Mixed-media artist Dick Jewell has traversed art, fashion and music for five decades. His subject matter has spanned the infamous London nightclub Kinky Gerlinky’s fanatic clientele, to the Trans-Kalahari Desert Corridor between Namibia and Botswana, where he studied the trance music and dance of the last nomadic Khoisan tribe. His diverse body of work excavates popular culture and subcultures to question our personalities and human behaviours. Jewell’s process is enduring and solitary, he works through the night and into the early morning, searching for overlapping ideas amongst large collections of found images.
Why photomontage and collage?
I enjoy photomontage as a way of creating a visual narrative through comparison and repetition. I’m often drawn to making purely visual narratives as I feel narratives without words are more universally understandable.
How might you say you became the mixed-media artist you are today?
“I’ve always enjoyed taking photos. Maybe it was something that I inherited from my Mum, who used to make family albums. I always enjoyed looking at photos in books and magazines, and became interested in how they influenced our lives through advertising and so on. I enjoyed wearing a camera, mainly photographing my mod mates and often snapping pics of pics and the consequential hours in the darkroom with the developer and fix. This migrated onto exploring photolithography as that was how most mass photo imagery used to be disseminated into the world. That led me to produce prints about how we perceive photos and also produce books like Found Photos. As soon as I had sufficient cash, I invested in a Super8 camera. I wanted to explore film and shutter speeds, initially concentrating on the activities I’ve always loved, martial arts and dance. I’ve just carried on ever since, filming whatever I was into. Video liberated me from the three-minute reel and made it possible for me to capture a couple of hours, and record culture in a whole different way.
Where do the ideas in your films come from?
“I have to enjoy and empathise with what I’m filming, otherwise there’s no point in doing it. Head2Head, one of my most recent and ongoing projects, is a compilation of portraits of creative people, re-filmed after a thirty-year gap, comparing their attitudes to being filmed juxtaposed with their responses to questions exploring their philosophies to life, their drive, influences and ambitions, from what they eat to what they believe in, as well as considering their comparative physical and mental ageing.”
Do or Be?
"Do definitely, it's all about doing, save the Bees."