If you feel nostalgic about the old days when instant analogue cameras were all the rage, you shouldn’t miss Inventory: 10 Polaroid Years, an exhibition of work by London-based photographer Wendy Bevan, running at the Cob Gallery from 11th – 14th April. Free from digital manipulation, Wendy’s photos are superbly surreal, providing an alternative to the glossy, heavily retouched imagery that proliferates today. The exhibition brings together a valuable selection of personal works, alongside unpublished images from commissions for internationally renowned publications, including Vogue, Vogue Italia, I-D, Harpers Bazaar, Muse Magazine, The Independent.
How did you first get into photography? And why did you choose to work exclusively in Polaroid films?
I loved looking through old family photographs when i was a child. There was something so special about the memories, and the emotions that you can capture in a photograph.
I remember I used to be so thrilled when i got a roll of film back from the printers, the suspense was really special. We don’t have that now with the emerge of digital photography. Everything is there instantly; digitally we build the image we want in post-production, after we’ve taken it and have full control over it. Polaroid allows me to instantly see the image, and it aesthetically creates a look and texture that clarifies my visual concept. I will always love the magic of Polaroid.
You are best know for your surreal and sympathetic portrayal of the feminine form; I wondered, who are your main influences?
I draw influences from all areas of the arts. Although best known for my photography, I actually have a multi-disciplinary approach to my work and am heavily influenced by theatre, live-art/performance and music. I also really love film. Artist’s who i’m influenced by include; Cindy Sherman, Sarah Moon, Irina Ionesco, David Lynch, Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Guy Maddin, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Wim Wenders, just to name a few.
How would you describe the relationship between the work in the fashion industry and your artistic production?
It all rolls into one. Different strands of one practice.
You have collaborated with magazines such as i-D, Vogue, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar, just to name a few; who would you like to work with in the future?
There are lots of great new publications out there that i’d like to work with. I’m also planning to start working on a photography book in the next couple of years, so i’d love to find a great publisher to work with on this project.
What other interests do you have beside photography? I read that theatre, music and performance have always played a big role in your artistic work.
Yes, absolutely; part of my practice as an artist I work with and across all these genres. I have just opened another show at the SPILL Festival of Performance, which focuses on Live Art practices, across theatre. My show ’The Pain of Desire’ was shown at ArtsAdmin, Toynbee Theatre. The show was an immersive, theatrical music performance, with live visuals; centred around a Femme Fatale character, who leads the show through song’s of tragedy, loss of love, and rotten pain.
Speaking of music, you are the lead singer of Temper Temper; how did the band form?
I formed Temper Temper as part of an idea that I wanted to develop; using music and performance, and visuals. We have performed in some fantastic venues, across the UK such as the ICA in London, Europe and in New York and worked with some great theatre companies including Punch Drunk.
As a last question, what’s next on your agenda after Inventory?
Building the archive for the next 10 years!
Wendy Bevan – Inventory: 10 Polaroid Years will be running from 11th – 14th April at the Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College Street London NW1 0SG.
Approximately 200 Polaroids will be available for sale; each signed by the artist, with prices starting from £150.
More information on Wendy Bevan can be found here
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari