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rob jameson

Leeds-based designer Rob Jameson is one busy guy, juggling wide-ranging pursuits of collage, photomontage, graphic design and illustration. When I caught up with him, we discussed the significance of process, ambition and the embracing of mistakes. Here’s what he had to say:

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If you could choose one piece of work from your entire collection that represents you, what would it be and why?

Tough start! It would be something collage based. At this particular moment, I’d probably be more drawn to my landscapes. A lot of my work explores the relationship between mankind, nature and the spaces around you, and how people don’t fully understand what’s going on and what affect their actions might have. I use a lot of geometric shapes which comes back to my design and graphic side of things; sort of bold shapes and patterns, but using a lot more found material from old books etc. So, it’s a kind of juxtaposition between these geometric shapes and natural forms put together; human relationships with nature and how often people fuck it all up.

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What inspires you to create?

I got into collage whilst at uni, and began doing a lot of photography of the spaces around me - sort of the more abandoned and unpleasant spaces in the city. I’ve always been fascinated with these - it comes back again to how they were used and peoples relationship to them. So, through doing that I started photographing textures like the brickwork or stuff on the floor etc, which basically led to me using these photographs - layering them on top of other things, like illustrations. This fed into using found materials which I would get from the sites, which led to books and obviously collage photomontage stuff. So it’s probably a desire to see things reused, repurposed - it’s kind of recycling in a sense - and yeah probably my fascination with abandoned or used things, and items which I can take and that kind of thing come out in cut up bits of paper really. I enjoy the sort of lack of control I have over what material I get. Say I want to do something which has a big cactus on it, for example, but then with the material you can get hold of, there’s not going to be something the same as what you have in your mind so you have to make do with what you can get. Yet there still is an element of control in terms of how you then manipulate this material. I like that relationship - it’s a constant balancing act between lack of control and surprise, and being able to control what you do have into something.

How would you say you approach beginning a piece of work?

The majority of stuff I make (because I have so little time), is usually for a purpose like an upcoming show, (ignoring the illustrative and design side of things). So that being the case, if the show has a theme around it, for example there’s one at the minute about offence in art, and people’s perceptions of offence. So, with something like that I’ll get a vague idea of what I’m doing. I decided to illustrate a list of scoring criteria for funding which we (CUN) were denied due to ‘offensive content’. So with that I wanted to look at it and illustrate with collage how we have failed to reach each of their targets, so it starts very loosely, and then I’ll go to my huge pile of books and materials and start picking bits out of them. After that it’s a case of laying thing out on paper and begin layering it up. If I don’t like what I’ve done, I can cut it back up and do it again. It’s a process of developing things like that really.

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You talk about reconfiguring and reimagining ephemera and material which, as you say, is very much an ongoing process. How do you know then when a piece of work is finished?

Well it’s either when I’m sick of looking at it (!), or when I add another element and it’s just not right. The majority of my work is pretty uncontrolled and messy, I think probably the only thing that did have control was a series of pieces on pure white backgrounds, on which I didn't want any unnecessary marks, so some of these were scrapped which is quite unusual for me. Generally, the beauty is its very messy and experimental, and of course you get those irregularities and things that you don’t foresee. I like doing series, and with the landscapes, they’ve gone through a number of iterations I guess - they've been changed, some of them have been cut apart and then mixed with other ones to create new landscapes. I’m not particularly precious about most of the things I do, they’re all fairly disposable in a way, they’re there to be changed in general.

You’re very specific in that you consider collage, illustration and design to be separate areas of your practice. How often do they overlap?

Yes, I do see them as very separate things, but that’s probably not so much aesthetically but rather the purpose they serve. So there are many crossover elements like the use of shape and line in collage and the use of colour and overlaying in design comes from that, and then illustration sits somewhere in-between the two. It’s within publications really where they all actually meet, but there have been things, for instance, which have been collage, but treated as an illustrative project, particularly when in response to a brief. So in some ways, there’s little difference between some of my collages and illustration works. Although as I say, if an article, T shirt design or editorial opportunity came along, it would become more illustrative or design-based, because it would be in response to a brief, rather than being self-initiated. In a way they’re quite loosely defined- it’s probably more so that I can get it straight in my own head where things sit and what I do!

