Meaning in Montage is an exploration and celebration of the medium of montage or the ‘composite image’ (an image with many parts). Montage as a technique, offers the exciting possibility to create new and infinite meanings through the careful selection, composition and subversion of images taken from the world around us. From Dada art’s vision of First World War Europe, to Soviet Film theory, from Pop Art’s lens on a playful new commercial age, to 1970s Punk art; montage not only has an established story in historic artistic practice, but an enduring and meaningful appeal among creatives today. With work from Arts Lab’s Young Artists Sharing the Light open call project for young artists (2020) and the Kids’ Great Sketchbook Project (2020), this exhibition explores montage and other forms of composite image such as photomontage, through the lens of contemporary creative talent. Viewing these works together we can consider why this technique continues to hold value and meaning for us today.
Taken from her zine, Quaren-dreams, Jaz’s montaged image was created in response to Arts Lab’s open call theme Dreams during lockdown in June 2020. Inspired by vivid ‘lockdown dreams’, this figure smiling amongst fresh flowers in a hazmat suit and purple gloves, is a combination which evokes a similar sense of strangeness, randomness and familiarity of images imagined by the mind when dreaming.
Sophia created this work as part of Arts Lab’s project We Need to Talk, a conversation on the importance of the BLM movement in 2020. In Researching the co-founder of UK Black Pride Lady Phyll she created this collage work ‘to try and represent a small part of such a powerful and committed woman.’ Combining text and image, change and power are suggested by gold paper images of the moon’s phases.
Sophia created this piece responding to Arts Lab’s open call theme Dreams in June 2020. Using simple collage, small illustrations and a typewriter, she evokes the softer quality and movement of dreams. Drifting thoughts in the form of words and images are conveyed through light pen and brush strokes and dusk like colours.
As a member of Kids’ Great Sketchbook project at Arts Lab, Ophelia made this Dreams-themed collage. Playing with proportion and layering a small illustrated bird contrasted against the giant cherries, we are invited into the fantastical world of a dream.
This work is from Garances’ zine titled Crystal Dreams. Created during lockdown, the combination of mixed media montage with watercolour, illustration, handwritten text and magazine clippings are used to convey memories and recurring dreams. Some of these stylistic elements recall those of a diary or scrapbook, revealing the personal yet universal nature of dreaming.
This illustration by Matt was produced during Arts Lab’s Summer Splash project. Over the month of August 2020, he developed a body of work exploring the subject of Change (to see more, go to our journal post Change). ‘I focused on the changing perception of good and evil and how each individual can embody both elements. As seen in Balinese masks, good and evil can be interchangeable.’ The closeness of these two states are conveyed clearly in the seamless interweaving of two strikingly contrasting characters. [Good and Evil is available to purchase in print version in our online shop.]
Anya’s reimagining of the traditional game snakes and ladders employs both photography and graphic design. She combines a foliage design in reference to Aubrey Beardsley, with her own photography to create a montage of multiple moments and stories. Contrasting these portraits with snake and ladder symbolism, she conveys the twists and turns in life’s changes.
This is another piece from Jaz’s zine, Quaren-dreams in response to our dream theme during lockdown in June 2020. Composed of magazine photography, paper clippings and illustration, she creates a world in which a lizard appears to seamlessly ‘switch’ scenes. Layering simple cut outs, the lizard and floating pairs of eyes, sit in contrast to a background of sea and woodlands.
This card was created by Panka toward the beginning of lockdown, in May 2020. On the front, designed as a Mother’s Day gift, she combines card, watercolour, ink and illustration. Dotted across its cover are small illustrated windows, with views made of a careful montage of images. They ‘are the things I wish for her: hugs from her grandchildren, seaside, sunshine.’
This is another piece created in response to the Lab’s open call theme, Dreams during lockdown. In this nightmarish scene, marker pen, acrylic paint, paper cuttings and text are layered and combined with bold colour to convey the panic in a bad dream. A pig head appears on a human torso and dizzying rings expand from the waist. Another pig peers out from behind scrawling black ink while a large yellow butterfly soars and the central figure appears trapped in the chaos.
This double page spread is taken from Bella’s Dream Zine, another response to our Dream theme. Composed of a mixed media montage, she layers feathers, matchsticks, paper, illustration, text and textile over a background print of pink floating feathers. Materials such as matchsticks and feathers add a 3D quality, to enhance parts of text and imagery recalling dreams.