Written by James Yabut, City Living Local Life
Landy is a 43-year old who sports headscarves from Israel, and Palestine, and the Golan Heights; she proudly shows off her giant panda tattoo, and even carries a mega-loud Egyptian horn to warn the traffic that she’s coming through.
She is decorated with beautiful brass detailing from Morocco, fishing floats from Lebanon, and a sound system that was picked up somewhere in the Tunisian desert. Her wooden bed, hand-painted in Jordan, is hidden behind curtains from Libya.
Landy is a 1971 Series IIA Land Rover with lots and lots of stories to tell; she is also proof positive that people can be a lot nicer than you might think.
Last year she carried Lucy Engleheart and Anne-Laure Carruth for five and a half months on a journey around the Mediterranean through North Africa and the Middle East. The pair had set out from the UK in March hoping to find good news stories from the region to counterbalance the negative coverage of the area that is usually seen in the UK’s media.
After 18 months of saving and planning, they quit their jobs and almost instantly realised the not-inconsequential flaw in their plan: how exactly were they going to find these happy tales? As Lucy puts it: “You can’t just knock on people’s doors and say ‘have you got a good news story?’” It was at this point that Landy became more than just a means of transport.
To describe her as “noisy” would be an understatement. As the women drove, her engine and sheet metal shell would rattle constantly at close to 100 decibels; having suffered with the noise through France and Spain, the pair were wondering whether they had made a massive mistake. A fortuitous meeting with a group of Marrakech artisans changed everything. The men lined the interior with cork to dampen the vibrations and added the fancy brass work. And they did it all for nothing. The new plan became clear: as Lucy and Anne-Laure travelled through each country, they would ask some of the local people to add their own unique touch to the vehicle.
Their additions transformed Landy into a delightful memory box that educates and entertains both adults and children alike. “We’d love to have them again. They would be great for the schools,” said Sela Tekle who lives on Golborne Road. Miranda Pierre, who lives in Trellick Tower, agreed “People think these are scary places, but they’re not as scary as the news makes you believe. They might not be the most pleasant, but every place has good and bad sides.”
The resulting book and website recount the happy stories and generosity of the people they met, and the goodwill Lucy and Anne-Laure encountered on their travels even seemed to follow them to the InTRANSIT Festival. As they camped out overnight in the tent that houses their exhibition, local cafes and businesses on Golborne Road made sure they were topped up with food and drink.
Both women agree that current events only serve to make the exhibition more significant today. As Lucy says: “People in England will only see the negative side in the newspapers and we wanted to talk about the positive stories […] It’s even more important to tell our story now.”