Introducing… Jon Eland

Ok, this is a little odd, I admit – I’m effectively introducing myself. But, I thought it was important that we all gave our angle on the project – so here’s my take on the same questions the other artists are answering!

Q: How did you find the project?

A: I found it interesting and challenging – I have photographed texture as a subject before; but never have I focused specially on it. It was lucky I was shooting digital as I found myself time and again meandering off and shooting something else of interest. But I had a good few hours wandering Leeds with Debi – I hope the results are as interesting to you guys as it was for us shooting it.

Detail of shale deposits. Part of a future project on Broxburn's Bings.

Q: Prior to taking part in this project how much did you know about Louisville?

A fair bit – I helped host photographer Michael Brohm from the city, when he visited Leeds in March 2011 – and made the return trip myself for 10 days in September. I won’t claim to be an expert but I have an insight into the similarities in the cities – the emerging tech and cultural communities, the worker mentality and the interesting dynamic you get form a middle-sized city. I’m only too glad to try and foster links between our cities – and look forward to getting myself back!

What is your attitude to collaborative projects such as this?

I strongly believe that collaboration and sharing of skills and experiences now provide us with one of the best and most unique opportunities for our current generations to develop and progress. It always excites me when people come together to share and you see new connections being made. Isolated creative people are from a past age – working together rocks! 

What advice would you give to other creatives considering getting involved?

I’d have to say – “Get involved” – but not because it benefits others. Do it for yourself; it’s a great way to connect with someone you otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to work with – to learn from and gives you a chance to expose yourself to their ways of working, their insights and their experiences. Oh, and a chance to get your work seen by like-minded people in a city thousands of miles away on the other side of an ocean! 

Doorway detail, Lublin, Poland (Aug. 2011)

Describe your general creative practice?

I’m firming up what it is; part of me is a creative entrepreneur – looking for ways to develop as an artist by working with and learning from others. My photography has grown massively in just the last 12 months and I’m looking for other ways to get my work out there – and for me to make it differently in the first place. 2011 saw me produce over a dozen zines, exhibit in Scotland and London, expand the photo group I founded (Exposure Leeds), join an artist’s collective and produce two bodies of work from waste. I’ve also published 3 zines – one a monograph, another my images and others’ words and the third a response to a workshop event I facilitated. All on top of the major photoshoot during my visit to Louisville.

It’s safe to say – I like trying new things. 

Any recent highlights from your creative career?

I think I’ve covered that off above. The trip to Louisville was amazing though; and if this project gathers some momentum it’ll really be the icing on the cake.

After this – what is next for you?

I’m currently planning to take part in an artist’s book exhibition, a couple of photo workshops, a return to Scotland, production of a couple more zines and a trip to a lovely place I know in Kentucky… not to mention (and this really gets my nerves going) – an imminent presentation of my findings during the 2011 Louisville trip.

All images © Jon Eland 2011 – All Rights Reserved. See more of his work on his website.

Introducing… Michele Larocque

Following our post a few days ago introducing you to Louisville artist, Sheri Wright, here’s a few words from here stateside colleague – Michele Larocque:

Jon: Hi Michele – thanks for taking time out to take part in this interview. First of all – how did you get involved in the project?


Michele: The other Louisville photographer, Sheri L Wright, told me about it and asked if I’d be interested in participating.

Prior to taking part in this project how much did you know about Leeds?

I’d heard the name through British film and television but didn’t know much more than that.

What is your attitude to collaborative projects such as this?

It’s a good way to “shoot outside the box” as it were, and to find inspiration, motivation and common interests and with people you might not normally encounter.

What advice would you give to other creatives considering getting involved?

It’s a good opportunity to see what’s around you in ways that you might not during day to day routine. We get used to where we are, it often simply becomes the backdrop to our daily ramblings so we stop seeing what is there. With this project you have to look deeper into a place. It can help sharpen your creative eye.

Describe your general creative practice?

Mostly I just wander. I may have an area in mind, or feel that I should go to a certain place, so I’ll follow that impulse and most often it pays off. I do my best to leave expectations, mine and other people’s, out of the process.


I went school and got some formal training and that’s been useful in some respects, I still continue to study other people’s work. I have favorite photographers, Brett Weston, Imogen Cunningham, John Daido Loori, Cartier-Bresson, Kertesz and others that I go back to time and again, not to copy or emulate but to learn to see deeper. I don’t try to shoot in ways that are currently popular. I tried a few times to shoot things a certain way because I thought that it would make my work more accessible, and though I got some decent images they simply weren’t as strong as I felt my other work to be.

I work to stay true to my vision regardless of popular appeal. I let what I see through the viewfinder and the resulting image inform me as to how it wants to be seen. In Chinese there is the word “Pu” that is often translated as “the uncarved block,” and refers to a state of pure potential which is the primordial condition of the mind before the arising of experience. It points to perception without prejudice, i.e. beyond dualistic distinctions such as right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, beautiful/ugly. I practice working from that place.

Any recent highlights from your creative career?

I’ve had images published several literary journals

After this – what is next for you?

To keep shooting, moving, seeing deeper.

