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Steampunk snapper Gary Nicholls gets ready for Truman's Brewery with his Imaginarium Trilogy

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 February 2019 | UPDATED: 07:50 22 February 2019

First half of Gary's magic blend of scenes snapped in places like London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Warwick, Chatham, Doncaster, and Leammington... he's the tiny figure far left. Picture: Gary Nicholls

First half of Gary's magic blend of scenes snapped in places like London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Warwick, Chatham, Doncaster, and Leammington... he's the tiny figure far left. Picture: Gary Nicholls

Gary Nicholls

Steampunk photographer Gary Nicholls is exhibiting work from his 'Imaginarium' book at next month's Talented Art Fair being staged at the Old Truman Brewery.

Second half of his blend of scenes snapped in London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Warwick, Chatham, Doncaster, and Leammington. Picture: Gary NichollsSecond half of his blend of scenes snapped in London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Warwick, Chatham, Doncaster, and Leammington. Picture: Gary Nicholls

His self-published fine art book suitable for a coffee table near you tells the story of the battle to save a woman’s soul, with 150 images including some being exhibited on metal at the three-day fair in Brick Lane opening March 1.

Some images are recreations of locations from Wesley’s Chapel in Shoreditch to St Paul’s Cathedral, layered and knitted together by computer magic.

Gary’s work has attracted worldwide attention for his detailed conceptual photography.

Study of Wesley's Chapel and Mission in Shoreditch. Picture: Gary NichollsStudy of Wesley's Chapel and Mission in Shoreditch. Picture: Gary Nicholls

His Imaginarium Trilogy’s first volume is a story of fictional character Eva and her journey from ruin to salvation, saving the world from a powerful nemesis. It is told with a series of images inspired by Gary’s visit to Asylum Steampunk festival in Lincoln in 2012 where he found his cast and the idea for his characters.

“The images are completely formed in my mind before I pick up the camera,” the veteran photographer reveals. “If I can’t find the exact location, I build one in photoshop from different elements of the places I have photographed.”

Steampunks, if you didn’t know, are enthusiasts of future technology fused with a love of all things Victoriana, blending the world of tomorrow with the past, exerting their influence on Gary’s work.

Ornate ballroom in Newark that inspired Gary. Picture: Gary NichollsOrnate ballroom in Newark that inspired Gary. Picture: Gary Nicholls

Each image has taken between 100 and 350 hours to produce, with the street scene taking 600 hours, made up buildings in places like London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Warwick, Chatham, Doncaster, and Leammington.

Gary utilises a layering technique harking back to the old masters, with meticulous attention to shadows and light, influenced by artists such as Caravaggio.

“The key to my imagery is lighting,” Garry adds. “Caravaggio was a master at telling a story through light, with just a paintbrush. I studied his images to understand the different effects lighting can have to create mood and also watched period dramas to understand how to create a cinematographic look to the finished image.”

Self portrait... Gary through the looking glass peering down on Alice in Wonderland. Picture: Gary NichollsSelf portrait... Gary through the looking glass peering down on Alice in Wonderland. Picture: Gary Nicholls

He builds layers of detail from photographs on locations as diverse as London, Barcelona, New York, Poland, Portugal and Cambodia. The final image is printed on large metal sheets to enhance the depth and luminosity of his photography.

Gary is also planning a projection mapping of some of his iconic images onto the buildings in the surrounding areas of Brick Lane on larger-than-life scale, re-creating Victorian London.

The Talented Art Fair is at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane March 1-3. Eve’s Story, the first of Gary’s Imaginarium Trilogy, is self-published at £99 hardback. Gary is currently working on the second volume, due in the summer.

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