Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? Where have you been spending lock down?
Hello! My name is Dr. Ope Lori and I’m the Founder and Director of PILAA (Pre-Image Learning And Action) and we are an arts and diversity consultancy and image content production company based in London. In my previous life, I was a University Lecturer in the Fine Arts, however I realised in my latter days of teaching, that there were other people and organisations that were hungry for knowledge and understanding around key issues faced by many in the workplace. PILAA was born out of the way that art has the ability to make a difference, but outside the four walls of the white cubed gallery space. I should add, that I’m also a practising artist, specialising in moving image and photography.

How’s lock down been for you?
During lockdown, I’ve been quite fortunate that I was able to spend it back in Essex in my family home. At first it was a little weird coming back to your roots and to your family base, 14 years later, but I eventually settled in and I’ve found myself spending most of my days in my Father’s library. It’s amazing to be reading and finding books in my Father’s collection, some of which he read before I was born. In fact, it’s this experience of bonding with my Father through the books we’ve both read, which is at the heart of a new artist commission I am working on, for Autograph at Rivington Place. I’ve been chosen alongside nine amazing artists to respond to the wider context of the Covid-19 crisis in Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other and working on the piece is exciting but at the same time quite emotional, as one connects with the thinking of my Father through the annotated marks he’s made in the books.

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself (or the world) over the last few months?
I’ve learnt that it’s a special skill to bring people together, especially when everyone is facing varying troubles and challenges. However, like many people, I’ve taken to joining and hosting online video sessions and in them, you can see sometimes the real and wonderful parts of humanity. It seems that everyone wants to feel recognised, supported, and part of something other than themselves and I’ve been fortunate to have seen people who have come together and bonded regardless of any of our characteristics.

What have you missed most about the House? What do you look forward to getting back to?
I’ll tell you something, never have the words of Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi, resonated with me, as they have when thinking about what I’ve missed about the House. “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got. Til it’s gone”, is the absolute truth. Right from the moment you knock the door, everyone is so nice and accommodating and I really feel at home. I’ve missed that effortless hospitality.

If you could have a drink with one person (real or imaginary) at our bar, who would it be?
Firstly, the drink would have to be a Porn Star Martini. I love that drink and anything to do with Passion Fruit. My guest would definitely be Eckhart Tolle, the Spiritual Teacher and author of many important books that I’ve read, such as his iconic ‘The Power of Now’. I love watching his recorded talks and I find him really intriguing in the way that he comes across with his words and his mannerisms. It’s effortless and authentic and you can see it. I’m not sure what his choice of drink would be, but let me meditate on that and get back to you.

Say hello to me to talk… e.g. marketing, the offside rule, the history of the brioche bun
Say hello to me to talk about anything you want too, within reason of course. I’m a curious mind and love connecting with people and finding out just about themselves. If all fails, you could always say “well done Liverpool, your team deserved to win the Premiership after 30 long years!”


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