The State of Urban Loneliness

Through photography, this exhibition takes a unique look at isolation and loneliness within our cities

Exhibition runs from 26th January to the 22nd March

In collaboration with various venues around the city

Ben Bucki - Inter-City

This series is inspired by late-night rail journeys when I was at University; my first time living away from home, I was struggling with the isolation of being away and frequently travelled at night on cheap tickets between Carlisle and the Midlands. “Inter-City" is an interpretation of those bleary-eyed, cold waits on deserted station platforms, watching trains race past whilst waiting for connections. Travelling between cities I was living in a state of transit, feeling a loss of connection to the urban environment that surrounded me.

The whole project was shot using custom-modified or home-made models, and improvised sets from reclaimed and upcycled household items like filing trays and Christmas lights.

Ben is a photographer and artist, who graduated from the Cumbria Institute with a BA Hons in photography. He has since exhibited work in many locations in the West Midlands, Cumbria and Yorkshire including his own solo show at the Whitewall Gallery in Birmingham.

Claire McClean - Subject to Change

This project looks at one’s relationship with the environment and domestic space. These images investigate the transition and loss in relation to a constant shift in surroundings. Repeatedly moving around different houses/cities can take a toll on one’s sense of identity, especially in a big city. Immortalising the details of these temporary spaces that we inhabit captures the loneliness that comes with constantly moving from place to place.

Claire is a fine art and events photographer based in Leeds.
Her work centres around themes of memory, place and identity while often incorporating bold pops of colour and playful compositions.
A recent graduate of Leeds Arts University, she has been a practicing photographer for fourteen years.
Claire has exhibited on multiple occasions at Leeds Art University, as well as other locations around the city.

Instagram: cmccleanphoto

Matthias Nutschel - Japan

During a recent trip to Japan, I shot this series, fascinated by the environment. It is renowned for its technological advancements, one could even say its a bit ahead of its time. What I derived from this was how the plethora of technology that this culture is constantly exposed to, has almost shaped a passive society, glued to their phones, quite reserved but nevertheless, very genuine, humble and friendly people, even to me as a westerner in their territory.

During my time there I wanted to focus on simply capturing interesting moments of interaction of subject to either their environment, others and myself.
Their ways of living and cultural norms presented challenges for conveying these types of interactions, or at least they were harder to come by.

Instagram: @mydoormatt

Hasret Emine - Apart Together

Living in a city feels like living in a world of endless possibilities. I wanted to explore the idea that we live divided : pavements divide humans from vehicles, lines divide pedestrians from cyclists, and walls divide rooms from one another.
What does it mean to live apart together? To go about our separate lives collectively? Inside every one of us there is the desire to be noticed; to touch the hands of the tall and slender greengrocer with earth under his fingernails, to fasten our gaze into the cinema attendant’s sea-like eyes, to talk a little bit longer to the bartender who’s cutting a lime for our drink. This desire is not just ours, but is echoed through the city itself.

It is not easy to live in a city. Underneath and in between the bricks and mortar we can see the city reflecting our own human desire for connection. It holds us in this lonely city.

Instagram: tesrahasret

Holly Braithwaite - SKIN

Skin examines the overlooked details of contemporary architecture. I responded to the feeling of loneliness in various cities, from Manchester to Berlin, by focusing on the aesthetic appreciation of buildings. Through clean, simplistic compositions, I am able to find my own place in these highly populated environments. By blurring the locations of each subject, I intend to focus on the way a place made me feel rather than its known surroundings. The series investigates the connection between isolation and creativity by looking at loneliness from living in a city.

Holly Braithwaite recently graduated with a BA (Hons) Photography degree from Leeds Arts University. Her practice explores the complex relationship between architecture and photography, having exhibited in other venues across Leeds such as The Brunswick, Studio 24 and LS6 Café.

Instagram: @holly_braithwaite

Jill Setterington - A Shot in the Dark

Dusk is the most transitional part of the day. It is when the city begins to come alive, as it reveals and transforms itself into a habitat for the night dwellers. This is the time I venture out with my camera, with the intention of capturing those who begin to appear as the city springs to life, who still appear isolated from the crowds of people. With the aim to capture subjects in moments of acute loneliness, I seek out individuals who are in this silent hiatus of thought, almost swaddled by the heaviness of the night.

Jill has exhibited and sold photographs at the Headingley Art Trail, the Cardigan Art Triangle, Horsforth Walk of Art and Headingley Festival of Ideas. She has also had solo exhibitions at HEART in Headingley and at Leeds Central Library, as well as having photographs published in the Guardian and the Observer.

Instagram @jillsett17

Marianne Van Loo - The other side of the glass

This series of photos was captured during a recent trip to Japan, where loneliness is becoming an ignorable issue, most prevalent in cities and in young people. As technology advances at an immeasurable speed, it becomes a vehicle for isolation. Viewing the world from behind a glass barrier is also a literal imitation of the glass of our phone screens which can provide a false connection to those who feel lonely.
This phenomenon is set to increase. “Young people today are immersed in a world where they can live entirely separated from others and it’s happening right before our eyes,” says psychiatrist Rika Kamaya, who traces the root of the problem to the development of smart phones and gaming consoles.

