On a dull morning in September, scrolling through the endless cacophony of words and images, I stumbled across ‘Look, No Hands’ and their showcase at Hype Park Book Club: a celebration of creativity coming out of Leeds Arts University. In establishing the platform, this collective is bolstering and showcasing some breath-taking talent. Amongst which is our first Bloom Session’s illustrator – Zoë Beckley.
Within the showcase, Zoë’s striking piece taunts its own title: un-noticed. Its dynamism, as well as its contrast between text and image is anything but unnoticeable. It draws in the eye, and the mind to reflect on “a glimpse of No-Where and No-Time; of creatures and beings lurking, watching. Waiting….”
This is part of a larger project, Paths to No Where, in which the pieces reflect on “gentle whisperings of times gone by.” These landscapes are portrayed in often otherworldly hues, combining sumptuous reds alongside colder shades of blue. They’re warm and inviting… that is until you read the poetry alongside. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still inviting, but there’s an inescapable solitude, a remoteness which permeates the art.
Speaking to Zoë, they say: “I’m primarily an illustrator and image-maker focusing on reportage and narrative in response to people and the natural world, with an aim to maintain an essence of experience, emotion and research throughout my practice – as someone who’s deaf and non binary, much of my work takes on the perspective/observations of a character on ‘the outside’.”
This could arguably be conveyed through the form of their poetry. It disregards all notion of ‘traditional structure’, there is no regularity or rule – it’s free and fluid. There is beauty in this, that which flies in the face of common, privileged currency. It opens up a new space for life to exist.
Zoë’s relationship with North Yorkshire stems mostly from inspiration. Born and raised down south, they moved to Leeds for university. However, it was the moors that inspired their dissertation. Speaking on the subject, they say: “my dissertation last year looked into sound art from my own deaf perspective with much of my practical work spent analysing the landscape and how the audio clips I’d recorded could be roughly ‘translated’ through ink and paper.”
And yet, not all of their work focuses on landscape and poetry. Zoë has produced some vibrant portraits of women in sport, for example the Lionesses, boxing and rugby. The reality captured in these reportage illustrations is mesmerising, the visceral strokes give a strong sense of not just movement, but sound and smell.
We’re delighted to feature Zoë Beckley as our first illustrator in October. They have a real appreciation for the beautiful landscape in and around Yorkshire, as do we. Zoë has kindly agreed to create an A4 print for us, which will be appearing on Bloom Sessions very shortly and we will be selling a limited run of these via our website. So, if you feel moved to, please purchase one and continue supporting our wonderful creatives.