Award-winning humanitarian, singer/songwriter, filmmaker, fine arts photographer, New York Times bestselling author and founder of The White Feather Foundation, an organization that brings lifesaving natural resources to people in developing nations around the world – and who also happens to be the first-born son of the late Beatles’ legend John Lennon with his first wife, the late Cynthia Powell Lennon – takes ArtNowLA’s Da Vinci Questionnaire, plumbing his own psychological depths only to discover what makes him love work and life.
What historical art figure would you like to have lunch with and why? Legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams once said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” That very much speaks to my method with the photos I take. I often discover what I want to share with the world at the editing stage, when I’m adjusting the colour or cropping the image in a certain way. Adams also had a deep appreciation for the environment and often went on long walkabouts in nature, like I do. I’m sure we’d get on quite well if a time machine could make that lunch happen.
What did you purchase with the proceeds from your first sale? Probably drinks after the exhibition!
What words or phrases do you overuse? “Indeed.” “Sooner rather than later.” “No question about it.”
How do you know when a work is finished? When I feel that the image will spark an emotion or feeling, firstly from me, then from whomever is viewing it, whether that be joy, peace, humour or despair … depending on the subject.
When and where were you happiest? The happiest I’ve felt was when I was in Colombia with the Kogi Indigenous tribe in 2014. I was there on behalf of my charity, learning more about them and working to help save their native land. After a day up in the mountains in the back of a jeep, I came back down to the shore with members of the tribe at this sort of ‘hut’ hotel. Sunset was just arriving … There were no laptops, phones, nothing. We literally sat there in silence for about three hours watching the sun go down, looking at the stars with no technology, just seeing people’s faces smiling and happy, taking in the peacefulness of that.
What is your most treasured possession? A photograph of my Mother…
Where is your ideal escape destination? My favorite thing to do, when I feel the most free, is to just get on my motorcycle, or into a convertible car and drive without a destination, as such, to explore something new. Uncharted territory is the most exciting, because you never know what lies ahead.
What’s the worst survival job you’ve ever had? Likely working in a restaurant as a teenager.
What TV series from your youth best describes your approach to life? Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My shyness/anxiety/fear of certain things unknown…
What is your most treasured memory? Remembering my Mother smiling & laughing.
What makes you smile? Seeing my friends and family happy, and old photographs that bring back good memories from many moons ago.
What makes you cry? How humans are treating Mother Gaia—and each other.
What is your go-to drink when you toast to a sale? Single Barrel Jack Daniels and Coke.
After an all-nighter, what’s your breakfast of champions? More sleep…
Who inspires you? Incredible people like David Attenborough & Jane Goodall, for their gentle, effective approach to inspiring activism. For showing us, and reminding us time and time again, of the Beauty & Majesty of the World around us—and that we need to protect it and each other, in every way possible…
What’s your best quality? Empathy.
What’s your biggest flaw? Letting myself be overwhelmed by something that has no place in doing so.
What is your current state of mind? Hopeful.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? The work we’ve done through my charity, The White Feather Foundation. Since its inception in 2007, we’ve saved native lands from being taken from Indigenous groups; brought clean water to developing communities; provided girls with educational scholarships; furnished vital equipment and supplies for rural schools; brought mobile ambulances to remote villages; assisted with disaster relief and helped bring meaningful social justice films to light. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and look forward to expanding our capabilities in the future.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? Love.
Photos of Julian Lennon courtesy of Deborah Anderson.
Julian Lennon’s exhibition, Atmospheria, is at William Turner Gallery through April 1, 2023.