Friday, 14 February 2014
|OVER THE HILL by Roberto Foddai|
‘Alright boys, this is it, over the hill’ is the intro of the song “Bring on Lucie” by John Lennon and, although the phrase ‘over the hill’ has somewhat negative connotations, it is announced on the record in a very positive way by Lennon who goes on to sing ‘Do it, do it, do it, do it now!’ and so, for me, the title of this exhibition is optimistic despite the double meaning.
In May 2007, I answered an advertisement in Time Out from Graeme Montgomery, whom I know now to be an extremely talented professional photographer. He was compiling a book of nudes and wanted to photograph the first 100 people to answer the advert so I thought ‘why not?’ and went along and found that I was number one! Strangely enough, two other photographers advertised in the following two issues of Time Out, this time for people to pose for portraits, and they both photographed me subsequently. That was that for a while until, in February 2008, I answered an advert in our local newspaper from a student, Daisy Lang, who wanted to photograph people with illnesses for her final year’s project. Subsequently, I discovered that there were many photographers advertising on the Internet for models for particular projects. I wrote an email to the first photographer explaining that I was 57 and had Parkinson’s Disease and that ‘I wanted to continue on my path of being photographed by different people during the course of my illness’. Suddenly, as I wrote those words, I realised that I had my own project.
Since then, over 270 different photographers have photographed me and it has been incredibly interesting and exciting as I have seen the project develop day by day. I have met many wonderful, skilful people many of whom, normally, I would never have met let alone spent several hours with them.
It has been a fascinating journey. I have always loved photography but never had the patience or skill to practice it successfully. However, being a model has enabled me to collaborate with brilliant practitioners of the art and to be part of the artistic photographic process.
I decided on "Over the Hill" as the title of the project in January 2009 but I had not discussed this with anyone until I met Roberto Foddai a few weeks later to talk about his ideas for our shoot. He produced two pieces of headgear he wanted me to wear and said that one of them had some wording on it which he felt was somewhat ironic. He turned it over and on the front were the words – ‘Over the Hill’.
This project is dedicated to my wife the artist, Jane Andrews, who has taught me about integrity, truth and wisdom through acts, words and deeds all of which are encompassed in her truly wonderful paintings www.janeandrews.co.uk
Free the people, now.
Do it, do it, do it, do it now.
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
|WAVES OF JOY by Genevieve Stevenson|
The sun was hot and it was a relief to be inside on the day of the Private View of "Over the Hill and Don't Look Back", the exhibition at Farley Farm Gallery which featured some of the photographs from my project and Jane's recent paintings. Most of the guests had left by the time Clare Park arrived with her vivacious friend, Genevieve followed shortly afterwards by my brother and my sister-in-law who had encountered traffic problems on the way. As with all of Clare's friends whom I meet, I got on with Genevieve straightaway. She is full of life, bubbly I think is the word with a mass of curly hair to match. I was told that she was a photographer and indeed she took some lovely photographs that day, photographs that I shall always treasure. After she and the others had looked round the show, we decided to go to the pub in Muddles Green where we had something to eat and drink. Genevieve and I sat next to each other and soon we were swapping favourite comedies - anyone who likes Woody Allen's "Sleeper" is ok by me.
"When I asked my mother where babies come from, she thought I said "rabies". She said you get them from being bitten by a dog. The next week, a woman on my block gave birth to triplets... I thought she'd been bitten by a great dane"
I think we also talked about her photographing me - at least the seed was sown and in subsequent email correspondence, I raised the possibility and she readily agreed.
Her initial idea was to photograph me in our bath at home with me lying in coloured water - I warned her that, if we did this, we would have to be certain that it would not stain the bath otherwise Jane, who loves me, would kill me. Whether it was that prospect or an accident which resulted in an intense colour emergency when some tea fell out of a cupboard at her flat causing two bottles of natural food dye to be spilled, that persuaded her to abandon the idea, I don't know. However, Plan B was a shoot at her flat in Wimbledon. Wimbledon - where I had slept out on the pavement from 1968 to 2012 in order to queue up for tickets for the tennis; where I had scene the great Lew Hoad play the first time I went on the Centre Court; where I saw Rod Laver win two years running; where I saw Manuel Santana as a veteran hit "that shot"on Court 5; where I stood with Jane and my friend Richard and watched the first Borg v McEnroe final. Anyway, I digress.
Eventually, I arrived at Wimbledon Station and Genevieve collected me outside in her trendy little car. She is also a painter and she had painted a large canvas various shades of green and yellow and black (I'm sure there were other colours in there but they were the obvious ones) and asked me to sit and then sprawl naked on it. We had a cup of tea and a snack after which I disrobed and laid on the canvas whilst she snapped away (with the camera). At one point, she asked me to close my eyes and she draped a painted piece of material across my shoulder and spent a long time sailing around me taking different shots. I felt so peaceful and I sunk back into the waves of canvas under my body and allowed Genevieve to slowly and gently invade my consciousness. When I opened my eyes, it felt like my brain had been massaged by a supernatural being without being touched. It felt like I was in space for a few minutes.
