Purple Art

[March 25 2014]

Alasdair McLellan’s first book “Ultimate Clothing Company” designed by M/M Paris is out now

Alasdair McLellan started his life as a photographer in 1986, aged 12. I have a copy of the first picture he ever took: a young boy looks out, wearing a green nylon parka edged in brown, synthetic fur—the kind always worn at school back then. Alasdair’s pictures have changed very little since then; his way of looking at the world is almost exactly the same, particularly his way of looking at the world through a camera. The boys might have grown up, but they are still the same boys on either side of the lens. In other ways, outside the photograph, their worlds have changed irrevocably. I met the photographer ten years later in 1996, when he first started taking pictures for magazines. Being from the North of England, we had both grown up on a constant diet of kitchen sink drama through films, literature and pop music as well as in our own lives—although this ‘Real Life’ was constantly seen through said filter of films, literature and pop music, so it wasn’t that real in our heads after all. In short, Alasdair had romantic notions about being English and Northern and wanted to show it. He was always able to do something visually that nobody else could. Alasdair always loved Bruce Weber—the romance, the feeling and playful sexual charge that would infuse each of his pictures. He also said, tellingly, that “Bruce Weber art directed a country. Nobody else has done that.” It became clear Alasdair wanted to do that too and he wanted to do that primarily through an idea of a certain type of English boy. The country this time would be the North of England, the landscapes around Doncaster and South Yorkshire that he grew up in. His other great hero of ‘art direction’ was Steven Patrick Morrissey. His unfaltering observation, both in his eye for The Smiths’ record sleeves and in his ear for The Smiths’ lyrics, is the thing that the photographer admired and took on board. Something lyrical, melancholy, mythological and unashamedly pop always characterises Alasdair’s pictures: doggedly democratic, they are always destined for mass consumption. Alasdair McLellan’s “Ultimate Clothing Company” is now available through M/M Paris and at Ideabooks London. Text Jo-Ann Furniss and photo Michael Amzalag

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