“Dream Easy” with Scotsman Jonny Lyons and his Homemade Rocket Launcher
Jonny Lyons’ distinctive style is, at its core, deeply Scottish. The young photographer treats his subjects—be they the stark landscapes near his Glasgow home or his childhood chums—with dark humor and a wry, mischievous wit. This month, he brings those sensibilities to Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh for “Dream Easy,” his first solo exhibition.
His large-scale black-and-white diptychs and triptychs are stark graphic works that function both as standalone images and records of Lyons’ antics. He and friends partook in staged actions that involved a bizarre and whimsical set of tools, which the artist designed and built himself. The oddball devices, which are also on display, have scale and construction that recall the stuff a kid might imagine: a homemade wooden rocket launcher; giant stilts mounted from a tree branch; smoke bombs strapped to a torso.
For each contraption, the corresponding images—most of them featuring Lyons’ lifelong friends—render the childlike seriousness in crisp black and white, often featuring delicate weather patterns and artful plumes of smoke.
The balance between such Lost Boy imagery and the relative severity of the developed images is an appropriate move for Lyons, whose primary interest seems to be the darker side of endless youth. However, these new images represent a narrowing of scope for the young photographer, who only three years ago graduated from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. “I’d always worked with images in street photography and film,” he recently told a journalist. “But in this work, I really liked that magic of not knowing what I’d captured on film. And that continues, that joy in not knowing.”
“Dream Easy” is on view at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Feb. 6–Mar. 26, 2016.