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Sat next to the rapidly increasing capabilities of design software, paper collage could be perceived to be comparatively limited in its traditional rooting. What is it that keeps drawing you back to this process?

Well I just think it would be a shame to create everything digitally. The thing I love about collage is that lack of control - the abnormalities and mistakes you get, whereas, if you work digitally you lose that relationship because you can manipulate things in pretty much any way you wish. You have complete control - you can be as precise or loose as required. There are, of course, some things that you just can’t do digitally. Actually finding and handling materials and cutting them apart is just an enjoyable process to be honest.

As we’ve discussed, this autonomous dynamic of embracing ‘mistakes’ and irregularities is integral to your relationship with collage. Can you think of an example in which a mistake has actually ruined a work or damaged it beyond repair?

Well there have been, but on each occasion, it might then be replaced with a new version of it. I don’t think there has ever been a time in which I’ve set out to do something and it’s just been like; ‘no this isn’t happening’. Obviously there have been bits and pieces which just aren’t any good and need to be done again, but in general, because these materials can be used again and again, then quite a lot of them are hybrids of other collages or things that have gone wrong. It’s very unusual for me to completely scrap an idea because something doesn’t work. When I worked in pen or pencil, mistakes really would ruin something.

So what’s the master plan then- where do you see yourself in, say, five years time?

Job-wise, graphic design and illustrative editorial projects come as a priority. But with my work, it’s a case of continuing with exhibitions and so forth - working towards something that I can consider being a viable practice which actually gets me some form of monetary gain on a regular basis! It’s about finding a way in which I can combine all of the above elements together which often comes in the form of publications. The dream would be to be able to make kids’ picture books and get my money from those as an artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

To see more: robjameson.co.uk

 

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Sean O’Connell is the Leeds-based photographer behind Broth Tarn, if you haven’t already seen it; his latest zine was recently launched and focuses on Northern Realism and Unpopular Culture. He currently has an exhibition at local independent craft ale shop Tall Boys Beer Market, a space in which he will be curating a lot of other exhibitions within the coming months. I met up with him at his house in Hyde Park to chat about his work and what he’s been up to.

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Hello, Sean, can you tell me a bit about what Broth Tarn is and how it came about?

So, Tarn is town- it’s Broth Town, but it’s spelt Tarn because it’s like how we’d say it with our accent. I don’t think a lot of people get that, but that started maybe 6 years ago or something when we started saying broth instead of saying “oh that’s shit, that’s disgusting” you’d say “that’s broth”. It’s because we saw this old guy eating a can of broth on this campsite, it was just a cold can of broth and we thought it was funny. So then we started calling Barnsley Broth Town, and then it went to Broth Tarn, and because we all BMX it became what we’d call our BMX scene in Barnsley. Now, it’s still a group of us, but people relate it to the photographs instead, they don’t really know about the BMX side of it.

So there’s a group of you?

Yeah, yeah. There’s like a crew/scene type thing.

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Cool. Your site say that you focus on Northern Realism and Unpopular Culture, what does that mean to you?

Because we’re from Barnsley, but go back and forth from Leeds, everything where I’m from- that’s what it’s like. I’m not trying to prove anything or go out of my way to do something horrible, that’s what it’s like where I’m from. So it’s just what it is, basically.

Sean started pointing out some of his photos that we’d be looking at – This guy, that’s just from the bottom of my street at home, that’s my granddad's garden, that’s the school bus I used to catch, it’s all just real life shit. It’s kinda like I’m taking advantage of where I’m from.

Do you think that where you’re from has influenced your work a lot?

Yeah, definitely, because I’d come to uni and there’d be a lot of southerners and they’d talk about things like, for example, when Thatcher died. They’d say things like “why’s everyone kicking off?” Because they weren’t affected by this, no one here has been affected by her life, they’d say, “who knows anyone who worked down a mine?” all this sorta shit. And then, I was thinking, “Well this is fucking real, this is what happened to my Granddad.” They didn’t think it was real or relatable or whatever, so then I realised that I had something to go with, because stuff that I thought was normal, other people thought was pretty fucking crazy and didn’t really exist.

