I first met Ollie at a house party, the location for his newest zine release, 53. Along with Greg Hardy, Oliver Kirk is a creator of Shadow Axis, a regular zine showcasing the inner circle of Leicester in all its photographic glory.
Greg is also the graphic designer behind Grade 10, the music collective and label based in Leicester comprising of Grade 10, Prayer, Unslaved, Forever, Classic Coke, LooseWomen, 8Ball and Kollaps. Grade 10’s recent event for the Radar radio takeover features in the newest Zine release, while more photos can be found on the Grade 10 website.
In the months I've known Ollie, we've shared some memorable times featuring music, parties, watermelons, circus tents and one too many Linda McCartney sausages. In amongst this fun, a number of snaps were taken, serving as reminders of the mishaps from the night(s) before.
With Fashion Week behind us and the anticipated flood of show reviews and focus on the high-end I think it’s important to bring it back down a level to the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion scout and the magical feel to Fashion Week just as much as any fashion lover, but with powerhouses like Anna Wintour rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kanye West, someone has to get back to what is real and not based on ego.
Enter the realists...
Collier Schorr, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin and Larry Clark’s photos encapsulate all that is the youth of the 90s. With 2017 approaching fast and the fashion industry demanding fast fashion, we all need something pure in the art world. When you're in the Instagram generation where selfies are often staged to reflect who we want people to think we are, rather than what we actually are, Ollie provides images that encompass his life and his circle in its purest and most honest form.
Celebrating Leicester City winning the Premier League, raving in the basement under Stretton Road or stuffing our faces with barbeque burgers and sipping G&Ts – when we are not paying attention, Ollie will be snapping away. The results are something quite poetic.
From speaking to Ollie about his work, he includes no heirs and graces whatsoever. Since the first time he held a camera on a family vacation to Valencia back in 2014, he explains, he recently decided to stay on and do A-levels at college, choosing photography because he thought it would be a ‘doss’. Venturing into the city with his dad’s Nikon, taking photographs of architecture and people that stood out to him, has now become a habit.
"I don't know what it was, but I caught such a buzz from capturing an image that only I could see at that moment. And then flicking back through the shots after and seeing what you'd got was more satisfying than anything. Since then it’s all I do, wherever I go."
Never really thinking too much into choosing a subject matter, his work is just whatever is going on at the time and place. Whether that be his perspective when looking at buildings, or catching glimpses of emotion from people, "I feel like I just know the right time to take a picture."
"I look for shapes, lights, emotion and one-off moments – sometimes it doesn't work at all and sometimes the outcome is amazing, catching the 'in-the-moment' shot that I love the most."
Choosing a favourite piece of work is a stumping question for anyone creative, especially when your work relies heavily on encapsulating a blip in time. How can you compare one moment to another when the emotion a person brings to an image is subjective? There are photographs he has taken that he would consider his best but mean nothing to him at all; then there are photographs that aren't as good but remind him of the best times he has had so far. Freshly back from Outlook Festival in Croatia, his photos of some of the acts have gone viral with Goldie posting a portrait of himself (above) taken by Ollie on his Facebook page, which is pretty impressive for someone who hasn’t even hit his 21st birthday.
In terms of reference points and inspiration, he turns to different photographers for different reasons. In terms of style, he is a Diana Buraka fan; her use of photography as a vessel to showcase tattoos in the way she does is, in his eyes, ‘phenomenal’. Also, Ciesay and Soulz that form Places+Faces: "The photography is insane. The way they turned their photographs of the music scene on Tumblr to then selling merch, and now being a street-wear brand with high demand, is mad inspirational." This fits seeing as Ollie’s dress sense is sleek and streetwear-orientated.
To end on a forward-looking note, I thought it best to finish with his current project, Shadow Axis. Namely, where did it originate? and where is it going?
The idea of collaborating on a zine had come to Ollie and Greg a while ago. In pursuit of that goal, they spent many nights designing and putting together their first instalment, One for the Weak End. Shadow Axis was an idea that had been stewing in Greg's head for quite a while. Then the ball dropped that, instead of just doing a one-off collaborate zine, they should join forces and set up their own publishing company releasing zines every odd month or so. And so Shadow Axis was formed. And, after receiving brilliant feedback on the first three releases, Shadow Axis looks to be going in the right direction.
Check out the Shadow Axis website for more information and photography work: