“There was a strong female presence in my upbringing,” photographer, publisher and all-around-creative Rudi Edwards tells It’s Nice That. “I know that might seem obvious to say as a woman, but my mum is half Italian and super fiery — a real ‘her way or no way’ kind of woman.” Rudi decided to honour the fierce women that helped shape her feminist values and progressive outlook through her new magazine, Realest. The first issue, which launched last month, offers a refreshing take on the female experience and presents the reader with a number of relatable women from all walks of life.
Specifically, Realest seeks to honour women from northern England. Rudi is originally from a small village in North Yorkshire but has lived in London for the past four years since gaining a place at the Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins. “I grew up in the countryside with lots of fields, cows and sheep. To be completely honest, I found it quite boring when I lived there. It’s only now that I appreciate how beautiful it is,” she says. Fed up with what she considers to be a predominantly London-centric creative industry, Rudi set up Realest to refocus attention on England’s north, the local citizens and surrounding culture.
One of Realest’s most memorable photography series is a set of images of Yorkshire women in a salon getting their hair done. Shot by Rudi, the pictures offer an authentic insight into the local culture, ordinary women and their routines of beautification. “I was looking at aspects of Northern culture that are really ritualistic,” Rudi reflects. “Young or old, Northern women love going to the hairdressers. They go to have a natter, read a few magazines and have a brew. My Grandma gets her hair cut at Julie and Joanne’s Salon. There are a group of ladies, Joanne likes to call them her ‘Friday Girls’ that have gone every week for 30 years for a blow dry and set.” From big blow-dries to chats over cups of tea, Rudi captures the long-standing friendships that have been initiated and fostered in Yorkshire’s various salons through her intimate and affectionate photographs.
The shoot was, in part, a reaction to London’s art scene’s “in-crowd”. Rudi sought to remind her readers that there is a world of creativity, inspiration and motivation outside the capital. “The notion of being creative and liberal is a juxtaposition in itself. We are supposed to be super inclusive and free and welcome anything and everything from all walks of life, but at the same time, creativity is so much about being ‘cool’, you’re either in or out. The women in this shoot didn’t have a clue what Central Saint Martins was nor did they know anything about photography or fashion and it was refreshing!” The shoot was an opportunity for the young artist to discuss rising bus fares and hearing aids, topics that — although not traditionally considered ‘cool’ — deserve a platform in their own right. Cool is, Rudi says, turning the limelight on non-conventional sites of beauty and creativity and giving voice to those who find aesthetic joy in everyday life.
“It was important for me to show a variety of women, some old, some young, tall, short. Diversity is important to me. But it’s also important to show diversity in context. I hope the whole magazine achieves this. Realest is about age, race, class, but most importantly it’s about women.”
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