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Do you think your use of black & white shows that? 

Yeah definitely, but then, I’m colour blind. So I can’t really be arsed messing round with colour and stuff ‘cause I don’t know what looks right and what doesn’t look right. So a lot of people think, “yeah black & white suits this subject matter.” But really, I didn’t know what to do with colours so I just did black & white anyway.

You tend to focus on Leeds and northern towns, why have you chosen to do that?

Half the reason why I like doing it is because I can do it as part of everyday life, we can go out riding or for a wander about – something I’d do even if I didn’t take photos, you know? So it’s easy, you can do it on your way to work or on your way riding or in town, its all just there.

Is any of your work planned, then? Or is it more instinctual?

I’d say about 80% of my stuff is unplanned, like; you just take it as it comes. Recently, I’ve got into organising to meet up with people to take a few photos of them, but that’s only a newish thing. I’m just trying to figure out how to get better at that, I guess.

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How do you choose the people? There are pictures of your friends and family too, aren’t there?

So all the pictures of my friends and family, that’s not planned, that’s just spur of the moment, quick things.

You said that you want to get into more editorial stuff, what projects are you working on at the moment?

There’s a few skally girls I've been talking to who are up for doing some photos out and about, I think they want photos for their portfolios etc. And I want to get a body of work of models and stuff, so it’s, like, win for both of us, really.

At the moment you’ve got the exhibition at Tall Boys, how’s that going?

That’s going pretty well. I think that’s the first time people other than my friends have seen my photography and stuff, before then it’s just been me showing my mates it, but now people who wouldn’t have had the chance to see it are getting involved and it’s going well.

Are there any other mediums you use, like Tumblr, to get your work out?  

I’d say the biggest social media for me is Instagram at the minute. I made a tumblr just so I had a website to send to people, not to use it as you would Facebook or anything, just for an online portfolio really. Instagram is where a lot more people are seeing it that wouldn’t normally see it. That seems to have kicked off more than anything.

Are there any photos that are your favourite, or that have had the best reception from people?

My personal favourite one is this one at the minute 2 boys smoking against a wall that just sums it up, really. That is just like me and my mates, 10 years ago or whatever.

So it sums up the Broth Tarn ideology?

Yeah, that’s it. Just scally kids mooching about, just being young and wandering about. That sums it up perfectly.

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Are there any inspirations behind your work, or particular photographers you like?

Yeah, there’s a guy called Ricky Adam- I’ve known of him for ages because he’s a really good BMX photographer. He’s done with all of that stuff now, now he does shit like this, but he’s just fucking mint. He works at Leeds Uni, in the Broadcasting Tower, so I can just pop in there and chill with him and he’s got a sick selection of books, so I’ll just go and look through his books and chat. Joe Bailey too, he's a BMX photographer and he’s taught me how to do everything I know, pretty much.

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Is there a particular way that you like to produce your photos?

Yeah, I’ve just got a darkroom set up in the basement. That’s how I want to do everything from now on; I don’t care about digital stuff at all. I much prefer using film; digital stuff’s a bit stale compared to film. Just everything about it is better.

So in Leeds where would be your favourite place to take pictures?

Outside of the city centre. I’ll go to areas that are like where I grew up, so that’d be like council estates, anywhere where there’s no students. No people that have moved to Leeds. People that have been born here and stayed here. The real side of Leeds.

Do you think the students have had a bad impact on Leeds?

Not in a money-making sense. It’s a good opportunity for a lot of independent stuff. The other side of it is it’s getting a bit too like London or America, but at the end of the day it’s Yorkshire. People forget that.

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You wanna keep Leeds authentic, then?

Yeah, it’s hard to find authentic stuff round here anymore. That’s why you’ve got to go to old council estates and stuff where it’s the same.

The exhibition is running until 1st March, right?

Yeah it’s gonna go a little bit over that now. Maybe ‘til after the first week of March. So after that March is gonna be empty, then April we’ve got Reece Leung, a skate photographer who’s gonna put an exhibition up. This should be a good year for local artists, having a gallery space at Tall Boys. It's a place to show work without having to go through application forms and grueling interviews. Just email me, and if we're into your stuff we'll put it up, simple as that.

