On the 20th of October 1980 (a few days before her 21st Birthday) art student Mo Lea spends a night out with friends in Leed’s university student area. The air of a city under siege is clear to the local student population. A serial killer is on the loose and on the attack. In his fifth (and final) year, the Yorkshire Ripper's modus operandi has shifted from prostitutes to random young women and students in and around the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, in the heart of urban England. Even in this insidious atmosphere, Mo Lea takes the risk of taking a short dimly lit walk home. What follows is a life-threatening attack, a stoic and emotional recovery, yet one that causes reflection on what it means to be a survivor and how far you would have to go to recover from such a crime. A gifted artist, Mo Lea plays on her strengths art itself is the leitmotif that runs throughout this true-crime biography. The creative process begins with exhibitions of dark imagery, and portfolios full of macabre drawings and paintings. The artistic and emotional torture is conveyed in excruciating detail.
As the year’s progress, Mo Lea takes us on a journey through the United States, Leeds, Bedfordshire, and even a life-affirming meeting with a woman that changes the artist’s life, and sexuality, in one swift move. Like brush strokes on a blank canvas, Mo’s paints her prose well and delivers a harrowing yet engaging account. Although the book is a bit dry on the more titillating details of Sutcliffe’s crimes (maybe not one for all true crime fans) it is, however, an inspiring story of recovery, reinvention, and the ability to overcome. By the time the book concludes, those early macabre drawing of dark insidious creations are visually inspired seahorses, photography, and working with Victim Support charities.
Mo also delves deep into her emotionally fraught and tiresome dealings with the gross incompetence of West Yorkshire Police and their notorious mismanagement of the Yorkshire Ripper case.
For some, it would leave a sour taste but Mo’s story is one of positive recovery and enlightenment.
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Facing The Yorkshire Ripper - The Art Of Survival by Mo Lea was published on 6th of October 2020 by Pen & Sword Books
View Mo Lea's artwork here