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24: Biography



Kaye Donachie, The Truth that Hangs, 2018, oil on linen, 40x30cm; Anya Paintsil, Me new do, 2022, acrylic, wool, synrthetic hair and plastic clips on hessian, 119x112cm.                              


Mining Biography to Tell Stories 

Cultural figures are endlessly fascinating, providing material that can be poured over, mythologised, reimagined and endlessly reinterpreted. But the urge to record the human experience, or remember what has happened, is not restricted to the famous. The self-portrait, whether in the form of a painting, diary, or collection of artefacts can be artistically valuable, may become historically important, and might just record the everyday things that are missed in other types of biographies.

In this issue of Garageland we are looking at all kinds of biography. That is, the way that the lives of real people, past and present, famous and infamous, modest and immodest, are recorded, visualised and fictionalised, in art, film, television, literature, music, and personal archives.

Of particular interest is the slippage between truth and fiction that is spun into so much work that involves biography. Sometimes this might be attributed to the blurriness of memory, sometimes to the necessary brevity of a word count or film script. But this slippage can also be a magic wand which when pointed at the echo of a life, re-weaves it to fuel the creative ideas of artist or storyteller. It is this that informs the work of so many artists in this issue, such as cover artist Kaye Donachie’s imagined portraits of unnamed women, Paul Becker’s use of Kate Bush as an avatar to discuss the very nature of creativity, and film director Marie Kreutzer’s purposeful bio-fiction of Elizabeth Empress of Austria in Corsage, which describes the wasted lives of so many women. 

From Marilyn Monroe to 20th century surrealists, Yves Saint Laurent to The Clash, Frida Kahlo to ORLAN, Kathy Acker to the women of Shakespeare, Emily Bronte to Ronnie O’Sullivan, Francis Bacon to June Havoc, Anna Atkins to Anya Paintsil – we have it covered!

Cathy Lomax and Jennifer Caroline Campbell

December 2022

Contents include: [Auto]Biographical dispatches from Frieze; Alex Michon's punk diary and thoughts on the Bronte biopic Emily; Wondering female surrealists by Katherine Tulloh; Matilda Moors examines the creative possibilities of the diary; Toby Upson on YSL's Pour Homme, Actor Olivia Negrean on writing for Shakespeare's women; Jennifer Caroline Campbell on artistic gossip; A portfolio of Kaye Donachie's paintings; Luke Burton describes the Ronnie O'Sullivan Paradox; David Bowie on film and in a short story by Mary Wild and Steve Lomax respectively; David Bradshaw on Bacon, Dyer and Love is the Devil; Cathy Lomax on Corsage; Lucy Bolton on Kristen Stewart and Jean Seberg; #marilyneveryday; A conversation between Paul Becker and Annabel Dover - two artits who have recently published books; Hugh Mendes' reworked Frida Kahlo portrait; Tim Barnes on the jewel-like surrealist works of Gertrude Abercrombie; Anya Paintsil's storytelling textile portraits; and a final word on film star biographies from Megan McGurk.







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