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[L’Ombre Invisible’s life in St James]

was an exhibition, film and associated events produced in collaboration with William Burrough’s biographer and friend Barry Miles.


Burroughs moved to London in the winter of 1959-60 in order to be near his boyfriend, Ian Sommerville.  He lived there, on-and-off, until 1974, at first in a series of hotels, and from 1967, in Duke St. St. James’s, in Mayfair. 

Whilst living in the city in his last incarnation as ‘L’ombre Invisible’ he used photography as tool: by taking pictures of view from his window he saw the rooftops anew each day. He took multiple photographs of friends and random people to assemble visual composites in his mind that he could use to create characters in his writing. He made photographic montages from pictures of his family, partners and friends, photographed them, then re-arranged them: each montage having a different emotional value according to the placement and dominance of the different elements. 

The pictures were not stuck down like traditional collages, they only existed in the photographs. He inadvertently broke the rules and created new methodologies in his pursuit of ways of freezing his emotional and creative responses to different stimuli and situations. 


Burroughs’ photographs were supported and contextualised by photographs that Miles took of him in the years 1972-4 and with ephemera from his personal archive.

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