The Photographer Using Trash to Create an Unlikely Ode to LA

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Washington© Lucy Sparks

Lucy Sparks' latest offering is a visual feast of colour and chaos, direct from the streets of Los Angeles

The phrase ‘weird and wonderful’ might be uttered too frequently, and oftentimes without due cause, but it has never been more apt than in the case of Lucy Sparks’ new series, Washington, which consists of abstract arrangements of anonymous objects in pleasingly vibrant colours. “The series forms a bit of an ode to Los Angeles,” explains the British photographer; “its light and many quirks and oddities, including the focus on beauty and lifestyle.” The city’s strange codes became the series' central focus; its name, Washington, is shared with that of the studio Sparks was renting on Washington Boulevard. Likewise, the photographs have a strange spontaneity about them, which is little surprise given how they came to fruition. “I spent much of my time wandering around the block finding things to shoot, from objects left on the street to magazines in the bodega. My collection grew day by day,” she says. Her decision to “loosen the approach” to image-making is executed to great effect.

Serendipity also came into play in the creative process, Sparks explains, mentioning the example of ruby red shattered glass on a powder blue background. “I’d been laying and projecting patterns onto other objects using stained glass,” she says. “I popped inside to get something and when I returned the glass had shattered. I teamed it with a holiday snap I’d taken in the desert, as they were both open on my desktop and seemed to work together.” When probed on her favourite image – no mean feat, one would assume – Sparks chooses the shot featuring a river of blond hair flowing over both a wooden background and a curious pink character, because “it’s the most successful in terms of what I was aiming for: haphazard, messy and playful”. It's an aim she has most positively fulfilled.

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