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Julia Andrews-Clifford: 3D photomontages

Julia Andrews-Clifford: 3D photomontages

Real Lives at the Kave

When Julia Andrews-Clifford and Ness Mann first met at a children’s group in Hastings, they had no idea of the exciting, shared journey ahead of them. Initially, they were overwhelmed by the number of parallel experiences they had in common, and their friendly chats soon evolved into a very creative partnership. The current exhibition at The Kave gallery, Real Lives, is a significant landmark in that journey. HOT reporter Cathy Simpson finds out more about their real lives and art.

Ness Mann studied sculpture at Norfolk Institute of Art & Design, and then ceramics at Rochester Institute of Art & Design, but it is interesting that her work shows such an intuitive feel for painting and surface pattern – given that her training was in three-dimensional areas. Her main inspiration was the photographer Vivian Maier, not just for her sensitive shots of ephemeral street life, but the fact that she was a hoarder and very secretive about her work. Many of the photos capture a passing moment in time, and Ness’s paintings feature figures in swimming pools – almost the ultimate ‘fleeting moment’.

Ness Mann: Dive

Ness Mann: Dive

“I’m fascinated by water, but I worked from photos for these. I know who the people are, but I’ve taken their names away to maintain their anonymity. In a pool you have an existence which is apart from the rest of life,” she muses. “Water makes everyone into a blob!”

The paintings themselves are a beautiful blend of abstract and figurative, exquisite surface patterns twisting and twirling, sometimes almost like fireworks. But they never lose that sense of movement, and as a viewer you can almost feel a sensation of diving!

The hoarding aspect of Maier’s life is reflected in two very different pieces: very literal representations of toys. They came from a hoard in an attic, “old childhood friends of mine”; the pictures are sensitive, beautiful and have that slightly sinister quality that toys taken out of context often have. For the viewer, they are like ‘portraits of people you don’t know’, but for Ness herself they have an identity and a history – and even a character – of their own.

Julia Andrews-Clifford studied Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, and Design & Film Studies at the University of Westminster. Julia acknowledges her debt to the Dadaist Hannah Höch in her use of photomontage, but her own background in film is just as important: “I combine the close-up with the long shot, a freeze-frame with a zoom.” She is fascinated by real lives, the paradox that celebrities are superficially well-known, whilst remaining personally anonymous, and how sometimes even people we think we know well have an inner life of which we know nothing. “My mother’s real life was only revealed after her death. But she was an icon to me!”

Julia explains that her works always begin with carefully selected images with their own particular significance. She discusses her piece, Constellation:

Julia Andrews-Clifford: Constellation

Julia Andrews-Clifford: Constellation

“They all start off with people of some significance, but then they morph into what works compositionally.

There are actors and film makers – all stars. But when I started to manipulate the shapes by hand, some people had to go, because they just didn’t fit visually!”


This exhibition was curated from existing bodies of work, but they hope to collaborate more fully in the future. The plan in the pipeline is to explore the concept of female identity – and it will be very intriguing to see the results!

Real Lives is at The Kave gallery, 8 Kings Road, St Leonards, TN37 6EA until 1 May 2014.

Tel: 01424 422056


Posted 07:20 Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 In: Visual Arts

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