See more of Sean's work here.

 

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Anyone who has been to a large music festival, so pretty much everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock since beginning puberty, is likely to have had some sort of sensory psychedelic transcendence aided by visuals provided by a live VJ. However, despite becoming an important production component of any half decent festival, elaborate visuals rarely form part of club night.

I held this opinion until early one morning, at the height of last magic mushroom season, I ambled through the doors of Back To Basics in order to watch experimental techno aficionado Andrew Weatherall. I was delighted to be met by this...

Think Tank - 3D Projection Mapping from Haydn Robinson on Vimeo.

The music, visuals and unrivalled Basics’ atmosphere definitely provided an experience that lay beyond the ordinary range of sensory perception. This is the Think Tank, created and developed by 3D Motion Designer Haydn Robinson. So what exactly is it and how did it come about?

What first attracted you to art and how did you end up combining it with music?

I was really intrigued by animation and visual effects, so that is what I studied. I’d been DJing for about five years before I started that, so I just decided to mix the two together. So when I first started VJing, I was just rocking up to nights and doing it for free, or just for the cost of travel and a few beers. It was only about two years ago I had my first proper projection mapping gig.

Where was that and how did it come about?

That was down at Beaverworks for Brotherhood Soundsystem. I made a little test video; three cubes and a pyramid, and put it online. It was spotted by George Hartshorn and he got touch and asked me to come down and do something at his night.

What exactly is projection mapping and how does it differ from other forms of digital media?

You take projectors, create bespoke graphics designed for a particular show and used the projection mapping software to match up at points onto the surface you are projecting onto.

So, my head has been severely twisted by the Think Tank twice now, tell us about that project?

The idea behind that was to create the best possible effect using the most minimal materials possible. That was in order to make it affordable because a lot of club nights, they want high quality projection mapping but as soon as you start adding up the costs they may well reconsider. It’s not something that is going to draw in the crowds like a headline DJ, y’know? So my aim with the Think Tank was to make it more affordable without compromising on quality of experience. With it being two large flat screens, one in front of the DJ and one behind encasing the DJ in the visuals, it opens the door to using a greater variety of graphics. Sometimes with different shaped screens you are limited to what you can use. You create graphics for that structure and they will only work for that structure, it can be very time consuming.

BacktoBasics - Think Tank 3D Projection Mapped DJ Booth from Haydn Robinson on Vimeo.

What was the inspiration behind the Think Tank and the graphics projected onto it?

There is DJ Yoda Magic Cinema Show which also uses a flat screen but also V Squared Labs. They operate mainly out of the States and go about creating very elaborate stage structures, crazy abstract shapes. They have to create specific graphic for them shapes and then you’re talking a couple of grand for the production. So yeah I set about creating the best effect possible for at affordable price.

What sort of experience do you aim to deliver to the clubber on the ground?

With the Think Tank the idea was to have the visuals audio reactive so you’ve got visual responding to the sound, the DJ is at the centre of it all. I really try and come up with something that represents the soundtrack the DJ is presenting.

Illuminating York 2014 - Space & Time Projection Mapping from Haydn Robinson on Vimeo.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

It’s just that overwhelming sense of achievement. It’s such a pressure, rush and to be honest a bit of a stress sometimes. Trying to get it all together because it’s always very last minute, usually the club has had an event the night before so you can’t install until the actual day. Sometimes you find that you are working over 24 hours to make it happen. But when it comes together it’s all fun and games. I really enjoyed supporting David Rodigan at MiNT Festival because he’s an absolute legend.

So what have you got in the pipeline?

Well the Think Tank is in quite big demand at the moment. There is negotiations going on and a potential for collaboration with some high profile DJs but I don’t want to say too much until it’s all squared off. But in the long run I am looking to go down the holographic route. I want to look at the emerging technology that hasn’t really graced the scene yet, especially when it comes to club visuals. You have seen a little bit of visuals with the Tupac hologram at Coachella but it really is new territory still. One thing that I have pushed for, particularly at Outlook Festival, is a hologram of Bob Marley. I know it has been requested loads but nobody seems to be doing anything about it. It would only take about a five grand investment and if you think about the wow factor of seeing Bob Marley, maybe alongside The Wailers. Imagine having Bob Marley and The Wailers on your line up. It is just finding someone who is willing to put up the initial investment, I’m confident I will.

