Photographic artist David Yarrow puts conservation to the catwalk with his new London exhibition, Changing Lanes
Contemporary photographic artist David Yarrow’s series of new photographs captured throughout the Covid-19 pandemic is a tribute to both the Wild West and the best of modern cinema, showcased in a powerful new exhibition titled Changing Lanes at London’s Maddox Gallery.
Launched on 19 November, Changing Lanes marks Yarrow’s shift in focus on the art of capturing the natural world to the power of visual storytelling, and includes images inspired by Hollywood hits including Wolf of Wall Street, American Beauty and Thelma & Louise – and featuring Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, and Ciara and Russell Wilson.
“Storytelling, whether behind the scenes or within the photograph itself, has always been a vital component to my work,” says the artist of the new collection. “There are so many photographs that I’ve taken in the last year that I don’t think I could have made a couple of years ago. I have always fought for my work with wildlife to offer a little more but, in many ways, my latest images have been even more of a challenge because the stakes are much higher. There are so many moving parts, multiple characters and so many talented people not to let down; it’s a style of photography that I’ve found to be so exciting.”
The renowned photographer’s talent for capturing animals – such as wolves, bears, elephants and big cats – up close and personal is present in his new exhibition, with wolves taking centre stage in iconic scenes from modern cinema and culture.
As part of the exhibition, Yarrow has also released an exclusive image captured in October 2021 in South Africa at the lion sanctuary of wildlife conservationist Kevin Richardson. Entitled Catwalk, the piece features an adult male lion called Vayetse surrounded by Zulu tribespeople.
“In building the story, my instincts were to play on the vibe of a Paris catwalk – after all, we had access not just to any cat to strut down our catwalk, but the King of Africa; a magnificent adult male lion,” Yarrow writes on his website.
Yarrow captured the magnificent image over three days. First, he photographed 100 Zulus in and around a temporary stand before getting the shot printed on a tennis court-sized canvas. The following morning, from the safety of a cage, Yarrow shot Vayetse the lion on the catwalk. Finally, he photographed the lead extras slightly further back from the lion’s position.
“This was an ambitious production effort demanding precision, speed of thought and experience. The end result is better than I could ever have asked for and I thank each and every member of a big cast and crew,” he writes. “They say that the best photographs can be looked at for a long time... this is surely the definitive catwalk.”
Yarrow hopes to use the captivating image to raise funds for The Kevin Richardson Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Richardson – known as ‘the lion whisperer’ – in 2018. The foundation is dedicated to tackling Africa’s declining lion population by purchasing habitat and raising awareness to create safe, natural spaces where lions and other native species can flourish. The foundation also aims to minimise human/wildlife conflict while improving living conditions in local villages.
“David has an exceptional talent for capturing one- of-a-kind and era-defining moments,” says Jay Rutland, creative director of Maddox Gallery. “His commitment to his craft has seen him endure frostbite in an effort to get the perfect shot, and his latest body of work is no different.
“David persisted throughout the pandemic, shooting within the Americas as much as feasibly possible to create a collection of images that are as visually arresting and storytelling as those shot when the world was entirely open. We’re excited to be hosting his latest show,Changing Lanes, and to hear the stories behind what is set to be another iconic collection of photographs.”
Changing Lanes is exhibited at Maddox Gallery, Westbourne Grove, London, until Wednesday 5 January 2022