Then shortly afterwards, I received this photograph.
I am not going to say anything about it.
It speaks for itself.
Monday, 10 February 2014
|MAKING PLANS by Tom Petkus|
"I want you to be sad and miserable" said Tom as I met him, for the first time, at the Small Batch coffee shop in Hove. He had asked me to come along dressed in a suit and I decided to wear a black tie. It had been raining hard that morning and Tom wiped the seat of my chair dry and then asked me to stare into my empty coffee cup. I have to say that, although my condition is getting worse, it is very rare for me to be sad and miserable and I am very lucky in that respect.
I had made contact with Tom after finding his work on Flickr in April 2012 and sent him my usual email. He responded by asking me for a link to the photographs in my project which I sent to him by return. He replied saying that he would like to photograph me but I did not get back to him until almost a year later and, even then, I was slow to react to his emails and so it was not until January 2014 that we met at Small Batch. Tom has a deep Lithuanian accent (he is from Lithuania) and is about nine feet tall. He is serious about his work and about life but he has an infectious enthusiasm for Photography and underneath the rather austere exterior, he is a very warm human being. He surprised me because I couldn't really make out what he was like from his emails and, even when I met him, it took me a while to figure him out. I found him to be person full of emotion and love; a tall strong man with principles, but with a softness inside. An observer of humanity who does not always like what he sees but nevertheless understands it.
We shot quite a few images at the coffee shop and, whilst we were there, Tom's friend Agnes arrived to help out and what a very pleasant helper outer she was. We moved down into Palmeira Square and he took some photographs outside a mansion building and, at this point, Agnes posed with me or at least her arms did.
After a couple of hours, we slowly made our way to my house and I showed them around and also we had a look at some of my films after which they left. I sat and thought about the shoot and how deeply satisfying it was. Tom's love of photography was clear and both he and Agnes were very good companions for the day.
Soon I began to receive some pictures from Tom and I was very impressed. I knew they were exactly what he wanted. This was my favourite but the ones featuring Agnes were also excellent and I was tempted to choose one of those but I kept coming back to my original choice. It leaves the viewer to work out what is going on but there are intriguing clues - the bent head, the slightly detached gaze into a cup with the rings of dried coffee inside the rim and the great dollops of rain like tears are still visible on the table. They tell a story but Tom credits the viewer with enough intelligence to work it all out. A fine photograph.
"Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans"
- John Lennon
Wednesday, 5 February 2014
I heard this morning from Tiff Oben that Kim Fielding had died yesterday. I was so sad to hear this news. Kim was an amazing person - very irritating but easygoing, egotistical in the nicest way but very humble, inquisitive, interested, interesting, great fun, warm, human, flamboyant, loving, imaginative, brave, larger than life and unique.
I was on the Fourth Plinth in 2009 and through that, I made contact with Tiff Oben who put me in touch with Kim. Kim didn't know me from Adam but invited me to stay with him in Cardiff when I went there in 2011 to be photographed by Tiff. He photographed me too in his basement and was willing to try out all sorts of poses and ideas. I returned to Cardiff in 2013 and arranged to meet Kim in the Museum - he was almost an hour late and I couldn't get hold of him on his mobile. I was getting more and more pissed off but then he arrived with that silly, warm smile of his and suddenly everything was alright. We met the following evening for another shoot and again he was up for experimenting.
I shall leave others to talk of his running of the Tactile Bosch Arts Centre in Cardiff with its leaking roof because I didn't have much to do with that but, by all accounts, he was an innovative and inclusive curator.
All I shall say is that the artistic community of Cardiff has lost someone very special and I have lost a lovely, silly, talented friend. Goodbye Kim.
Friday, 24 January 2014
Liz first photographed me in December 2009 (see previous post) and we have had several more shoots since. She mentioned to me recently that there had been a resurgence of interest in her photographs of me in that they have been featured in "The Story Behind the Photo" section of The Photographer's Gallery website. They are also going to appear soon in the online magazine TRIP.
Liz is an amazingly energetic photographer and is so willing to experiment. She is a very engaging person and, as soon as I started working with her, we clicked. The feature does not in fact tell the whole story behind the photo in that, when we did the "Box" photos in her garden, there was an old couple gardening next door. As we finished the shoot and I emerged form the cardboard box stark naked, they said hello to us both over the low fence dividing the two gardens without batting an eyelid. But then later, Liz and I and her assistant went to a local Victorian cemetery where the above photograph was taken. Liz wanted to find a suitable gravestone next to which she intended to place the box and photograph me again. The cemetery was beautiful - it was full of birds singing away in the summer sun which was peaking through the lush green leaves sprouting from the heavy solid dark branches of the trees which had grown from nothing over the last hundred years or so. There was hardly a soul to be seen as we strolled along the narrow pathways on either side of which were graves large and small, gothic and simple. All was peaceful both for us, the visitors, and for our deceased ancestors lying in their final resting places surrounded by the glorious woodland, the floor of which was covered by a crochet of ivy and bramble and dead twigs which snapped and crackled under our tentative footsteps.