Although this series does highlight these issues, I also wanted to capture my own experience. In Olivia Laing's book (an inspiration for the exhibition) she states: Glass is a persistent symbol of loneliness, and for good reason. I wanted to convey the feeling of being trapped behind glass, but to also capture the sometimes romantic notion of being alone.

Marianne has a masters in photography from UCLAN. She is an advocate of self-publishing and co-authored a photography book whilst living in Delhi and has published three newspaper zines filled with photography. She has exhibited in group exhibitions in Rome (twice), France, London (twice) and recently had a solo exhibition in Blackpool.

Instagram: @loomariannevan

Michael Gill - The Lone Age

Loneliness, especially for those of that live in large towns or cities, is something that is prevalent at all stages in our lives:

At a young age we experience a form of urban loneliness, through distractions in technologies. When I was younger it was toys, now we have digital distractions. We are living in our own imagined worlds, naive to our surroundings.
As we get older, we experience it through the feeling of being overwhelmed by the choices set before us. We live in a time where there is so much on offer, but you must choose something to follow.

Older still, we are fully in the hustle and bustle of working life. A part of life where it is very easy to feel isolated and separated from the group. As we go about our separate lives, we still long to feel connected to others, but feel sometimes this is not possible.

Instagram: ohlookitsmikey_

Oliver Campbell - Solitude

The photographs I have entered all derive from a literal interpretation of the theme ‘Urban Loneliness’. The images, minimal in concept and composition, directly focus on a single individual that takes the stage within the frame. Each images hold a certain moment of tension and ambiguity as we, as the viewer, consider the subjects’ next move. Despite the visual differences between the photographs, the feeling of loneliness binds them together contextually, as each figure awaits their next move, overwhelmed by the dominant environment around them.

Oliver is a Leeds-based photographer, specialising in street, fashion and music photography.

Instagram: @olvr.jc

Paul Maven - Empty/Full

My project ‘Empty/Full’ is an ongoing project that attempts to examine the physical landscapes within our urban environments that are occupied by transient groups such as shoppers, commuters, workers and tourists. The images draw on the notions of isolation, emptiness and loneliness in the context of commerce, housing, employment and leisure.  As hives of activity are rendered almost lifeless, the viewer is encouraged to examine the apparent contradictions within the work when examined within the framework of the isolationist rhetoric and divisive language that permeates current debates and dialogue.

Paul has been involved with photography in some shape or form for all of his working life, either as an arts practitioner, self employed freelancer, teacher or technician. He obtained my Masters Degree in my hometown of Sunderland, before moving to North Yorkshire where he ran a successful photography business. He currently works in the photography department at LAU.

Phil Jackson - Paul Loves Karaoke

I am photographer interested particularly in people.

My projects are centred around culture, habits and interaction. One of my ongoing themes, Encounters & Conversations, features random meetings with people who I usually do not know. But there is something that interests me about that person in that place at that time. Something which compels me to say hello and to start a conversation. If it's appropriate, I ask if I can photograph them as we talk. This results in either a series of images that records the meeting or simply a single image or portrait of that moment in time.

These encounters are frequently within urban or built up areas.

There is something that draws me to these people. Perhaps it is the sense of loneliness I pick up on that many people feel living in cities and towns. That unsettling feeling that, despite knowing that one is not alone in the physical world around them, there still exists a feeling of loneliness in the metaphysical sense.

One such encounter is entitled 'Paul Loves Karaoke’.

Paul is an artist who lives alone in a built-up area of the city of Bradford. He likes to sing publicly as it makes him feel alive and is also an important means of expression for him.

Paul spends a lot of time inside his thoughts, contemplating his art and other worldly matters. He seems happy enough and content in his world of contemplation.

One may see him from time to time, alone at this place or that. Or even maybe with a group of people at a local community centre. But, regardless of the circumstances, Paul always seems to display about him that same sense of remoteness and distant contemplation.

I met Paul as he was preparing to sing at a local pub in the centre of Bradford. We talked over a beer and then I accompanied him to the karaoke bar to see him perform his song, a number from the musical South Pacific.

Phil is a professional photographer working in documentary, portraiture and reportage. His clients range from local charities and the voluntary sector to press and organisations operating nationally. His work has been exhibited locally and published in press and print in partnership with a number of arts organisations.
Instagram: philjackson_avanti

Tremaine King- Partitioning

I have always been a keen teller of stories,this has evolved throughout my life turning from theatre to television to image-making. My work has roots in both body positivity as well as finding beauty in clashes of materials, locations and positions.This develops into both my fashion photography practice, as well as documentary. As a queer man in 2018, my stories and experiences are often tokenised by every aspect of the media around me, the supporting character but never the lead. I like to take images depicting my personal stories, with myself at the helm, producing self portraits of an abstract nature. Originally from the outskirts of Huddersfield I widely consider myself a country boy, yet moving to the big city of Manchester back in 2013, I was catapulted into this realm of extreme excitement and extreme loneliness.

