The photographer and artist speak on their new joint exhibition, which brings together two vastly different bodies of their work
Photographer Lee Baxter and artist David Hoyle have a lot in common: they’ve been friends for over 30 years, live in the same postcode and spent most of lockdown in each other’s ‘bubbles’. But the two bodies of their work showcased in a new joint exhibition in Manchester couldn’t be more different.
The last 18 months have been challenging ones for creatives, Lee Baxter and David Hoyle among them. The Mancunian pair had to find new ways to channel their ideas and produce work when galleries shut and performance spaces closed.
“All the work on show has been produced by David and I in the last year or so,” Baxter explains of their show. “We all had to stay local so I started photographing what can only be described as a secret garden near a scrap yard in Ancoats where I live.”
Hoyle, on the other hand, looked to the domestic for inspiration: “A lot of my painted collages feature stuff that usually ends in the bin like food packaging,” he says. “It’s a reminder that we are all consumers.”
Baxter’s delicate photography is inspired by nature and contains subtle if not hidden allegories. He created the works by using a studio flash outside, essentially recreating what he’d usually have in his studio in the wild.
Meanwhile Hoyle’s bright, bold paintings grab the viewer by the jugular and make their point by combining collage, drawing and painted statements such as: “CONTEMPLATING CAPITALISM & COVID 19: TOTALITARIANISM AND UNIVERSAL INCOME.”
“I’m not far off 60 years of age, I can hear the clock ticking, so the message is becoming fuller on. I don’t have time to beat about the bush” Hoyle says.
Baxter believes that the difference in his and Hoyle’s styles is “interesting as these works wouldn’t usually be hung together but it shows how differently David and I channelled our creativity in a very difficult period.”
“It’s an interesting contrast between nature, in Lee’s work, and human nature, in mine,” Hoyle adds, “A big theme in mine is the need of humans in power to dominate others for the sake of the economy.”
This contrast is made all the starker by the fact this exhibition hangs on two opposite whitewashed walls in an apartment in central Manchester.
Lee says the pair “thought about a proper gallery space, but I know some people, myself included actually, are still getting to grips with big crowds. So, when Rob Devlin offered us this apartment, we went for it because it made it a bit more intimate.”
30-minute viewing slots can be booked, and small groups of attendees will be able to meet Hoyle and Baxter to discuss the work. The idea is to make this exhibition an experience the artists and audience can share in, finding commonality in the aftermath of a period which has forced isolation upon many.
David Hoyle x Lee Baxter runs until 19 September 2021 and is organised by Friends of Dorothy. Free tickets can be booked here.