We found a spot in a clearing and I undressed but, just as I climbed into my box, we heard a voice ring out "Oi! What are you doing? That's my parents' grave!" I was out of there in a flash and threw my clothes on whilst Liz started explaining to an old man, who seemed quite distressed, that it was an artistic project and I had Parkinson's disease and that no disrespect was intended. I began to shake for good measure and then I began to shake some more as three policewomen rode up on their pushbikes. As Liz repeated her explanation to these fine young officers of the law, a rather strange thing happened - out of the surrounding woodland there slowly appeared several single men holding carrier bags and knapsacks and they stood around us not saying a word, like silent witnesses. Meanwhile, the old man began to back off - in fact he seemed suddenly so amenable that I wondered if it really was his parents' grave and whether, in fact, he was merely challenging our mini invasion of his and his non-speaking friends' little home from home. The Police were fine and suggested we chose a different time on another occasion and they departed leaving these men to slowly melt back into the undergrowth.
We sat down on a bench and Liz said that we could start again in a while but I politely demurred saying that I was somewhat freaked out by the whole episode, which I was. So we left the woods to the various creatures which inhabited it and we haven't been back since.
These are some more of the wonderful photographs which you can see online. I am not at all surprised that there is renewed interest in Liz's work - it is very special.
Monday, 20 January 2014
I am an earthquake
My roots dance
Ballrooms of tectonic plates
Rivers of lava
My blood boils
Flowers of fire
The spring trembles through my skin
In an ongoing eruption of life
Explosions that pronounce my name
My commitment is intensity
My association is the change
I am allied to the space
See, my fianceé approaches
And when this horizon lifts me up
Like a whip of stars
I will dive to whip
And kiss the back of the land
Since I am a force of nature
And you didn't see me coming
I am an earthquake!
Saturday, 14 December 2013
|A VERY HANDSOME MAN by Michael Birt|
I should say at the outset that the title to this photograph is taken from the subject heading of the email from Michael to which his photograph was attached - I am not having the gall to call myself a very handsome man. I have no idea whether I am or not. But, but - this is a beautiful photograph. The tone and colours give it such depth and he has captured a look in my eyes which is not a complete smile nor is it completely engaged nor is it blank - it has everything. It seems to me to reach back in my life and to represent all the stories I recounted to Michael on the day of the shoot; stories of childhood, of music and comedy, of art and love, of pleasure and disaster.
It also says a great deal about how we communicated with each other. I had met Michael quite a few times before and I noticed that I always felt that we were friends and yet we hardly spoke and had no other history than these meetings which were often at photographic events. Now, having spent such a long time together on the shoot, I know why I should have felt this way. He is a human being with a love of life, of living, of people and of his chosen occupation. For these reasons, I do not feel that anyone else could have taken this portrait. Once, years ago, I said to a photographer that I supposed that with the advent of such super-duper cameras, anyone could take a good photograph now but he replied saying that that was not the case and I think it is true. Really good photographers have to love what they do and know how to do it. They have an innate skill and an imagination. They have to love all that they do and Michael is just such a man.
When I received this photograph, I leaned forward to the computer in anticipation and then looked at it and leaned back in my chair with a purr of pure pleasure. It is a glorious portrait. I felt that it was so good that really I should bring my project to an end now so that this is the last one. I'm not going to do that because I am just too bloody greedy - I want MORE.
I cannot think of anything else to say except feast yourselves on some great photography by Michael Birt, a very special man.
Monday, 2 December 2013
|Arthur Wiggle and Maurice Woggle|
These are "The Wiggle Woggles" who appear in my short film of the same name which you can find on You Tube. This has nothing to do with my photographic project, "Over the Hill" as such except that, if it wasn't for Parkinson's Disease, I would never have started the project in the first place and may never have had the time to start making my own silly films such as this classic.
The film started off as so many of mine do with the purchase of a record at our local Oxfam charity shop (one of the best in Brighton). This record was a 78rpm recording of a Xylophone tune. I was at a loose end one day and so, inspired by the tune, I raided my dressing up box (doesn't everyone have one?) and put on these clothes and within about an hour, The Wiggle Woggles were born.
This film is one of Jane's favourites and it is now enjoying its first public performance at "!MAGICK! House", an artist's open house at 43, Orange Row, Brighton BN1 1UG (at the back of Gardner Street) as part of Brighton's Christmas Open Houses. It is being shown along with lots of other very interesting exhibits including a brilliant new painting by Jane "2 Steps Back" which can now be viewed on her website. The house is open for viewing from 11am to 4.30pm on weekends only from now until 15th December (incidentally, our 34th wedding anniversary).
