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Larry's Story

Anyone who’s seen Larry Stumer’s distinct style of photography knows that his artwork is one of a kind. Following a brief conversation, it’s clear that Larry is too. He’s been through a lot, but art has been a guiding post for him – even as it’s swirled in and out of his life over the years. 

“My first experience of deep depression was in my early 20’s. Unable to cope with work and life in general, I felt that I had failed in so many ways. It was difficult to deal with, partly due to public perception in the 1980s. I endured two years of unemployment and various therapies which didn’t seem to really help.” 

When some semblance of confidence finally returned to Larry, he enrolled in a beginners black and white photographic course. Not even owning his own camera, Larry describes this time as ‘a big leap of faith’.  

“Photography was just one of those things I’d never considered before. I looked at images in magazines and tried to emulate various techniques in my artwork. My signature style of combining images has been there since my early development stage.”  

As Larry found his feet and resumed regular employment, his photographic pursuits were pushed to the background. 25 years elapsed before the black dog came for Larry once more – but there was a silver lining amongst the darkness. 

“I seemed to have a habit of pushing away the things I enjoyed most, so I decided to re-explore my artistic interests once more. By now, the world had progressed from film to digital, so another self-learning curve ensured. Finally, I have the time to develop and experiment with ideas and resume an enjoyable, creative medium.” 

 A digital print of a man in a gas mask
"Mutate - What We Need to Survive" by Larry Stumer on display at the 2021 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.

Even though it might appear so, Larry doesn’t travel to exotic locations to create his art. Instead, he constructs images from basic ideas and develop them further. 

“My work is often described as being dark and by one artist, ‘a beautiful dark’. While I’m happy to accept that, it’s just what I prefer doing and that is the most important thing. When reviewing my work in progress, it’s equally about how it feels as much as how it looks. I have difficulty separating the two.” 

While Larry’s lived without a depressive episode for some time now, he says the darkness threatens to descend regularly – but it no longer dominates his life. 

“Nowadays I can recognise what’s happening and redirect my thoughts and emotions. Seems that’s the way it’s always going to be - trying to keep away from the edge.”