In Conversation with: Denis O’Regan

Photographer . @thedenisoregan

Love Olympia - Denis O’Regan

To say that Denis O’Regan is an acclaimed photographer is an understatement. Known for his work in music, he’s photographed the biggest names in the business, including Bowie and Duran Duran, AC/DC and Queen, and in 2021 became the first ever Artist in Residence at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. Denis, a local resident, tells us about a few of his favourite things. 

Where do you live and how long have you lived there?

DO’R: My gallery is on the corner of a recently built apartment block opposite Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith, named after the renowned local painter Eric Ravilious, who lived two streets away. I live in the same building as the gallery which opened in 2019, and until this summer, my son was at school a few doors away. All very local!

What’s special to you about this area? 

DO’R: I love this area. I moved here from across the river in Barnes, and still have to get used to the speed of access into central London on the tube – and even by car (I drive an electric car so pay no congestion charge). A friend likened it to Greenwich Village in New York, referring to the atmosphere, the park, its cosmopolitan feel and the abundance of restaurants. My friends who don’t live in the area are very jealous of the variety of cuisine we have, all within two blocks.

What are some of your favourite restaurants in the area? 

DO’R: Coffeeology on King Street. I regularly have coffee here, and the occasional meeting. If I eat locally at lunchtime with friends or colleagues we always go there afterwards for coffee. It has a long rear garden terrace, and sitting outside in the front in the winter sun is particularly warming.

Saigon Saigon, King Street, a Vietnamese restaurant with street tables. I’m also a regular here. They have a lunch special, and have catered more than one of my gallery events.

Zing, King Street. A lovely upmarket Indian restaurant where I often eat with friends.

Shilpa, King Street. Very low key and a very good Indian restaurant. Fantastic for a takeaway, and they give a discount for collection.

Carpenter’s Arms, just off St Peter’s Square. Cosy ‘gastro pub’ with a lovely terrace.

High Road House, Chiswick High Road. This – along with White City House – are my nearest Soho Houses, but High Road is especially ‘boutique’.

101 Thai, King Street. A friend managed the artist Damien Hirst, who always ordered a takeaway from here, having tried all the available Thai restaurants within range of Barnes. Damien did the research and now I often pop in for a very fresh one course £8 lunch special.

If you are going to celebrate, where do you go?

DO’R: I have to admit that I often head over the river to Barnes, where I grew up, e.g. Riva, Church Road (ex Sonny’s), or Olympic Studios, where I’m a member. The cinema is amazing.

I celebrated my last birthday (and the following day, a friend’s birthday) at Sam’s Riverside. It’s probably my favourite local restaurant. The ambience is ‘busy’ with an Art Deco vibe. I occasionally eat at the bar, which is fun, and the food is very good. Very consistent. I also buy food from Sam’s Larder.

Are there any other local businesses that you can’t live without?

DO’R: The restaurants! Coffeeology and Saffron Supermarket on King Street for fruit and vegetables. I can see its amazing display from my gallery window. And Adam & Potsie, my hairdresser on King Street

Do you have an insider local tip to tell us? 

DO’R: My gallery features limited edition fine art prints of my photographs of Queen, David Bowie etc, and also Bob Marley, who recorded Exodus at Island Studios in St Peter’s Square. Behind that is Mark Knopfler’s studio. My photography career began at the Hammersmith Odeon, where I saw David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and also The Beatles! The first photograph that I ever sold was of Queen, also taken at the Odeon, and I saw my first film there – Lawrence of Arabia. Hammersmith looms large in the story of my life! AC/DC’s first British performance was at the Red Cow pub on Hammersmith Road. Adele and Amy Whitehouse recorded their albums along the road at Metropolis Studios. Many people don’t realise the area’s long and rich connection with music that still continues.

What are your favourite local green spaces/ parks?

DO’R: Ravenscourt Park is opposite my gallery, with its secret garden and small lake, and I love to walk through the stunning St Peter’s Square, just off King Street. It’s elegant and peaceful, white period houses surrounding the central garden. It is tranquil and beautiful. One day… The W6 Garden Centre in the park is another peaceful place to visit. I have a lot of plants in my gallery!

I often duck under the A4 and across to the riverside at Hammersmith, with its view of Hammersmith Bridge and across the river to leafy Barnes. A  stroll along historic Chiswick Mall soothes the soul, and it’s possible to meander off road all the way to Chiswick House. When the tide is out it’s fun to walk along the ‘beach’ around Chiswick Eyot.

Hammersmith Bridge and the riverside pubs and rowing clubs creates a unique London atmosphere, featuring in both the most recent James Bond film, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Anything else you want to tell us about the area? 

DO’R: I’ve met a number of locals through the gallery, which is a highlight. A major downside is the new two-way cycle lane, which necessitates crossing four lanes of traffic, much of it silent. The road is therefore reduced to one lane each way causing unnecessary traffic, especially with Hammersmith Bridge closed.