Wiggle Woggle cards can be purchased for £1 each at the Open House and a DVD containing two films can be ordered for the cost of £5 each by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org - all profits will go to Parkinson's UK.
Friday, 1 November 2013
|THE WONDER OF YOU by Sophie Gerrard|
Sophie came to me through Twitter. You know the score - you search for photographers and twitter throws up people whom they think you might want to contact. And so it was with Sophie. I looked at her website and thought her work was exceptional. In particular, I liked the beautiful photograph of the lush green field in Mastichak, Bihar, India. It has a marvellous depth of colour and there is a tiny dot on the horizon - is that a person standing there looking back at Sophie? Could she do a similar shot where I become the dot on the landscape? It is such a romantic picture in the broadest sense.
So, I had no hesitation in writing the usual email to Sophie who told me subsequently that it arrived at a very opportune moment in her life. Anyway, although she spends some of her time in Edinburgh and I like Edinburgh, we decided to meet up in London where she spends the rest of her time. We met at Hampstead Heath Station and had a cup of tea before strolling onto the heath. The light was fading which was exactly what she wanted and she took various shots in different areas some topless and the rest full clothed.
What I found with Sophie was that she really involved me in what we were doing. She explains what she has in mind and how she wants it to look but not in a way that gets one flustered or nervous. It is all very easy. And, like all good photographers, she found out what made me tick and drew that out in the photographs.
It was some time later that I received about twenty images from the shoot by email. They were all good and, initially I chose the one below but eventually after going back to them a few times, I knew that it had to be the one above.
Again the depth of colour is so captivating - there is a darkness which perhaps foretells of the the darker days I am beginning to experience and which come inevitably as the illness takes a hold. But it is not a sad picture to me because it was a happy afternoon spent with a very nice person who knew what she wanted and got it. No nudity, no theatrics, no make up - just a very, very good portrait, beautifully composed and atmospheric.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
|TRACEY EMIN by Michael Birt|
So, I was on a number 28 bus from Brighton to Lewes and hoping that my tremor would calm down before I arrived at Michael's house for our shoot today. It didn't but, as soon as I saw Michael's smile as he answered the door, I knew that it was going to be alright - and so it was.
I don't often write about a shoot in advance of getting the photographs but now and again, I have such a nice day that I just want to tell everyone about it. Michael is handsome, slim and he owns a beautiful smile which seems to play on his lips and around his eyes continuously. He is a fan of The Beatles and - hang on, stop there, what is there not to like? He tells interesting and sometimes moving stories and is very generous when you tell him a story. He is a gentle man and a gentleman. He cares and that is what being a gentleman is all about.
It was a thoroughly satisfying shoot. This is a photograph of Tracey Emin he took and I have included it here because we talked about it and her - it seems that we are both fans. It is also a great picture - centred, intimate, challenging - like all his photographs. We talked about The Beatles, Southport, Ken Dodd, Clive James, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Thatcher, Danny Devito, Richard Griffiths, Grandchildren, Mike McCartney, Roger McGough, Marilyn Monroe, The Graduate, Blue Jasmine,
Charleston, Monk's House and Peanut M&Ms and a lot more besides.
After the shoot in his sitting room which benefits from a north facing light and a view of a lovely Biwa tree in his garden, he asked me to share some home made soup and salad with him, followed by a mug of tea and a biscuit. By then, I really felt that I had outstayed my welcome but the warm handshake and another flashing smile at the door said otherwise.
This is why I have enjoyed this project so much. It is full of nice people like Michael Birt who also happen to take very good photographs.
Thank you, Michael.
Sunday, 20 October 2013
|SPELLBOUND by Svetlana Masterova|
Svetlana is bonkers but bonkers in the most delightful and endearing way and notwithstanding her bonkerism, she is a very dedicated and talented photographic artist. I came across her work on the Women Erotic Artists (WEA) website. Yes, I know what you're thinking - what was I doing in the Lingerie Department of Marks & Spencer last Tuesday afternoon? Well, I was looking for a present for my plumber and lost my way if it's anyone else's business. No, seriously, Jo Wonder (who has also photographed me) was in email correspondence with me concerning the inclusion of my "Wiggle Woggles" film in an Open House she was organising and in her email there was a link to the WEA website so naturally I clicked on the link to look for photographers and found Svetlana's work and a link to her website. The work on her website was excellent and I could see in her portraits that she was really engaging with her subjects and that is what I love to do with a photographer and so I had no hesitation in writing to her asking if she would photograph me.
She agreed straightaway and said that she would like to come to Brighton to do the shoot and mentioned that she had only photographed a male nude once before and that, apart from that, it had always been women and that she felt men were more body conscious and therefore had little experience in this area but that if I was still interested we could choose a day and shoot something beautiful. She then looked at some of the other images in my project and admitted that she was now "officially nervous".
