A Tragic Romance -Paul Adshead’s Photographic Histories

We have art in order not to die of the truth, Friedrich Nietzsche


Powerful pictures and films are songs, if beautiful or clever they will leave an imprint on you, both posing and answering those types of questions found only in the heart.

Paul Adshead writes such songs as a pictorial story teller, his medium –photographs and short films.

As many artists know in their hearts, good work speaks for itself, one should not have to make great efforts to explain its meaning.


For me, the moment before or after an event can be just as beautiful and revealing about the human condition as the main event…Paul Adshead

And so we find that the artist is hesitant about revealing the details or ideas behind the pictures, preferring they remain untitled and not over analyzed. Nevertheless in many of the pieces, we see the archetypal narrative… the hero, the mythological and folk tales, told of loss, heroism and conflict. This grandiose beauty makes his work appealing, allowing the viewer to enter, to imagine and wonder. An evocative silence…



Paul was born in Manchester and today divides his time between the busy streets of Manchester and the hills of North Yorkshire. Like many creative people, the contrast between these two environments allows for a certain creative energy. For some, the chaos of a city can quiet the mind, strangely. While for others, it is the countryside that moves the spirit.



RB: What kind of camera equipment do you like to use? 

I mostly shoot on Canon cameras but have used everything from wet plate to Phase One. I don’t get too caught up with the equipment. As long as the file sizes work for my large format prints I’m happy to use anything.

Same with lighting, I don’t let kit inhibit or define me. I have seen some amazing work produced with the worst equipment and have equally seen the worst work made with the best equipment…

RB: Are there particular stories you love, historic, poetic, literature, films?

I’ve always gravitated towards untold stories. Those subtle moments which people might not notice. For me the moment before or after an event can be just as beautiful and revealing about the human condition as the main event…


RB: I understand that this photo (above) of people behind the building is a collaboration with the band She Drew The Gun? Please tell me more about this project.

PA: I really love their dark music. It’s full of narrative and emotion so I knew our styles would work well together.When they contacted me to ask about working together for their new album I had just decided that I wanted to work on a new piece which had women as the main protagonists.

I wanted to make a dark narrative with female characters in a heroic role, this is something I think is majorly underrepresented. Handy as the band in question was made of mostly women so the timing of it all was perfect. What you can see in the piece is the band itself. I wanted them to look heroic fighting some dark force but what is happening exactly I will leave for people to interpret.

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RB: What’s next for you? 

PA: I am currently casting actors for a few top secret projects. I’m really excited with the people who are applying. So far the oldest is 78!



And do visit his beautiful 2015 film The Letter, you shall surely find the ache of a foggy history there….


Learn more about Paul’s artwork and special projects on his the artist’s website  + via instagram or twitter.

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