Maria Hughes & Jamie Reid
Maria Hughes and Jamie Reid
Egg Space Gallery, 16-18 Newington
31st May - 18th June 2006
With the assistance of Headspace and Transvoyeur, husband and wife team,
Jamie Reid and Maria Hughes are exhibiting some photographic work at The
Egg Café in Newington Buildings, Newington St (off Renshaw St),
Liverpool (top floor, no disabled access unfortunately)
Jamie is a tall, broad man with long, bunched-back hair. He dresses like
a roadie, but exudes an air of confidence and strength. I asked him about
Maria, a petite blonde, and how they met. I wasn’t aware they were
married (fooled by the ‘right on’ use of her name). Jamie
told me when they first met, Maria was already working as a photographer
and she told him that he came to her in a dream. (I must remember that).
Do you have any spiritual influences, gurus,
living or dead who have influenced your work?
Probably more than anyone else , and of modern artists a German called .
Your artistic development: was it through
experience and travel or educational?
All sorts - I’ve painted, drawn, done visual projects ever since
I’ve exhibited paintings in Japan, New York, all over the world.
Many have been collaborations with different events, people. Probably
never in major galleries, just things we’ve done off our own back.
Modern technology with art: are you purist
It’s all snaps.
Regarding digital art, Jamie says:
Particularly with modern architecture, you can tell the architecture is
just from the computer, not from the spirit.
Are there any images you desperately have
a desire to capture?
No. Faraway places, maybe Mars or the outer cosmos would be interesting.
What is your opinion of galleries sprung up
all over the city and tiers of professionalism –art museum /art
shop/ art temporary space in cafés, restaurants etc. (such as THE
My experience as an artist in Liverpool has been more underground. I find
it ironic personally: loads of places where I’ve shown my stuff
don’t exist anymore - they’ve closed now, like Quiggins, Jump
Ship Rat, and The Irish Centre. They’ve been places not rigged with
the stigma of galleries and museums.
So many people involved with culture, so many people making decisions
in Liverpool are from outside.
Everyone is interested in who gets money from
where in this city. I’ll boldly ask: have you had any funding and
if so from where?
Have you made any money from your art?
I did an exhibition at Microzine Gallery in Liverpool a few months back,
it’s the first time I’ve ever sold anything, in Liverpool.
So you’re in it for the pure love of
Pretty much so. A lot of the things I’ve done have been very eclectic
– community based. The established places in Liverpool never opened
their doors for me so I’ve travelled. I’ve probably done more
work in Ireland than anywhere else.
Any future ambitions to fulfil: travel, projects,
personal or business relationships?
I’d like to organise a big retrospective exhibition and tour it
around the world, but not to major cities. I’d like to take it to
parts of Africa, India, and Japan - places I feel an affinity with.
Have we in Liverpool, in your opinion, got
a long stretch ahead before we match other cities in the world famed for
art, in spite of the forthcoming stage of European City of Culture in
I hate this whole aspect of culture! Like everything else art is turned
into a competition.
You are heavily connected with visual arts
just by being part of this independent field do you think Liverpool deserves
the accolade ECoC?
I think everywhere and anywhere does, but it should come from below, not
above. It shouldn’t be imposed; so much of the whole ethos behind
cities of culture is a homogenised idea of what culture should be - to
create an outward appearance, which is often very conservative.
Considering the forthcoming biennial is this
September do you think Mike Noon from the Arts Council, Liverpool and
John Brady - Creative Facilitator of Liverpool Biennial Independents,
are doing a good job for the creative independents in the city?
As I say it’s got to start from below. You know - the whole education
system. Arts and music are almost out the syllabus now.
Will this year’s biennial capture general
public attention as much as the controversial nude photographs Yoko Ono
provided almost 2 years ago at the last biennial in your opinion?
It depends on what happens but I found the whole Yoko Ono thing an absolute
high. I mean, it just left me completely numb really, one way or the other;
it was just something the press latched on to.
Is there anything you’d like to tell
NERVE about your future projects, your hopes for independent art in the
We’ve been at war for the past two years and that doesn’t
seem to come into the reckoning. Art, music, culture - creativity should
be at the forefront of education: I mean a fundamental change in the education
system. We’ve become a creatively repressed country: everything
is so imposed. We have got to get rid of the whole ethos of politics of
fear. There’s a lot to be done.
I find the images you have provided at this
exhibition are very calendar-like, in some manner – you work with
the seasons with this theme.
Very much so.
Do you concentrate purely on nature . . .
or do you have other avenues, form, for example - do you do portraiture?
No, it tends to be just trying to reiterate the beauty that surrounds
us. We are meant to be custodians of this planet and we’ve just
done our level best to fuck the whole place up.
I viewed the photographic art in the non-smoking part of the café
- Mating snails on a fence-post not worried about the barbed-wire fence.