Working across abstract film, experimental documentary, fashion and photography, King focusses on portraying personal stories often from a narrative questioning masculinity with strong themes of intimacy within a wider realm of nature. Emphasis currently resides in producing work to contribute to a wider body of images after self publishing his first zine 'In Placid', sold in Magma Manchester, in 2016.

Graduating in 2017 he achieved a BA First Class Honours in Fashion Image & Styling from the University of Salford. From this he moved to China for a year to teach Fashion Communication at SINO-UK, Zhejiang Fashion Institute of Technology, an internationally recognised art school. Subsequently he is looking to progress into more self directed films and producing a wider collection of images depicting elements of his life.

Tremaine is currently living in Manchester, United Kingdom, studying an MA in Contemporary Art at the University of Salford.

Instagram: @tremainekingg

Richard Fish- Experience

My current practice largely involves social documentary involving urban photography, street photography and changes within the social landscape. I enjoy observing the banal and the everyday alongside focusing on the absurd and extra ordinary.
As I shoot, I do not remain static, I travel with the continuous movement of the street so as not to disrupt the flow of people’s personal direction. I am attracted to the entirely unscripted nature of street photography and the way that stories and pictures can evolve straight in front of you.
I am an artist who succeeds with photography as a medium because of my love for putting a frame around reality and also my passion of the formal qualities of the photograph.
We all walk the same streets, have a shared experience but pass each other by. This lack of connection is documented in my photographs as the root of urban loneliness.

Richard has been working in the professional photography industry for over 10 years. Having assisted a celebrity photographer from a young age, he gained great technical knowledge which helped to develop his personal practice. He then studied a BA in photography at Northumbria University and has exhibited internationally as well as having his prints in private collections For the past 5 years, he has been shooting high end fashion editorials for online retailer End Clothing. He now currently teaches at Leeds Arts University where he is instructing on all lens based media courses.

Tony Bowen - 'Scratch’

My project ‘Scratch’ examines urban glass surfaces between London and Sussex. Over time, various narratives emerge on these surfaces as an echo of what each space has witnessed. Whilst usually residues of acts of vandalism, traces of what it is to be human can be found. These intentional markings are an imposition to the public eye; a longing to be seen and heard amongst the sea of people in order to escape the feeling of being alone and lost altogether.

He graduated in fine art in 1983. Since postgraduate study (education) in 1985, he has divided his time between personal practice and art and design education (teaching, course design and curriculum leadership) chiefly in the post-compulsory sector. Working mainly with painting, printmaking and drawing through the eighties and nineties, a developing interest in making photographs gradually emerged: initially informing and supporting work with other media, and subsequently as outcomes in their own right. A preoccupation with found marks and their interpretation has spanned many years.

Tony Maj - Still life, again

I’m particularly interested in the title “The Lonely City” and the paradoxical consequences attached to communal living. It’s a place where, as artists, we can weave ourselves around and within the urban footprint and find voice to document the physical and social realities of society. These selected images represent a light-hearted perspective of city living, using theatrical expressions that conjoin invisible landscapes and urban architectural details focusing on the isolation caused by living in an urban environment.

Tony is based in Sheffield, working in photography, video, sound and sculpture. He has exhibited work across Sheffield in solo and group exhibitions. he has also had his film ‘Assembling Shoes’ selected and shown at Leeds film festival in partnership with Leeds Big Screen.

My practice is primarily concerned with ideas based around site and place. More specifically, altering and adapting space to generate new contexts that opens up unfamiliar connections and new narratives. My work represents the sensibility between life experience and a considered perspective.

Edie Kino -Missed Connections

I am an urban/suburban dwelling artist with autism, and utilise the flexibility that a camera phone can provide when navigating the urban landscape. Loneliness is a theme that seems to naturally arise in my practice without any pre-meditation, but becomes prevalent through my frequent subject matter. This includes (but is not limited to): the isolating spaces of early morning public transport, self portraiture and the documenting of other lost local characters. Using a camera phone allows me to feel less socially visible whilst creating these images, simultaneously providing a sense of anonymity to my subjects.

Reece Leung - Terasu (照らす)

The project Terasu (照らす), shot in 2015, is a situational/ constructed body of work in all areas of Tokyo city. All of the photos were spontaneous and shot whenever I stumbled upon them. This particular series of photos feature pedestrians illuminated by both natural and artificial light, shot with the intention to isolate the subject within the frame, highlighting a particular detachment from the busy surrounding world. Focusing on one particular person within a crowd is like finding a pocket of silence within the noise, and invites the viewer into a speculative narrative about the individual and how they relates to the environment in which I have captured them in.

Reece Leung is a graduate BA Hons photography student based in Leeds, England. He has been a freelance editorial photographer for almost 6 years and has had his work published in numerous European and American magazines. He has also had has work exhibited at various locations including Paris, Berlin and London as well as several spaces across Leeds.

Instagram: @ReeceLeung