You can contact Haydn via his website here. @oldspeak1

 

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Ever seen that Travelodge advert ‘there’s no sleep ’til bedtime’? It promotes action-packed days of fun and adventure (swimming, cycling, playing etc) before residing to your room for a great night's sleep in a warm and comfortable bed. Well this festival is like a taking-the-cake version of that really; there’s no hotel, no bed and the activities are somewhat less family friendly - from death-defying mountain biking and night time skiing, to having the skin of your ass torn open by relentless jagged rocks in the New Mexico desert.

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The Banff Mountain Film Festival is considered to be the most prestigious festival of its kind, celebrating the most accredited film makers and explorers in the world and placing them and their ventures firmly in the spotlight. The eight shortlisted films this year (ranging from two to forty minutes) take us to all corners of the globe, from the Venezuelan Amazon and the China-Mongolia border, to the northern reaches of Canada to the Yosemite Valley in California - and that’s just one film. It has to be said, there are things here that will well and truly boggle the mind. That run you went on this morning - forget about it. And as for that thigh-busting bike ride you enjoyed - did you forward flip over a fence? Thought not! Jaw dropping as the physical achievements of these films are, what makes these films so captivating and enjoyable to watch is their accessibility and familiarity, not necessarily in terms of the action and adventure, but the relentless drive of the tenacious ambition and focus that we all have the capacity to activate within ourselves to achieve our goals: whether its to lose weight, conquer a fear or other personal targets. Rather than exhibiting untouchable machines programmed solely for thrill-seeking, these films portray delightful journeys of ambition, conviction, humanity and good spirit. The festival is undeniably encouraging and inspiring, but for most of us this will probably be on a more grounded level; to be more ambitious, adventurous and driven within our lives and day-to-day activities, rather than sweat it out in the blistering desert heat climbing a rock tower in the shape of a massive cock.

We caught up with Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron, the makers of Into the Empty Quarter, a film which exhibits the 45 day journey of the two adventurers as they drag a homemade steel cart through the fierce desert heat of the Arabian desert. This beautifully-shot film is a real visual diamond, capturing the timeless beauty of the immense expanses of wilderness, as well as providing a fantastically compassionate look at the strengthening of human relations both between themselves and the people of the Middle East.

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What can you tell us about your inspirations for this film project?

We were inspired by Wilfred Thesiger's journey in his book Arabian Sand. Our journey was inspired by him but not a recreation. He used camels. We pulled a terrible homemade cart!

What preparations did you make for your venture?

Not enough! About 2 months before I was due to go to the South Pole but that trip fell through so this trip was a real rush! We were both already fit so most of our efforts were on building a cart and working out where we could resupply with water.

What was the greatest challenge you faced?

The varied terrain. We knew that we would encounter Tarmac, dirt tracks, gravel plains and deep sand. Our cart then was always going to be a compromise...

What was the biggest enjoyment of your adventure?

The people we met! The kindest most welcoming people I have ever met. They laughed a lot, gave us food and water and thought we were crazy. The real, good, friendly Middle East.

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Having not known each other very well before this expedition, how would you say the relationship between yourselves developed throughout your experience?

Very well indeed. At first we were quite formal and polite. By the end we were swearing and abusing each other: always the sign of a good friendship! We became very good friends.

Describe the brutalities of the environment you contended with.

Rationed water, hauling a 300kg cart, dried food. But the worst was the blazing sun which sucks every drop of energy from you. At noon we lay like mechanics under our cart in the only scrap of shade we could find for a couple of hours just pouring sweat.

A lot of adventurers choose to document their experiences through writing. Why do you consider the visual arts to be the most appropriate medium for your endeavours?

We are both writers. But I'm learning to love the challenge of trying to tell a story through video. It's much harder than writing. And TouTube allows us to engage with a wider, bigger audience than our niche appeal travel books.

Do you have a core production team that you work with?

We did all the filming ourselves. We worked with a great guy (Scott) who helped us coax a coherent story out of all our ramblings!

