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KATE FRIEND AS CHOSEN BY...





KATE FRIEND


19th November – 23rd December 2021 Lyndsey Ingram 20 Bourdon Street London W1K 3PL T. +44 (0)20 7629 8849 E. info@lyndseyingram.com W. lyndseyingram.com


KATE FRIEND AS CHOSEN BY...


Foreword Lyn dsey In g ra m

I first saw Kate Friend’s photographs earlier this year and my response was immediate. I was drawn to their particular alchemy – the simplicity of a single, painterly flower set against a background of rich, unrelenting colour. The fact that each was a portrait was somehow immediately apparent. I am delighted that now, several months later, we are presenting this body of work, ‘As Chosen By…’, at the gallery. Friend has a rigorous approach to the making of this series – a single flower and vessel, chosen by the sitter and shot in natural light at their home, studio, or garden. Very often she meets her subject for the first time when she arrives to take the photograph. The coloured background for each image is selected by Friend and this is driven both by the aesthetic of the chosen flower as well as by a deeper intuitive sense of her sitter’s character. Although her methodology is concise and consistent, the variety of images is testament to the array of unique personalities she has included in the project. These are portraits without people and although there is no obvious human likeness, there is an undeniable humanity in each of Friend’s photographs. This is the magic of her work. ‘As Chosen By…’ is an ongoing series that began in 2019 and, like so many things, has been slowed by recent world events. It is also a seasonal pursuit and many photographs have to be postponed until the chosen flower is in bloom. The current exhibition roughly marks the halfway point of this project, which will eventually culminate in a larger show and a comprehensive book that will include the many behind the scenes images taken by Friend throughout her process. Some of these 8

On location at Margaret Howell’s home




reportage images are illustrated in this catalogue and give an often quirky and always insightful glimpse into how the final photographs are made. It has been a pleasure and privilege to watch this show come to life and to see these photographs for the first time, as these negatives have never before been developed and editioned as c-prints. I am very grateful to Kate for agreeing to show them with us and for all her efforts to get the printing and the formatting perfect. I would also like to thank Francesca Gavin for her considered and insightful essay, which does a marvellous job of putting this work into a larger context. And lastly, this show would not have been possible without our colleague and friend Sarah Macdonald, who initially brought Kate’s work to our attention. I am extremely grateful to her for this and for all the wonderful work she does for the gallery.

On location at Charlie McCormick’s home 11


Botanical Life Fran cesca G av i n

What defines human identity? Classical Western art history certainly placed strong emphasis on the human face as indicative of our personality. But a portrait can now be many things. It can look, instead, at the world around the subject and how they interact with it. Kate Friend’s Botanical Portraits do just that. The works in this series all follow a similar format: a single flower in some kind of vessel against a coloured background. Her work creates a portrait of the human psyche. Friend’s own creative background is unusual. She left school for Mongolia at the age of 18, then learnt Chinese and lived in China, where she began putting a photographic portfolio together. She assisted photographers during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, going on to assist photographers on fashion and advertising shoots in London and New York for a few years. She went out on her own, founding the (now defunct) publication MOTHER, and splitting her time between publishing, editing and shooting. “I had no idea I was going to move into still life,” she points out. But I became disenamoured with shooting people quite quickly.” On moving back to London after extended periods in Japan and Indonesia, her attention turned to England. “I was totally mystified by it. I still am.” Flowers became her way in. Shooting flowers was a way to return to film rather than digital photography and reconnect to the process of looking, as much as it was a way to discover what defined Britain culturally. Friend began approaching well known gardeners in the UK, and asking them to pick something. She would be left alone to study the plants. She realised the concept of an English garden and plants was impossible. “It became a way to think about colonialism and about the history of movement in 12

On location at Maggi Hambling’s studio




this country. All plants come from somewhere,” she explains. The head gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden pointed out that the only native indigenous plants were pre Ice Age weeds, mosses and lichen. Plants began to reveal more information beyond their formal beauty. As Chosen By is her second attempt at getting to grips with plants, but this time through individuals. The artist’s process is varied and adaptable. She is often unaware of what flower will be presented to her. Some people choose on the day. She regularly has a short window of time for the shoot. Often it’s raining. “It’s a one woman show. I set up in a window or a shed or wherever they will let me be,” she notes. Choosing a single flower, rather than a bunch or bouquet, was fundamental. The simplicity and focus echoes the process of taking the images. She began to sometimes shoot the incredible locations the flowers were set in, but essentially the portraits are images of a single flower without any human presence. “When you look at the flower and then you see the name beneath, that seems like enough. As soon as you put a face on it, it’s a completely different thing,” she concurs. The analogue nature of the camera used is also a vital element in the sensitivity of the results. “I use a Pentax 6x7 – an early model issued in the 1970s. A big black box with a wooden handle,” Friend explains. “It forces me to be very strict with myself because it’s 10 shots to a roll. I have to not just shoot for the sake of it – it has to be worth it.” The slowness of the process echoes the slowness when the viewer is presented with the final image. “Working with still life is a meditative thing to do. The process that I’m using is an attempt to get into a meditative headspace by restricting myself.” Friend’s subjects are varied but all are innovative, creative individuals. Musician and writer Penny Rimbaud from the band Crass, artist and performer Cosey Fanni Tutti, fashion designer Margaret Howell, architect John Pawson. Each of Friend’s subjects are immensely respected in their field and very different. Choosing her subjects is an intuitive process. “They have to have a relationship with plants,” she emphasises. “When I meet these people, I take away some information on life. Notes to live by.” She is unafraid to ask, reaching people by serendipity, luck and force of will. The conversation she has with each subject and the narrative of their time together is imbued in Friend’s process. Margaret Howell, for exOn location at Rochelle Canteen, London

