need a few hours to go through all the interesting stuff.