Artist Interview with Adam Ashley – On His Winning Image of Roshan for the DLA Piper Weekly ‘Life in the UK’ Photography Competition via the London Culture Club
Interviewer: Meera Shah, Director at Galleria Meera
*** UPDATE *** SINCE WINNING THE WEEKLY COMPETITION, ADAM ASHLEY WENT ON TO WIN THE OVERALL ‘LIFE IN THE UK’ COMPETITION WITH THE IMAGE TITLED ‘UNSUNG HERO’, DISPLAYED AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE.
Adam Ashley is a photographer based in the UK. After studying Graphic Design at Bradford College over 20 years ago, he has had a long art and design career. He predominantly photographs people and loves to show his subjects’ true humanity in his portraiture.
Adam recently entered the DLA Piper ‘Life in the UK’ weekly photo competition via their London Culture club. This image was a portrait of Galleria Meera’s signed artist, Roshan, showing him working on his latest series about racism, titled ‘Elephant in the Tomb’. The image won the category of ‘Be Bold’.
‘Painting with Light’, was what Adam decided to call this winning portrait, so let’s hear more from him.
Meera: Adam, congratulations on the win! Tell us more about the name of the image ‘Painting with Light’.
Adam: Thank you, Meera! The name stems from the meaning of Roshan’s name which he told me means ‘light’. I thought that was fantastic as photography also means painting with light.
Meera: Great! I think it’s a really compelling image that portrays Roshan painting, but also makes you want to see what he is painting. I can see why it won the competition. Great Job. Our readers will want to know more about you as an artist, so tell us a bit about your art background? What got you started in the art world?
Adam: Thank you Meera. I got my appreciation for art from my dad as he would draw me superheroes when I was young. He inspired me to study art and design and when we lost him, buying a camera gave me motivation to get out and do him proud.
In almost two decades I’ve photographed some important people in their fields, been to amazing events and worked with some great companies. I hope one day when my children are old enough, they too can appreciate the art form and looking back on some of my work, I hope that they’ll draw comfort from it.
Meera: That is lovely, I’m sure they must have an amazing set of images documenting their growth. So one of the things I wanted to ask about was your creative process when deciding the theme of your images for this particular competition?
Adam: Thank you and yes, part of the competition brief was to create an image that was my interpretation of “Be Bold” and what Roshan does in his work speaks to me, and ‘being bold’. Standing up for what you believe is important to me and voicing that belief takes guts. We should always listen too though so that we can have healthy conversations through art and literature. Which is why I think that creating and consuming art is so important.
So after some discussion with Roshan, we decided to get a handful of images of him creating his new series ‘Elephant in the Tomb’, the artwork touches on race and racial hatred and some of the imagery in this series can be very hard to digest. But that’s part of being bold too.
Meera: I agree, I think the message in the ‘Elephant in the Tomb’ series is incredible. It not only addresses the present state of racism but gives historical context of the slavery days too. Do you feel that it’s important for corporations and companies to engage with art and emerging artists?
Adam: Absolutely. I think that art and creativity is everywhere, and it is the lifeblood of everything in the commercial world, from adverts, packaging, to branding. Companies need an image, and with social media playing a huge part in today’s society, there’s been no better time to talk with businesses and help create that image.
As with all types of photography, there’s potential for emerging photographers to get their foot in the door with the business world by doing corporate portraits, or landscapes and fine art for wall art, and when the world goes back to normal, even events.
Meera: Yes, as someone who’s been a marketing executive and managed PR and consultancy projects for FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies, what I’ve found is the push to integrate a larger number of creative thinkers and problem solvers within corporate structures. With your background in commercial photography, I’m curious to know what was it that made you choose an artist such as Roshan to capture in your images for the competition, instead of say, a business person?
Adam: I’ll have known Roshan professionally and as a friend for 13 years this year. We both have professional design backgrounds, as well as our shared love of the lens. I know that whenever we meet, we always have a blast and the amazing thing about the man is his exceptional level of emotional intelligence. We can talk for hours and bounce ideas back and forth, and this really shines through his art as well. So I thought it’d be most fitting to capture a fellow artist as a part of my art too.
Meera: Great. Having seen Roshan painting his latest work, which of the pieces in the Elephant in the Tomb series would you say is your favourite?
Adam: I had a long think about it. It’s tough. But I think in the end, my favourite from the series is Nude Allude. The thing I liked about that painting was the fact it’s almost like patchwork cloth with the texture, and reminds me of how wrongly we can see things. Also that all the colours seen in the piece are considered to be a normal flesh tone, when really we are all unique, and in my opinion normal is a thing that doesn’t really exist. I think more and more people are realising that. What we once considered normal is now a bit of a strange concept and make believe, yet we are still given boxes and told to fit in. I think that’s what that painting said to me loud and clear.
Meera: Thank you for sharing that, Adam. Are you working on any new projects? What are they about?
Adam: Weddings, events and businesses have all been closed for a while now due to the lockdown. This gave me a bit of time to look at things such as my website and also pick up some more of the fun projects such as this one.
I also have a friend who makes metal roses and is in the process of setting up his own business called ‘Steamwerks Forge’, so I’ve been wanting to try and get some amazing images of those, as I think they look really cool. I’ve also been walking around my hometown looking for some quirky places for shoots. I look forward to building my portfolio with more personal and non-commercial work. This time that we’ve had has been great for that.
Meera: I fully agree. Adam, thank you for the interview, and congratulations again!
Adam: You’re welcome and thank you Meera. Best with the future.
*** UPDATE *** SINCE WINNING THE WEEKLY COMPETITION, ADAM ASHLEY WENT ON TO WIN THE OVERALL ‘LIFE IN THE UK’ COMPETITION WITH THE IMAGE TITLED ‘UNSUNG HERO’, DISPLAYED BELOW.