All images © Michele Larocque, all rights reserved. Why not look at more of Michele’s work?

Introducing… Sheri Wright

I thought it would be good to give everyone a bit of an introduction and some context to the artist photographers taking part in this current project and so I’ve taken it upon myself to interview each. So, today I’m starting with Sheri…

Jon: Hi! Thanks for taking part in this project – as part of it I’d like to ask you a few questions to post on the new website so those buying / reading our publication can find out a bit more about what you are and do.

Let’s start with – how did you get involved with the project?

Sheri: Fortunately, the project found me by way of meeting you during a photo walk in Louisville, Kentucky. We had previously come into contact through Flickr, where you invited Louisville photographers to participate in your Sister Cities Project. I feel very honored to have been a part of this undertaking.

Prior to taking part in this project how much did you know about Leeds?

I had heard the city’s name, but knew nothing of it’s relation to Louisville as a sister city. I am very happy to have learned more of the history of Leeds, particularly its cultural heritage, museums and support for the arts. Leeds is definitely a place I would like to visit, get to know.

What is your attitude to collaborative projects such as this?

I’m all for collaborations with creative people, opening doors to new experiences and places. I think we can improve ourselves, how we relate and bridge the rest of the world by looking beyond our own personal universe. I feel it’s a privilege and a responsibility to take part in what goes on around me, stretch a little further when I can.

What advice would you give to other creatives considering getting involved?

Be willing to be open to other people’s ideas and towards working together. Artists have a tough enough time making it by themselves. But putting aside any thoughts of finical gain, consider how rich our communities could be if we all worked together to support each other, what new creations we could have and share, how we could show the importance of art in our lives, the impact it can have on those around us and in our cities.

How about you describe your general creative practice?

It can vary. Ideas can come out of nowhere any time, for a variety of reasons, sometimes no more than a notion or phrase. It’s best to always have a notebook handy because I will likely forget the big idea that jerked me out of sleep. Be a good secretary and the artist will thank you for it.

Can you share with us some recent highlights from your creative career?

I’m quite delighted to say my poetry received a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. The recognition is still sinking in. My artwork and poetry were recently featured in Public Republic, another border crossing journal.

After this – what is next for you?

I’m working on a new book that combines my poetry and photography. Very excited about this new project, having not done one quite like it before. It’s so much fun to enhance a particular form of art with another. New ideas often spark from old ones, creating something different and exciting.

Can you give us your favorite image similar to those taken for the project to share on the site?

That’s tough to say, since they are all so good. My favorite is the project as a whole. I love the concept of crossing ponds, the focus on texture and the talent to put it all together.

Can you send us something different to your work on the project to share on the site?

Thank you for offering to share a little more of my work. I do appreciate it.

Do you have a blog or online folio readers can see your work on?

More examples of my work can be seen on and at

Thanks, Sheri – I can’t wait to see and share your responses to this project!

The main image (top) is called Elipses and is one of Sheri’s pieces.
It is all rights reserved, and used with permission of the artist.

The Leeds photographers capture texture

Today Debi and I met at the Stick or Twist pub, had a good old natter and then set off to capture some Leeds textures for our contribution to this first project within this initiative.

It was dryer than recent days with a mixture of overcast and blue skies. We had a good walk past the new Leeds Arena, through Queen Square and then up past the Dry Dock to Broadcasting Place/Tower. After enjoying the rusty redness of Broadcasting Tower we continued up Back Blenheim Terrace before heading left in front of the University of Leeds’ Parkinson Tower. We grabbed a coffee at ‘Opposite’ and then headed back to the car (capturing more images and a joint self-portrait on the way).

My image set is processed and sent to Debi for her to selection a dozen images for my final gallery – but for now, why not have a look at some of the images that weren’t appropriate or which didn’t quite make the grade…

Texturally speaking

Well, as the first post I’m happy to say we are underway with our first project!

Four artists, including myself, have started creating new photographic work documenting textures of the city.

In each city a starting place was selected and the pair went out together, capturing the textures they found along the way.

The Louisvillian’s starting location was Billy Goat Strut Alley – firmly in the heart of ‘NuLu’ – an area of the city being redeveloped and formerly the location for goat racing! The Loiners chose to start at the ‘Stick or Twist’ pub – in the shadow of Leeds’ new Arena and close to both older city residential areas and new student accommodation blocks.

We are now in the process of preparing and editing a selection of these images; which will be added to a new gallery on this website and collated into a booklet that will be available to browse online and, hopefully, buy in both cities.

The project started when Jon saw Debi’s work in a local exhibition and enquired about collaboration. He’d already met Sheri when she answered a call to join him on a photo walk through the Frankfort Avenue area of Louisville during his visit. Michele was recruited by Sheri to complete the group.

Planning for the project was undertaken on Facebook.

The artists involved are in the project are Debi Holbrook (Leeds), Michele Larocque (Louisville), Sheri Wright (Louisville), and myself – Jon Eland (Leeds).

Image: Fossilised textures Jon found in Bernheim Forest, near Louisville, during his visit. © Jon Eland 2011, some rights reserved.