Glass talks to artist Jamie Mcleod about Addicted to Excess and his creative relationship with Marc Almond

THE exhibition Marc Almond − Addicted to Excess on show at the moment fuses imagery, artefacts, photographs and paintings from the UK singer’s trailblazing career −  one of Britain’s most authentic and unique talents who is unafraid to venture into uncharted artistic and musical terrains with over 35 years as a performer and songwriter. Coincidentally Almond’s 60th birthday celebration in July this year also coincides with the 50th year anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

Marc Almond collageMoodboard collage. Image: Marc Almond

Addicted to Excess is at The Gallery, Liverpool and is curated by Duovision whose founders Martin Green and James Lawler are behind some of the most thought-provoking, queer, underground shows, championing talents such as Duggie Fields, Jarvis Cocker, Mark Wardel, Luciana Martinez, Andrew Logan, Mike Wyeld and Charlie Hunter, Michael James O’Brien, Sheila Rock and Jo Brocklehurst. The artists in this show range from the painters Mark Wardel, Matthew Stradling, Pierre et Gilles and Val Denham to the photographers, Jamie McLeod, Mike Owen, Scott Ewalt, Aaron Cobbett, Andrew Catlin and video artist Gerry McNee.

Marc Almond, Jamie McleodMarc Almond. Image: Jamie Mcleod

Glass speaks to one of the artists in the show, Jamie Mcleod and also has exclusive access to new and unseen collages by Almond which explore the theme of the show. Mcleod also gives us an unique insight into the musician’s imagination and “lurid visual dreamscape-style imagery”.

Marc AlmondMoodboard collage. Image: Marc Almond

Visual artist Mcleod has been working and collaborating with Almond for over 20 years, immediately after Mcleod left art school, and while he was working in Soho night-clubs as a bouncer. After showing Almond the portraits that he carried in his bomber jacket as postcards, Mcleod proposed to him the idea, “I want to see you transform before my eyes. I want to see the mortal turn into the immortal, show me your icon. I want to be part of the process, and capture moments in time, stolen for life. Then I want to bombard you with your own text, cut it up and destroy it to form a new lyric out of your old words and project it all back onto you while you act out your grand schemes.”Almond, naturally, said yes.

Marc Almond, Jamie McleodMarc Almond. Image: Jamie Mcleod

Since then Mcleod has gone on to create various exhibitions with Almond as his sole subject and incorporated him into other pieces of art, being his collaborator in a vast array of work from creating the more bizarre-pop-punk-graphics, to making backdrops for live shows, designing limited edition T-Shirts, CDs and merchandise and stage clothes. Together with artist and producer Gerry McNee, they have created various promo videos for Almond’s songs, as well as stage backdrops.

Marc Almond collageMoodboard collage. Image: Marc Almond

The curators for Addicted to Excess selected from McLeod’s body of work only one period of Almond’s career with the aim of creating a nine-image grid pattern that worked as an ensemble. They wanted a certain sequence and cinematic-like affect, to show off another side of Almond’s persona, than the other more commercial photographers perhaps can’t. Mcleod comments, my “images take a certain reference to abstract painting, jazz, Parisian Grande Guignol and to Picasso but also tretain a respect for classicism and still have a certain seduction.”

 

Marc Almond, Jamie McleodMarc Almond. Image: Jamie Mcleod

British poet and writer Jeremy Reed comments on Mcleod’s ongoing collaboration with Almond,“In many ways Jamie Mcleod is Marc Almond’s perfect photographer. Imaginative, dispensing with obvious visual props, willing to create daring backdrops and to interact with his subject’s obsessions, his gift is a rare one of empathy. In photographic terms the visual equivalent of the French writer Jean Genet. His fusion of gritty street reality with acute lyric sensitivity brings his subjects vitally alive in a way that no other photographer has done since Mick Rock.”

Marc Almond collageMoodboard collage. Image: Marc Almond

Mcleod provides some interesting insights into Almond’s own artwork included in Addicted to Excess, “What is striking in his Dadaesque montages and collages is that he creates imagery the same way he would create a song,” he says.

“Almond calls these images his ‘moodboards’ in which he cherry-picks elements of what is both sacred and divine from his unconsciousness and then crudely slicing and dicing them to create, almost religious-like shrines, but with orgiastic abandon. Exotic festivities in his own Dante’s Inferno, a wild cast of endangered animals and savage brutes, with fangs, diamond-studded collars, birds of paradise with axolotl eyes,” explains Mcleod.

Marc Almond, Jamie McleodMarc Almond. Image: Jamie Mcleod

“Cutting and pasting his personal icons and heroines from Scheherazade, to Nureyev to Eartha Kitt to Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, to serial killers. Almond slices them up to have “fragments of them eternally inside him, like a shard from a broken mirror that he keeps safe inside his mind forever. He takes, the old adage ‘we are what we love’ and ‘always kill the thing we love’, to another level. It’s all ripe for the twisting, like a Russian doll for the imagination, one comes out of the other, in an unbridled fashion with a never ending meaning. It reeks of intoxicating perfumes with plumage and pearls, opium, powders and paints,” Mcleod continues.

“Using his own face as the starting point to the central image, he then doctors the imagery the same way a surgeon does with a scalpel to literally change sex before our eyes, and then to metamorph himself into the stars he fetishises via a hall of mirrors, to arrive at the visual-opera he wants to create. He plasters onto his face, the unknown eyes and the identity of the silver screen goddess and the mythological beast, those other’s with identity unknown, who also work in illusions, looking like glamour but smelling of murder.”

The exhibition runs until the end of August.

by Caroline Simpson

Marc Almond − Addicted to Excess an exhibition celebrating life and art is on at The Gallery, 41 Stanhope St, Liverpool L8 5RE until August 27

The exhibition is open on Tues- Sun 12-4pm. Outside hours visits can also be arranged

In November this year, the French bookshop Timeless release Jamie Mcleod’s artbook on Marc Almond called I Created Me