Anyway, she came down and she burst into my life like a mini tornado. She is such an emotional vibrant personality with a wonderfully droll sense of humour. It was such fun and, as we got to know and trust each other, we relaxed into the dizziest of dizzy shoots and the time flew by. I loved this image when I received it shortly after and told Svetlana that I loved it and that I loved her and, of course, did the honourable thing and asked her to marry me. Of course, she was completely overcome and admitted to crying on reading this but not hysterically. But, seriously, I love the picture because it completely sums up how we were motoring at that stage with complete abandon. It was a special day with a special person and it is documented in a special photograph, the specialness of which is almost too difficult to put into words, as you can see.
So, here we are "Spellbound" by the magical wizard of photography, Svetlana Masterova - Красивый, веселый, специальный человек.
Friday, 11 October 2013
Saturday, 5 October 2013
|HEADS AND TOES by Holly Oliver|
The word, "Lovely", is somewhat overused, especially by me, but sometimes when it is used to describe some experience, some person or some thing which (or who) is unique and special, it is the perfect adjective to choose and so it is in the case of this shoot, this photograph and this photographer. I don't use Twitter that much (I tweet about once a week on average, I guess) but when I do, I often put UK photographer into the search engine and, on one such occasion in August 2013, I came across Holly Oliver who was not only a photographer and a very good but also she was based in Brighton, now my home town.
So lucky (and lovely) Holly received my usual email which differs very little from the inaugural email sent out at the beginning of the project in 2008 (NB although the first photograph in the project was taken in 2007, I didn't realise it was a project until early 2008). She apologised for taking a whole day to reply (lazy) but thanked me (polite) and said that she would love to photograph me (lovely her and lucky me). Over the course of the next few weeks, we slowly formulated an idea for the shoot which ended up taking place on the Harbour Wall at Brighton Marina with Holly, in the main, using her polaroid camera. Holly was a bright and breezy email correspondent but even so, it was a very pleasant surprise to experience the brightness and breeziness at first hand when I met her for the shoot on 5th October 2013.
The main memory I have of our time together was that it was so easy. We met in the Red Roaster, a cool little coffee place in Kemptown and, after an initial chat, we caught the bus to the Marina and walked to the Sea Wall which that day was populated by a number of fishermen. The sea was quite calm and wore a beautiful silver blue sheen as it rose and swelled and pushed gently towards the beach stretching across to the Pier. The anglers seemed a happy bunch and, although they reminded me of the scene in ''Play it again, Sam'' when the exultant Woody Allen thumped a fisherman joyously on the back sending him headlong into the river below, I managed to resist letting my joyousness get the better of me and the worse of any of the anglers. It was a close run thing though.
Eventually, we found a suitable spot and, two packs of old polaroid film later, it was all over pretty quickly. We ambled back to the bus stop chatting all the while and then parted at the Old Steine. A few days later, I received these two sets as well as individual scans of each picture. They are not as "finished" as most of my photographs and, by their very nature, they were never likely to be. However, what they do is really conjure up the whole feel of the shoot. Individually, I like them all but, when I saw this montage with Holly's toes in the shot, I felt that this had to be the one for my project.
Holly brought round the original polaroids the other day and it was like being given a piece of glittering jewellery. Each print is a diamond. A precious unique item that I can touch and look at and put back and take out again. And every time I do so, I feel rich, as rich as a very rich man with a loving family, a good and happy life, loyal and devoted friends, laughter in my life, freedom, favourite books and LPs and singles, photographs, DVDs and amongst them all in a small cardboard box some treasure which was given to me that day that Holly took me to Brighton Marina.
Holly and Me
Friday, 4 October 2013
|BRIGHTON ANGEL by JoWonder|
So, Jane discovered the work of the amazingly quirky JoWonder, Artist, Performer, Filmmaker, Photographer and even Stand-up comedian and, what with one thing and another, Jo found herself living in a our basement for a couple of months, having decided to move out of London. Jane and Jo became friends and, as their friendship grew, I began to get to know her as well. She is like a little fairy who flitters about delivering little wandfuls of magic dust to people, sometimes whether they like it or not. Well, they usually end up liking it because she is such a unique bundle of fun. She looks like a pretty doll but has a cackling laugh which is beautifully infectious.
She is interested in so much and liked the sound of my project and either because of that or because she recognised something angelic in my make up or because of nothing, she suggested this photograph which I was more than happy to do even though I had not really seen much of her photography but had seen some of her movies which in turn are bizarre, witty, animated, fresh and intelligent.
So very early one morning, I walked down Montpelier Road with her and she photographed the empty street and then photographed me dodging the the odd car that roared through the 20 mph limit recently imposed in certain areas of Brighton.
And then she presented me with this fun diptych. The Brighton Angel by the one and only wonderful JoWonder!
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Sunday, 22 September 2013
|SMILE by Vici Watkins|
Yes, a very satisfying shoot and a marvellous photograph to boot. That rhymes doesn't it?
