Annie Lennox: The singer, her iPhone and the universe

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Though she insists she's not a photographer, Annie Lennox has opened an exhibition of collages. It could be the start of an artistic new career

She's best known as the Eurythmics singer and co-songwriter of hits including, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "Thorn in My Side", but currently Annie Lennox's first ever visual art exhibition of photographic collages is being held in Salford in a very low-key exhibition.

Despite the fact she does not call herself a "photographer" but a "visual artist", Lennox has recently been busy snapping locations in Manchester and Salford on her mobile phone.

"I have always been a very visual person and a keen observer," says Lennox, who looks for beauty in strange places like "diamonds in mud". "I really got into photography four years ago. For me, pointing and clicking my phone is absolutely fine. People say that isn't the art of photography but I don't agree. You have to have a good eye and it's the result that matters. I've wanted to do this for ages. I also started writing songs because I had this burning activity in my heart and head to express myself. This is a baby step."

Her 19 prints in the show titled, Glorious Manford Salchester, (a play on Manchester and Salford), which runs until next week at the Lowry Hotel, Salford, pay homage to the North-west of England, combining snapshots of Old Victorian industrial buildings, urban wastelands, skylines, street graffiti and flowers. She constantly records things she finds herself intuitively drawn to in everyday life, particularly the past.

"I am fascinated by history and particularly the Victorian era," says Lennox. "Manchester and Salford was the hub of the whole industrial revolution during the British Empire."

Kaleidoscopic prints with repeated single images show roads that lead to nowhere, juxtaposed with a slither of yellow flowers and floating buildings in the sky that look like they are sinking into the sea.

Abstract photographic collages contrast pretty lace and open blue sky with barbed wire, foreboding walls and Manchester Cathedral. Glass-fronted office blocks reflect the sky on the windows, which she has collaged. While many are powerful works, including a Manchester street in the sky that looks like a meteorite about to crash into Earth, others look like she has been cutting and pasting from Google Images.

Only a few prints are uncomplicated, including a photograph of David Begbie's sculpture in the Lowry Hotel of a female figure reflected on the wall, which she has then multiplied.

"There is a severe lack of people in my pictures," says Lennox. "It's ironic as a lot of people take photos of me."

It was in March that Lennox had a brainwave to put on a serious visual art show. She was staying at the Lowry Hotel when the touring V&A Lennox retrospective show House of Annie Lennox stopped off at the Lowry Centre in Salford Quays. On the first floor of the hotel she came across the Comme Ca Art (CCA) gallery, where there was a photo exhibition of pop stars eating their favourite food in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

It was only a matter of time before her 19 Entertainment team, run by Simon Fuller, who also manages the Beckhams, contacted CCA dealers in Manchester to set up a meeting with Lennox and its owner Claire Turner to develop Lennox's idea together.

"She showed me images on a computer that she had taken with a phone," says Turner, who is now Lennox's art dealer. "Then Annie came up with the idea to turn them into photographic collages – playing with composition and visually contrasting imagery. You can read a lot more into them than first meets the eye," she says.

Lennox then toured Manchester and Salford in a van for the day – jumping out with her assistant and Turner – "I was on such a high it was brilliant" – to "point and click" her mobile phone when she felt powerfully drawn to something.

"I've got this bag of imagery like beads, and I just found the first image I was drawn to and then started to play with it. Then I introduced another image that would change the meaning of the first by clashing or harmonising with it," says Lennox. "It's the same as when I'm writing songs. I've always done it very intuitively, starting with one line. So there is a parallel between what I've been doing and songwriting."

While this small and local exhibition in Salford is "a thank you" to the people at the Lowry "who were so kind to me", the prints are on sale online on the CCA website until the end of 2013. Limited editions of 100 hand-signed prints cost from £200 (small), £300 (medium) to £400 (large).

The ones proving to be the most popular include two prints, which if you look closely, show Lennox's reflection in them. In Print 6, a collage of daisies and Manchester's worker bee symbols, you see the top of Lennox's head and arm with a mobile phone reflected in a glass window with 1804 etched on it. In Print 9, featuring brown buildings and graffiti art showing a man and a cow, her dark outline is barely visible as she takes the photo.

"For me, the world is incredibly symbolic and visual. Photography is about light and shadow, and I think the songs that I have written over the years have been about the light – the emotional joy and beauty in the world. But we also live in the shadow and darkness," says Lennox. "I want people to feel connected and transported by familiar things that might otherwise be unseen or overlooked. In my view, everything is contradictory, mysterious, inaccessible, insignificant, and yet thoroughly meaningful and profound at the same time."

Lennox is planning on another series of new photographic collages next year in Manchester. But in the meantime, she is taking time out to work out what she wants to do next creatively, in between her activist work in aid of HIV and women's rights. "I just got married in September [to South African charity chief Mitch Besser] so I'd like to spend some time being married," says Lennox. "I'm just going to see what happens. If photography turns into a career, I will welcome it because I'm loving it."

Glorious Manford Salchester, the Lowry Hotel (thelowryhotel.com) until 27 November. Prints are on sale at commecaart.com until the end of 2013

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone