Images from Layla Sailor, (Left) Props made by Rebecca Manley
To kick off our creative Manchester series for 2014 this week we went to visit Layla Sailor, a photographer and friend of Fred’s who had a really exciting and successful year in 2013, and is now looking forward to new projects in 2014. We found Layla in her office at Love Creative on High Street surrounding by giant ‘flumps’, made by Rebecca Manley, that she had been using in a photo-shoot for Ballet Candy – a manufacturer of neon ballet shoes based in Rossendale. Unusual props and distinctive styling are typical of Layla’s work, with her stable of characters including a ‘life-size’ Yeti called Milky.
We began by discussing our professional resolutions for the coming year, with Layla intending to only take on jobs that she feels passionate about, and can have enough creative control over. Layla’s photographic work is a mixture of freelance work taken on for independent companies or bands, and artistic projects that allow her to research and express her interests. She completed a photography degree in 2005, and since then has built a freelance photography practice, as well as teaching on the Fashion Branding and Photography course at the University of Central Lancashire. Last year Layla also won the See.Me ‘Art Takes Paris’ Grand Prize, which included exhibitions in both Paris and London, bringing her work to wider audience.
For the past two years Layla has undertaken an annual collaborative series of images with fabric designer Lisa Stannard, entitled Kokoshnik. Kokoshnik always has a Russian aesthetic theme, which is a lifelong interest of Layla’s, and last year led her to create a poster in support of Pussy Riot – the activist group known for brightly coloured balaclavas who were imprisoned for a protest in Moscow Cathedral. For these purely artistic endeavours Layla explained that she uses friends and family for models, as professional agencies prefer commercial jobs, which means that many of the faces in Layla’s pictures can be spotted again and again throughout Kokoshnik, and also in her other annual collaborative project; the Christmas Advent series.
Images by Layla Sailor from the Kokoshnik series
Layla explained that for next year’s Kokoshnik series she is going to be exploring women’s representation in religion and war, and is looking forward to pursuing research on this topic. She also spoke of her desire to – at some point – undertake a Masters Degree, which would allow her to fully and creatively pursue her interests. We can’t wait to see what Layla comes up with next, and got a sneak peak at some new images of the band I Am Your Autopliot, which Layla explained were based on dog grooming photos, where miniature breeds are sized up against hands – a great example of her inventive ideas.
Written by Lauren Velvick