If you just smile.
.....and she brought a delicious carrot cake with her!
Friday, 6 September 2013
|The Opening of the Private View|
On 1st October 1977, I qualified as a solicitor, having undertaken my Articles of Clerkship (now known as a Training Contract) at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex. I applied to several firms for a job as an assistant solicitor including Burley & Geach who made me an offer which I did not refuse but they also told me that there were no prospects of Partnership. Four years later, I became a partner of the firm. I continued to work at the Haslemere office until 1985 when I moved to our new office in the nearby village of Grayshott where I remained until 2006 when I was forced to retire due to having Parkinson's Disease. On 6th September 2013, thirty six years after I had qualified, I returned to open a show at the Haslemere Educational Museum. The Private View was attended by many people I have known for some years including several former clients and my former senior partner as well as a number of other acquaintances from my days as a lawyer. It was very interesting, not only to return to my old stamping ground, but also to speculate who might come along. I was very touched that those who did attend spoke so movingly about the project and me and my health problems particularly Alan Perry whom I have known for over 35 years and who said some very kind things in his address. I really felt glad to come back and to mix together the two worlds I have inhabited i.e. the legal world and the post diagnosis world of modelling, filmmaking and writing.
The photographs on display show a brilliant cross-section of the marvellous array of the challenging and inventive work in the project. Some of the photographs have been exhibited before but a large proportion have not and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Haslemere not only to see my show but also the other wonderful exhibits on show elsewhere in this great little museum, the reputation of which has increased hugely over recent years. This has been due mainly to the hard work and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers as well as to the wise decision making by the trustees led by the ubiquitous Alan Perry who brought an energy and an intelligence to his dynamic chairmanship in recent times, and which has been continued by the present incumbent, Melanie O'Dell.
Some years ago, a short time after my diagnosis, I went to see a speech therapist as my speech was beginning to become slurred. One day, she asked me how I had been and I explained that recently I had joined a local film society but when I attended the first film in the programme a few nights before, I had bought a plastic glass of wine and, as I walked to my seat, I felt very conscious of friends watching me do so and possibly thinking ''there's poor Tim, shaking''. The therapist said to me that I had to get used to the fact that I wasn't the Tim I was before, I was Tim with Parkinson's. That helped me a lot. I am Tim with Parkinson's but, at the Private View, the old Tim was still there.... deep inside and it was he who introduced the new Tim to some old and valued friends.
A film I have made about the exhibition can be seen here. A longer version with me talking about each of the photographs on display can be seen HERE.
MUSEUM WEBSITE: http://www.haslemeremuseum.co.uk/
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
|HERE COMES THE SUN by Kevin Meredith|
It was the the summer of 1974 - for me the summer of love. I had a new girlfriend and she was with me on the day I went to Wembley Stadium for an open air concert featuring The Band, Joni Mitchell and Crosby Stills Nash & Young. It was a gloriously sunny day and, as we sat there waiting for the show to start, they played music over the loudspeakers. Everything felt wonderful; I was in love, it seemed like everyone around us was in love, the sun was shining. Then suddenly, we heard the opening bars of "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles over the sound system and for the next few minutes I was transported into a heavenly place and thought how much better can life be?
Looking back through my emails, I was surprised to see that I wrote to Kevin as long ago as March 2013 after I had seen him mentioned on Twitter and then looked up his great work on his website. My memory was that my first contact with him was being introduced when I was talking to Alma Haser (and James MacDonald) at a Mini Click event in Brighton. It doesn't really matter but when I met him, he came across immediately as a nice person - a bit bluff but with a little bit of softness exposed possibly in his eyes or the way he talked or the way he moved or all three. Anyway, in March 2013, he replied to my email saying that he would be pleased to photograph me and that he would propose creating a montage portrait an example of which he sent me. I was thrilled because I really liked his style and, when I first saw his work, I thought 'I want to be in a photograph taken by this guy'.
As it was, it took until August before we set up the shoot on a morning not unlike the one which heralded that magical day in 1974. Kevin picked me up at 7.15 am and we drove to Stanmer Park and then spent a god hour or so wandering around this beautiful place. We saw one woman walking a dog but otherwise there was no-one else there - certainly we didn't see anyone else. I was wearing a grey shirt and Kevin found a spot where we started the montage shots. He used quite a small film camera and, before each shot, he measured with a ruler the distance between the lens and the part of me he was photographing moving from my head down my body to my lower legs. Being photographed is quite an intimate experience but this was particularly so as it was so close and he was touching me. Then, as we moved about the park into the woods, he asked me to get undressed and we did some nude shots, some montage and some not. All the while, we chatted and gradually we relaxed into easy conversation. This is the bit I like best - getting to know the person with whom I am collaborating. Kevin is a sensitive person and very experimental in his outlook on the art of photography. He is interested in so many different types of photograph and methods of taking them and he wants to pass that enthusiasm on to his audience and his students. He doesn't gush but he is very into what he does.
