The magic of Malka

Words by Kairen Kemp

My Instagram feed has been graced for some time with remarkable photographs taken by Malka Spigel-Newman. Her images are brightly coloured, vibrant and always striking.

I was warmly welcomed into the modern, light drenched home of Brighton photographer, video artist, musician and broadcaster Malka and her partner Colin Newman.

About forty year years ago, whilst in her band Minimal Control in Brussels Colin had told her how to technically take a photograph. She’d snapped a young boy who looked directly into the camera and when the pic was developed she found that she had captured something magical that the boy was projecting. She was smitten by her new art.

She discovered Lomography through a BBC4 documentary. Images captured by a small Russian built camera, the LCA, which most soviets owned, were exceptionally bright and like no other. It wasn’t just the camera however, but the film and its processing that created the ‘magic’. “I fell in love with the camera …. I even wrote a song for the camera ‘My LCA’. I’ve been taking photos ever since” Malka says. It’s a compulsion for her although the film is very difficult and expensive to find. It costs a great amount to develop the images therein.

She became part of the world wide Lomography movement – the first online community of people before the days of Meta etc platforms – who support each other and their work and gained many plaudits for her work.

Music was her first love however. Born in Poland moving to Israel at the age of three she found that it was difficult for women as they didn’t have the same opportunities. She moved to Amsterdam and founded a post punk band, Minimal Impact feeling the same compulsion about the music as her photography.  In Brussels she met Colin Newman the band’s new producer “I went to meet the band and Malka was at the top of the stairs and it was more or less love at first sight”. They’ve been together for nearly 40 years making their new music together, whether for their various bands or solo work, collaborating with other diverse artists and forming their own label Swim in 1993. As well as recording, they perform with these artists. The next Nanocluster event being at The Rose Hill, Brighton in September.

Their radio show Swimming In Sound on Slack City each Wednesday has just celebrated its 3rd birthday. Malka is an enthusiastic music collector – trawling near and far for new finds which she brings to Colin and together they construct an eclectic, fascinating playlist.

Nanocluster Friday 22nd September | 7:30pm | £12 advance tickets.         

Instagram @mayanewman

Steven Graham
Author: Steven Graham

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