The Singing Photographer

 

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About / Val Kelly 

In a nutshell - I am a self taught London based singing, song writing, live performing, fine art city, urban & street inspired locational (& occasional portrait ) black & white (b&w) photographer...in short a ‘Singing Photographer’...

 

I’m as mad as a hatter about b&w photography. I confess, I love it, can’t get enough of it, forever chasing that iconic shot like that famous Harlem black cab in front of the cotton club, an off guard present day Marilyn or the controversial 11 men sat eating lunch on that scaffolding high above NY.

 

In my Indianaah Kelly, backpacking, overseas working, sporting, music making, life exploring journey, I’ve traversed and captured the essence of more than 20 odd countries. However, over the past year or so I’ve come full circle and back to exploring more fully the City of my birth – London...in particular Old & Vintage London.  (see Quintessential London).

 

Call me an old romantic but I’ve fallen head over heels with nostalgia. It may have something to do with my having lived in high ceilinged, wooden floored period Victorian buildings for close to 2 decades now. Or being constantly surrounded by drawers, boxes, walls full of old b&w prints, b&w post & greeting cards accumulated over the years sent from like minded friends...all of which I just haven’t had the heart to throw out or take down. Or simply just that it's a subject which once it began to 'speak to me', I found it impossible to close my eyes and ears and block the voice calling me.....

At some stage I guess it just sneaks into your psyche and before you know it…boom! you’re wearing 1930’s top hats as part of your stage attire, replacing your well priced contemporary desk & chest of drawers for vintage bureaus, dressers & tryptich table mirrors. You hear yourself making a solemn oath to master the art shabby chic-ing, waiting for that little pause in the creative window in order to commence shabbying everything (and everyone who) crosses your path and once in a blue moon find yourself stood outside the local eel & pie shop in your Victorian style lace ups wondering how on earth you arrived there in the first place.…

UP CLOSE - PART 1:  In the Beginning


Art as a therapeutic pastime

Prior to creating Sasara and subsequently this website, I was convinced that my career as an artist began as a therapeutic pastime during my 22yr recovery from the debilitating illness - M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).

 

It's true that during that time on the days where I was less fatigued than usual but couldn't be still, I began creating to help...well...pass the time. From a few small pieces with ink & felt tips on sheets of computer paper I began to create prolifically. It was as if I'd opened a Pandora’s box of creativity...I drew, I painted mini abstracts, I wrote lyrics to songs, poems... and on the days where I was strong enough to venture out, I dabbled in mini notebooks, on beer mats or anything that I could scribble on and I took snaps. It was fun, relaxing, rewarding, distracting, uplifting, transported me to another place. A place of wellness.

 

I always lost myself in the flow and at the moment when I began to feel my energy draining, I'd stop, literally, sit, rest & return home to re-cooperate for the next few days or week or so. 

 

The beginning of a B&W love affair

 

It's also true that I began singing and joined my first band 6 years into the illness before it had a name (the illness not the band... and it was also during that period that my love affair with b&w photography (now my main art form) began. Smack in the middle of the first exhibition I recall ever having attended. Armet Francis' compelling b&w pictorial social documentary 'Children of the Black Triangle' depicting  and comparing the lives of black children across the UK, Africa, Americas & the Caribbean.

 

I was seduced by the minimalistic storytelling and the way in which the images drew the viewer in and transported you to 'that place'. 20yrs or so on... I still have the book. Now, interweave  24yrs of receiving b&w post & greeting cards from close friends, featuring images captured by the likes of Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau etc...well, to my switched on observers it would only be a matter of time before I woke up and smelt the lattefrappechocochippocoppercupocoffeepottedcappucino...

 

Truth be told...

The more I began to immerse myself in the visual arts, like a long time friendship which ‘surprisingly appeared’ to turn itself into a lusty passionate love affair ‘overnight’,  the more I began to realise that the love affair with arty farty things in fact had begun waay waay waay before Armet...

 

From the bright eyed, free spirited, intuitive 6 year old painter who, from 'out of nowhere', drew deep underwater scenes of marine life with giant stingrays in the starring role; the 10 year old recorder & later sax playing, sight reading, harmonising, limerick & prose scribbling aspiring musician, to the young international working, backpacking, photo snapping travelling explorer, whose drawers & cupboards to this day continue to be crammed full of broken back diaries and worn out, over thumbed address books bursting at the seams with long forgotten shared stories, feel good memories of unconditional love,  generously shared cultural exchanges, vivid memories of collaborative connected smiles & long overdue open invitations.  And among it all...dog eared photos taken by a budding 10 year old photographer of her younger brother & a few years later, others of close teenage friends, shot with the same family instammatic.... 

 

Who would have thought? Over 25 years later here I am...

 

I wonder if.....no, we won’t go there...I’m here now which is all that  matters...

 

 

(coming soon...UP CLOSE - PART 2:  Origins of a travelling snapper (Blog)

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***** All images in this gallery of contemporary nostalgia are original. Shot between /©2005 – Present / by The Singing Photographer, Val Kelly***

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London Collection - Prints

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 07736 968 366

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