I waited a few months for the results and then, in short rush of emails, he sent me the images. Oh, before that I saw one image of his of me lying naked on the ground on Instagram. It was beautiful. Anyway, the montage shots were all that I had hoped they would be - crisp, revealing, intimate. However, Kevin then sent through this shot and I was blown away by it. It is stunning. I do find it surprising how these shots are so meaningful to me at this time. Now, maybe Kevin had this in mind when he created the image but the branches going through my head seem to sum up how befuddled my brain is becoming with the progression of my illness and yet there is still a strong burning source of creativity shining through which for the moment is in the ascendancy. I was worried that I would have to tell Kevin that the original idea of the montage would not feature in the image I would choose for my project but he didn't seem phased by this at all and he readily (and generously) accepted my choice.
So, here we are - "Here Comes The Sun" by Kevin Meredith. Aren't I a lucky bastard to have photographs like this and to meet and work with guys like Kevin?
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
|IT'S OVER by Jack Latham|
I like the name Jack. When I was much younger, I used to read a lot of Jack London books and I think that maybe the reason I like the name so much. The books were full of wonderful adventures and derring do in more innocent times. Then, subsequently, I was intrigued that John F Kennedy was also known as Jack - it sounded so cool. Then there was Jack Nicholson whom I first saw in "Five Easy Pieces". I admired the way he played slightly amoral characters who stood up for what they believed was right - for example, see the scene in "Five Easy Pieces" where he clears the table in the restaurant and the scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where he commentates on the imaginary football game (or was it baseball?).
But, back to Jack - Jack Latham - the complete antithesis of Jack Nicholson. Whereas Nicholson is all knowing smiles and an uncouth manner, when I met Jack for the first time, he was very polite and looked like someone who had seen Shangri-La. His open, honest face and his easy, almost child-like wonder about his work and my project were immediately affecting so much so that I would have done anything he would have asked me to do in the shoot.
I went to his flat in Hove and we talked for quite some time before we ventured outside for the photograph. He had already suggested, and I had agreed, to photograph him as well. He took me down into a garage area below the ground floor which was like a moat around the block of flats. I had looked down upon this area from the bridge entrance to the lobby when I first arrived and thought it might make a good location for a short film I was planning. Jack used an enormous large format camera which is the one he lugs over to the USA when he goes on his travels down the Oregon Trail. I still know nothing about cameras but this was very impressive with the large plates and the cloth to cover his head as he set up the shot. First of all, I stood by some scaffolding and he took two shots there. I then told him I had been attracted by the place I had spied from the bridge and he really liked this part where a low concrete wall stuck out at right angles to the higher brick retaining wall. He wondered about me climbing onto the lower wall but then settled for me standing against the bricks and staring straight ahead. I stood against the wall and instinctively placed my hands against it to provide balance. He took a shot and then asked me to close my eyes and slightly bow my head for the second shot and he said at the time that this was "the one".
However, when it came to me choosing an image for my project, I preferred the first one. It was plain and simple - a man in grey leaning against a wall but there was so much more to see. The man is standing with the fingers of his left hand stretched out against the wall as a sign of, what? Moving on, going forward, not really staying still, restless. His clothes are creased by action. This is not a sedentary person; he is always doing things even if he stops every so often to think. He has his back against the wall but he will not give in. It is a brilliant shot suffused with an underlying emotion and a passion which come not only from the subject but also the photographer both of whom, in the moment the shutter has clicked, are at one.
We returned to the flat and I took a photograph of Jack with another of his cameras (don't ask me what it was). For some reason, I wanted him to be leaning over the balcony but with his head turned towards me. I wanted communication. We talked some more about his travels to the States and about the tragic death of Tim Hetherington and the birth of his own identity in his chosen art. Somehow, Roy Orbison came up and he said that "In Dreams" was his favourite song which didn't surprise me. Eventually, I said goodbye and, as I left, I felt that I was leaving some magic behind. I turned on my ipod shuffle and the beautiful voice of Brian Wilson rang out and then the magic worked and "In Dreams" came on. Jack was still with me - a good solid, gentle and sensitive man with an angelic face and a good solid name.
Monday, 19 August 2013
|DAYDREAM BELIEVER by Stacey Hatfield|
Sometimes, people creep up on you slowly and you realise that from the very start they were special. One such special person in my life is Stacey Hatfield. I am afraid that I cannot remember how I came across her work but it was certainly via Twitter in May 2013. However, I had met her a few months before when I managed to wangle my way in to a Nadav Kander Private View at a gallery near Oxford Circus. At that time, I was beginning to have more trouble walking and I could ever be entirely sure how I would be at a function like that. As it happened, I felt good as I stepped into the gallery. There I met Christina Theisen who had assisted Jillian Edelstein on a shoot I had done in North London. Stacey was with Christina that night and we chatted briefly but I did not remember her name so that, when I came across her work some months later, I did not put two and two together.
