Sam Taylor-Wood

BATD ON Oct 15, 2009 AT 1:30 pm

Sam Taylor-Wood

Sam Taylor-Wood

Born in 1967, native Londoner Sam Taylor-Wood has long been involved in the arts. She graduated from Goldsmiths College as a young adult. Before her successful career as a photographer, she worked at the Royal Opera House and managed the Camden Palace nightclub. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that her work began to appear in group exhibits. The 1994 work Killing Time contained her true breakthrough pieces. The use of a multi-screen system in this work became the basis for her future art. By 1996, she was using professional actors for video works including Travesty of a Mockery and Pent-Up.

Sam with Aaron Johnson from Nowhere Boy

Sam with Aaron Johnson from Nowhere Boy

Taylor-Wood has produced several high-profile projects as well. Elton John has starred in her work; she also filmed Robert Downey Jr. for a promotional video. Even Becks has been one of her stars, not that he had to work very hard: in 2002, the National Portrait Gallery commissioned her to make a video portrait of David Beckham sleeping. She is also a long-time collaborator with English musical duo Pet Shop Boys, having filmed their concerts and having been featured as a guest vocalist on their tracks.

Her personal life was plagued with catastrophe when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1997 and breast cancer in 2001. Her subsequent recoveries only strengthened the melancholic tone to her work; pieces from 2005 and 2006 seemed to focus keenly on both vulnerability and intimacy. Then, Taylor-Wood stormed the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 with her short film Love You More. It showed in the main competition for the Palme d’Or award and was also featured at the 2008 London Film Festival.

Taylor-Wood’s latest achievement is her direction in Nowhere Boy, the closing selection for the 2009 London Film Festival. This biopic traces the formative years of John Lennon’s life. Using her signature style, Taylor-Wood guides stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Aaron Johnson through the stages of young love, giving audiences evocative images throughout. As LFF artistic director Sandra Hebron explained, the film provides “a visual beauty which underscores its considerable emotional heart.”

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