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Do you have any other exciting ventures lined up?

Our desert film showed at the Banff festival in Canada last year. We flew out to it but decided to walk from the airport to the festival instead of taking a bus. We are now making a film about this journey.!..!

Banff Moutain Film Festival films: Touch (5 minutes) Into the Empty Quarter (20 minutes) Sun Dog (5 minutes) Drawn (40 minutes) The Ridge (7 minutes) Mending the Line (20 minutes) Afterglow (3 minutes) Sufferfest 2 (27 minutes)

 

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Parallel Lives brings together solo shows by two artists, Marlow Moss and Claude Cahun, that run alongside each other at Leeds Art Gallery.

The Marlow Moss display brings together paintings and sculptures by the British artist, who died in 1958. Moss studied at Slade, then worked in Paris with Mondrian and subsequently returned to Cornwall. Her work was radical and ahead of its time, and has had a marked impact on subsequent generations of artists.

Her work is abstract and the sculptures are described as Constructivist; an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia 1919, and rejected the idea of autonomous art. As such, the works displayed are not representational or figurative and use industrial materials in their fabrication.

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Lucy Howarth, who has completed her PhD on Moss, and this is the first time her work has been shown in this country. Whilst very well represented in European collections, here only Leeds Art Gallery and Tate have acquired her work.

Claude Cahun’s exhibition brings together sixteen photographic self-portraits dating from 1914 to 1945, which trace her life and show her in various different guises. These are presented in a chronological frieze and are the original prints from the Jersey Heritage Collection.

Alongside these self-portraits there is a selection of exhibition prints that have been printed to offer another view of Cahun as a photographer; her surreal still life shots. Some use her own body in the landscape, and many draw on the natural flora and fauna of Jersey.

Rich Jevons talks to Leeds Art Gallery Curator Sarah Brown about Moss and Cahun’s work.

Claude-Cahun-installation---Jerry-Hardman-Jones-photo

What are the connections between the two artists?

We have brought these artists together to be considered in parallel with each other – they are solo shows alongside each other but we have not shown their work together.

Both artists shared many personal similarities, they lived and died within years of each other, both adopted masculine appearances, worked collaboratively with their partners, were Jewish in Paris during the 20’s and 30’s but their work is incredibly different.

Cahun was a surrealist; her riveting self-portraits ahead of their time and her photographs engaging and experimental. Moss committed to abstract painting and sculpture.

These were both women who adopted very striking appearances. Moss cut a striking figure with slicked back hair, a Noel Coward appearance, a cigarette, wearing jodhpurs and suits, a cravat; she looked very striking.

Cahun adopted many different appearances and played with notions of feminine and masculine looks. This is very significant in Cahun’s work as she is the subject of her work whereas in Moss’ work she is absent and she is not the subject of her work.

Why did they change their names?

It was not unusual for artists to change their names, nor for women to change their names to names that do not suggest or reveal their gender. Marjorie Jewel Moss changed her name to Marlow Moss and Lucy Schwob changed her name to Claude Cahun.

What was Cahun's particular interest in the self-portrait as a medium?

She was firstly a writer and she used her own image to explore different identities in her writing, creating fictional and mythical characters which we can see in her photographs. Her photographs were collaborations with her partner Marcel Moore. In this exhibition we have presented the self-portraits but also printed up exhibition copies of her own work to give an insight into her as an object maker and photographer.

How much was Moss influenced by Mondrian?

Moss was one of the artists who founded a movement call Abstract Creation – committed to making abstract art. She studied in Paris where she met Mondrian. Certainly her paintings resonate with Mondrian’s, but they are also very different. Mondrian started with a white background onto which he added his black lines and colours, whereas Moss added white at the end.


Whilst Moss’ work does seem rather cold and clinical, the exhibition is of great interest on art historical grounds alone, highlighting the pioneering women in experimental art movements. Taken in parallel as Leeds Art Gallery intends, Cahun’s photographs balance Moss’ dryness with wonderful wit and teasing playfulness.

See the Art in Yorkshire film about Parallel Lives that takes a look behind the scenes at the installation of the exhibition.

Parallel Lives runs until 7 September 2014 at Leeds Art Gallery.