Then, in the summer, I was invited to talk about my project at a MiniClick event in Brighton and Stacey came along. In the meantime, we were corresponding and slowly but surely, I was beginning to sit up and take notice of this Stacey Hatfield. What began to dawn on me was that she was very committed and serious about her work - it was what she was about. We arranged to meet for a chat at the NFT Cafe on the South Bank and I think what finally hooked me was the way she scoffed her chips. I don't know why but I really like it when a person scoffs and she scoffed in a very beguiling way. Anyway, in between mouthfuls of chips, we began to talk and plan our shoot. This discussion continued by email until she and her lovely friend, James Brannon, came down to Brighton. By this time, we had fixed on a plan to shoot me on the beach but that was ditched at the last minute and we agreed to concentrate the shooting at my home.
We camped in our sitting room and whilst we chatted and I posed and she clicked, I played some vinyl 45s on my record player. We played lucky dip - they chose a number from left or right and I then took the record from the stack on the shelf and played it. All good fun. It was a very happy shoot and, by the end, Stacey said "Boo!" and I finally realised that Stacey was Special Stacey with a lovely smile and a keen intellect and a serious interest in her Art as well as being an arch Scoffer of Chips.
So, by the time that she and James returned to the house a few weeks later, we were really clicking. This time, they filmed me dancing to a tune from Amelie. I wasn't on top form physically but with their support, good humour and love, it worked. I thought afterwards that I wished I had been better physically and then I could have really nailed the dancing but, in fact, that didn't matter because the film was a record of what happened at that time on that day. It is a beautiful, lyrical piece which has Stacey stamped all over it. I do daydream and I do believe in love. That is what this photograph and the film say and they say it with assurance, power and love. It is a Stacey Hatfield photograph and a Stacey Hatfield production. How lucky am I?
Friday, 9 August 2013
|OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk|
You know when you are sitting at a table in a cafe or a pub after a function and you are chatting to the other people seated there - people you have only met that day for the first time - and one person above all others, holds your attention by dint of his or her engaging personality and the intelligence of his or her questions and comments? Well, that is what happened to me the day I met Julia for the first time. It was on 13th July 2013, the hottest day so far of that beautiful summer and I had just given a talk at a MiniClick event held in Brighton. The heat explains why not as many people came along as we were hoping but enough did come to make it a very good event. I spoke in the first half followed by about five photographers and then we had a break for lunch before a Question and Answer session in the afternoon and it was during the lunch break that I met Julia with some other members of the audience. We talked about this and that, including my project and in particular the question of nudity. Afterwards, she gave me her card and later I took the opportunity to look up her photography online and I was impressed with her work and her description of it.
I made contact with her and we met again at The Meeting Place Cafe on the Brighton Seafront and Julia said that there was a beach near Portslade which would be perfect as the location for our shoot if, as seemed likely, I was to be nude. I wanted also to try to find an unharvested cornfield up in the hills to the north of Brighton, if we could fit that in on the same day. Our first visit to the beach was very short and sweet and very wet! Julia took some photographs from some way off and then nearer the remains of some old, rusted metal breakwaters by which time the wind had got stronger and the rain was lashing down so we ran away to the car and thereafter retreated with honour to have a cup of coffee. The next shoot was much more successful in terms of decent images taken because the weather held and we got all the shots we wanted. We did not find a cornfield but we did find a suitable alternative in a quiet spot at the back of some newish houses where there were tall bleached grasses growing.
All the images looked great at the back of Julia's camera and I very much looked forward to receiving the finished articles. As Julia herself wrote of the beach shots on her blog, "The vast seascapes with the humble presence of Tim's body speak to me most. They point to fragility of life, power, drama and synthesis of the elements; an Osmosis of air, water, sand, sea and us."
Julia was quite quick in producing what she felt were the best images and I think very much that they captured the feel of those days brilliantly. The isolation of the location, the thoughts behind each shot, the feeling of utter liberation which I enjoyed but more importantly, the comradeship arising out of a true collaboration and meeting of minds. Julia is an absolute professional when it comes to Photography but she has a delightful personality and a wacky sense of humour. She is also married to a charming husband, Mark to whom she introduced me and who clearly is very interested in and supportive of her work.
It took me sometime choosing a final image for my project but I went for the above in the end - not that I had any real doubts; I merely had an embarrassment of riches from which to choose a single photograph to represent Julia. I love this shot - the way I am stretching up to breath in the cool morning air or maybe I am hoping to be beamed up to sit on a cloud as it scuds over this buzzy seaside city.
Since those two shoots, Julia has helped me shoot one of my silly films on You Tube (see http://youtu.be/nV1wQhPe0do and http://youtu.be/JWsE9i0XEJg) and together, we are looking to collaborate on more exciting things in 2014.