ample, was very specific about the specific colour of dried hydrangeas. “Flowers are a way to open up a conversation. Suddenly, with Margaret, 15


we were talking about her family history, her children – all just through this dried flower. Flowers can be conferred with much meaning and symbolism and be really important to people,” the artist observes. The vessels people choose are as varied as the flowers. An old milk bottle. A pot in a dusty drawer. Victorian pharmaceutical bottles. Her subjects know that the choice says something about them. Part of what makes Friend’s results so engaging is her very special and specific use of colours. These range from a vibrant rusty orange as the background for a gentle strawberry plant at the studio of photographer and artist Juergen Teller, to a steel grey-blue against Penny Rimbaud’s snowdrop. Friend’s palette reflects not only her subjects but also her knowledge of the camera and film she is working with. The painterly results are emphasised by the large scale prints she creates. “I think I’ve become experienced in the flow of colour, colour balancing, colour matching. It’s all colour science. I don’t know how to describe these colours, but I do know that the final result will often have a certain look, as if it’s been applied with a paint.” The artist is conscious of her forebears in floral still life, notably Robert Mapplethorpe, Karl Blossfeldt, Charles Jones and Kazumasa Ogawa. In all these cases, the focus on aesthetics and emotion rather than botany is the connection to her work. There is also an influence of Asian art in Friend’s work: the zen-like choice of a single flower. Friend notes a relationship to Rikyū, a school of Ikebana flower arranging. “It’s a tradition of isolating stems. It’s Ikebana, but with less,” the artist explains. “When I’m working with the stem, sometimes it just clicks and the plant can really give you something special, almost like a portrait session with a person. People think that flowers are inanimate – they’re not looking at you. But when you’re shooting them, it really feels like they are.”

On location at Cosey Fanni Tutti’s home 16



Charlie McCormick, Dahlia, Dorset, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 18


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Amanda Harlech, Bishop’s Flower Shropshire, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 21


Juergen Teller, Strawberry Latimer Road, London, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT 22


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Margaret Howell, Hydrangea Suffolk, 2019 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 25


Duncan Grant, Hollyhock Charleston, 2019 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 26


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Alys Fowler, Welsh Poppy (Papaver cambricum) Birmingham, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT 29


Dan Pearson, Dianthus cruentus Somerset, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 30


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Dan Pearson, Dierama pulcherrimum Somerset, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 33


Penny Rimbaud, Snowdrop Essex, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 34


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Jeremy Lee, Hellebore Quo Vadis, London, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 37


Olivia Harrison, Himalayan Blue Poppy Friar Park, Henley-On-Thames, 2019 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT 38


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Margot Henderson, Sanguisorba Rochelle Canteen, London, 2021 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT 41


Cosey Fanni Tutti, Euphorbia Norfolk, 2019 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 42


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Maggi Hambling, Cactus Suffolk, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT 45


Molly Goddard, Peony East London, 2019 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 46


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Polly Nicholson, Iris ‘Benton Susan’ Wiltshire, 2021 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 49


Isabella Tree, Ragwort Knepp Estate, Sussex, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 50


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John Pawson, Garden Rose Cotswolds, 2020 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 53


Bethan Wood, Euphorbia sipolisii f. crestata East London, 2021 C-type colour print Signed verso Edition of 5, with 2 APs, 80 × 65 cm, £3,500 + VAT Edition of 3, with 1 AP, 153 × 122 cm, £9,500 + VAT 54


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Biography

Kate Friend was born in the UK. A solo trip at 18 to Mongolia set in motion a pattern of perpetual travel. She studied Chinese, then lived for a year in Beijing before returning to London to pursue a career in photography. Over the next decade Kate lived and worked in New York, Indonesia and Tokyo. During this time she published her own limited edition arts publication titled MOTHER. Originally sold in boutiques, galleries and independent art bookstores worldwide, such as Dover Street Market, Colette and the Tate, the printed volumes are now collectors’ items. This led to commissions and collaborations with Commes des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Maison Margiela. Kate’s recent work has focussed on still life. Her style is minimal and considered, with a unique use of colour. She is drawn to stories of identity and to human interpretations of land, sea and plants. Her work has been recognised by The New York Times, Wallpaper*, Elle Decoration, The Observer and The FT. Her two Botanical Portrait series were exhibited at the Garden Museum in 2018 and 2021. Kate shoots exclusively on film, both medium and large format. The final prints are fine art C-types, made using a unique museum-grade printing process, exposing light onto colour paper. The print is then developed and hand-washed using traditional photographic techniques. Kate currently lives in London with her partner and their son.

On location at Charleston 56



Published by Lyndsey Ingram 20 Bourdon Street London W1K 3PL T. +44 (0)20 7629 8849 E. info@lyndseyingram.com W. lyndseyingram.com

© 2021 Lyndsey Ingram Text © 2021 Francesca Gavin All images © 2021 Kate Friend All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Lyndsey Ingram. Designed by Lucy Harbut Printed by Dayfold