Paul McKendrick and Ewa Kawelec had never met until they were both featured in a Leeds exhibition. Amazingly they both had taken images from the same places but at different times of year. The photographs show that photography is not restricted by cultural background, gender or age.
“Two photographers based in Leeds West Yorkshire. Black and White street photography.”
Paul McKendrick and Ewa Kawelec were completely unaware of each other’s black and white photographs until April 2016 when they were both featured in the ‘Leeds Through The Lens’ exhibition.
Through a subsequent connection via Instagram they realised that they had taken exactly the same images of Leeds over the previous six months, sometimes standing in exactly the same place but at varying times of the year. They also both started their Instagram accounts in Aug 2015. The images in the project all date from Aug 2015 to April 2016.
Paul McKendrick has lived in Leeds since 1967.
Ewa Kawalec since 2013.
This project hopes to demonstrate that two people from different backgrounds can ‘see the same shot’ and that photography crosses age, gender and cultural boundaries. There are around 40 photographs but of course not all need to be featured. The pictures are all street photography and have a candid feel about them.
Although the images are about Leeds we feel that the concept of two artists un-knowingly taking exactly the same pictures and editing them in the same way is a fascinating subject involving aesthetics and mystery.
What attracted you to this specific project and how it is different from your other work?
We both are Instagram fans and are used to our followers seeing our work on phones/tablets. Although this particular joint project has been shown in two ‘physical’ exhibitions our black and white images are processed and edited for on-line viewing. Although all the pictures in the ‘real’ exhibitions were from our home town of Leeds, we feel that the concept will enthral and delight people from anywhere in the world.
What is your favourite and least favourite aspect of this project?
Ewa and I are in agreement with our favourite aspect; when we discovered we had been taking exactly the same photographs we were initially blown away by the fact that there were so many incidences and coincidences of the how we ‘see and capture’ in such a similar format. The reception to the exhibition has has been extraordinary with comments such as; ‘weird, crazy, beautiful, creepy, romantic, spooky’ and the most used, ‘wow!’ So our favourite aspect is the ‘Wow Factor’. Our least favourite aspect is usually to do with space. We have over 50 images that are exactly the same but space has constricted us to only showing about 10-12 photographs each. We have many shots of rural Yorkshire that are exactly the same too. (Harrogate, Middleham, Staithes, Scarborough etc). When I visited Warsaw in 2009 I took a shot that was exactly the same as Ewa’s when she was a college there in 2011!
How did you come up with the idea of Serendipitous Synchronicity?
The project wrote itself. It was obvious that not only did we find it fascinating that we had taken the same pictures but we believe that others would find the concept interesting too. Happenstance played a major part in our meeting so we feel fortunate that we met and that for a brief period we were in sync with each other.
What is the long term aim for this project and what did you want it to convey?
The project is relevant to a specific time frame – Aug 2015 to April 2016. We hope the project can be seen by as many people as possible all over the globe. We have the possibility of another ‘physical’ exhibition in May 2017 in Yorkshire.
We wanted the exhibition to convey the sheer incredulity of the situation; that two people were taking the same pictures without knowing each. We wanted to convey the sense of awe, surprise, delight, shock and fun through the work. There are underlying philosophical themes to the concept; we feel unique and yet someone has done exactly the same work. This validates our choices yet reduces our feeling of uniqueness. Paul and Ewa ‘see’ the same scene (light, features, perspective etc) so does this synchronicity spill over into other aspects of their lives; politics, religion, ethic, morals. Is it Chance or Fate that Paul and Ewa met when they did? Is there a reason why they met or is it pure randomness. We hope people can bring their own thoughts about the concept and make up their own minds.
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The challenge was to select the best examples of the similar photographs and restrict the show to 10 photographs each. This was difficult as their are over 50 similar pictures. We overcame this by choosing the similar works through compromise; sometimes one shot was ‘stronger’ than its counterpart so we had to think about the exhibition and not about our own personal favourite shots.
Do you have any plans for your next project?
Ewa and I have been approached by a Leeds Independent Guide to test the theory of our ‘like-mindedness’ by giving us challenges to photograph certain areas of the city within a time frame to see if we still ‘take/see the same shot’.
What is your connection to the north east?
Paul McKendrick has lived in York, Scarborough, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Newcastle and is a professional musician so has travelled and lived throughout the north east for 60 years.
Ewa moved from Poland with her husband and two children to Leeds in 2013.
What is it about the north east that attracts you?
The North East of the UK is unique. Landscape and vernacular architecture coupled with a rich and diverse history provide an outstanding backdrop to any artist. People are friendly, welcoming and knowledgable about the region and eager to share its past. People are generally optimistic about the future of the region even through the hardest economic times. As a foreigner, Ewa has been in awe of the north east and together with her husband Marcin have a dedicated Polish Facebook page giving information about what to see, where to go and how to get there. So enthusiastic about their new surroundings, they plan (with my help) to set up ‘Polish Radio Yorkshire’ to give further information about the region in Polish. (At first it will be a podcast but they hope to interview artists etc in future editions) Ewa is a volunteer with The Conservation Trust and is passionate about her new surroundings. For me personally, I have travelled the globe through my music and know that the north east of Britain can hold its head high in what it offers. It’s diverse culture is the epitome of how people can live and work together to enhance the experience of living in such a remarkable place.
Have you studied photography or art? If so where and when?
Neither of us has studied photography.
Where can people find you online
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/gone_solid_gone/
Website : https://www.instagram.com/ka_ewka_/