One of my favourite images as it looks like a giant bulrush, and I’ve
never seen a snail orgy. Have you?
- A sunflower, careful, the petals from noon till three are blown backward.
Is it siesta time?
- Cherry blossom in a cemetery. Veins of dark branches weave a contrast.
Peace and torture.
- A Christmas card of urban terraced-houses in the snow. The bird in
flight seems to be wingless. This is a realistic winter image for me (no
country house in the Lake District with some barren trees and snowdrift).
- The plot wheel: a large rainbow-striped wheel rests against a scruffy
shed. Again, a winter scene, but I have no idea of its significance. It
is, however, a busy image with lots to ponder over.
- Winter sky shows white clouds in a blue sky. I can’t decide if
they are wispy or sharp.
- The last framed image in this room is an amber sunset in winter with
underlining spiky TV aerials.
A poster-style, upside-down pyramid governs a wall, continuing the theme
of four seasons, I felt the unicorn was out of place. The top sky images
are dramatic and followed by a row of flowers and fruit, of the rest:
out-of-focus daisies and a picture of red Acer tree foliage.
The images are calendar-like.
I dislike the pyramid-poster style of display of the collage and black
plastic frames with inner white card look amateur and shoddy on other
walls. I don’t think the chronology of the four seasons was considered
in mapping this exhibition.
I caught up with Maria Hughes a few days later.
Is it sometimes difficult to show your own
creativity as a joint project?
No, not at all, our previous joint exhibition called “The 8th Fold
Year” had a celtic theme and was deemed a big success.
I like that you haven’t adopted Jamie’s
surname, do you assert your equality in other ways?
You know, we’ve been together for ten years and married for seven.
I couldn’t get used to signing another name. I’m not a feminist,
but if he needs sorting out I’ll sort him out! I agreed to marry,
as long as he never asked where I was going or what time I’d be
back. He never has. I once hopped on a train headed for Scotland instead
of paying the gas bill, it was great! He spends hours painting. We give
each other space and it works.
Do you enjoy travel?
Yes, we travel around the country a lot. We like to go for long walks
along the Liverpool coast, but it’s sad you can walk and walk with
no café along the way to stop and get a cup of tea.
Maria told me she loved New York and would love to go back there, but
not to live. She echoes my opinion that Liverpool and New York are similar,
save for their city grid-mapping.
This is great because you can’t get lost, unlike Liverpool. So
much has changed; so much of our history has been demolished: ‘I’ve
been taking photographs for over 30 years. I have a historic record of
pubs and clubs that are no longer here. Some of the places had cabaret
nights - clubs like the Wookey Hollow, where we saw Freddy Starr. All
of them were great, there’s nothing like that now.
Maria reflects on her childhood:
I remember sitting on the *oller, on an old couch somebody had thrown
out, when I was a kid – a few of us would build a fire. If there
was a football match we’d mind cars, but we’d get a bowl of
soapy water and wash the cars to get a bit of pocket money. The sorts
of things that amused me as a kid aren’t acceptable now. We never
did any harm to no-one. We played out, but only around the block. Kids
aren’t allowed that freedom now. If a teenager sprints up the road
people get frightened. It’s not right. Not all kids are bad.
I’d love everyone to have no telly, newspapers no communication
via computers or phones for a week; just talk to each other and have a
Maria made suggestions about re-opening the canal route all the way along
to Leeds well before it happened. She has many leisure activity ideas
for the dockland.
More money should be spent on the things the people of Liverpool need
and will enjoy long after 2008. Liverpool has begun to look like every
other major city in the UK, with the same big shops.
I asked Maria about her other photographic works.
I have photographs of a block of flats getting demolished. I never dreamed
anyone would consider my photographs as art, but one day I was showing
the pictures to a friend down the pub and this fella looked over my shoulder.
He had a suit on; he told me he had actually owned the block. He said
he’d like to have a copy.
I have given so many photographs away over the years – like that
one with the terraced houses, “The Interloper” - the one with
the bird. I take pictures like that, and give them away to my neighbours
and friends as Christmas cards. That one is my favourite at The Egg Café
exhibition. Most of my pictures are of the sky and are taken from my kitchen
window. They follow in sequence and have a panoramic quality.
The poster wall is just of damaged photographs that were just lying about
- we thought we’d fill the rest of the space. Most of the photographs
on display are mine, but “the snails” is one of Jamie’s
and a few others.
I’m looking forward to the biennial. (Maria says this in a true-Scouse
fashion: the Bee-n-arly)
I’m not giving away anything more in words, go and see the exhibition
for yourselves and have a cuppa.
I look forward to seeing more of Maria Hughes’ work, particularly
the photographs which are historic documents of Liverpool. It was great
to meet her.
(Best and warmest blesses, luv).
*oller = waste ground