|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 290 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 which can be found on www.janeandrews.co.uk
Free the people, now.
Do it, do it, do it, do it now.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Monday, 4 August 2014
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
|SELF PORTRAIT, BRIGHTON, 8 JULY 2014, 6.03AM by Simon Roberts|
All good things come to those who wait. I wrote to Simon on 13th March 2010 and, sure enough over four years later, we met on Brighton beach for him to photograph me. Actually, it is likely that that first email in 2010 fell into his Spam and he never read it. Having in the meantime moved to Brighton, I started to hear more about Simon and not surprisingly because he is a very good and a very successful photographer. I have learned that the two do not always go together but, in Simon's case, they most certainly do.
Anyway, fast forward to 2013 when I wrote again and this time he replied saying that photographing me was an "intriguing proposition" and asking me to give him a flavour of the other photographs that had been taken. I duly sent him a link to this Blog and also a link to the video of The Culture Show that had featured my project when broadcast in 2011. However, Simon is a busy man, understandably, and it wasn't until early 2014 that we finally met to chat about the shoot. It was then that Simon revealed his idea which was to photograph me photographing myself. He thought we should try the beach and maybe somewhere else but, as it happened, I took my own self portrait on the apron to the short brick pier near the bandstand and sent a copy to Simon and he agreed that that was where we should have our shoot.
Finally, we met there on 8th July at about 5.30am. As he requested, I brought my Rolleiflex with me and my tripod and remote shutter release. As I know nothing about cameras, Simon very kindly agreed to set up my shots and, as I posed for my self portraits, he took his photographs. We must have spent about an hour doing this from various angles until Simon said that was it.
I then received this one photograph and, of course, it is brilliant and will have pride of place at the show at the Create Gallery in October along with, at Simon's suggestion, the contact sheet of the photographs I took that day, some of which didn't come out too badly. But when you have one of the great photographers helping out, what do you expect?
Simon is a very nice guy. He is quite serious, particularly about his work but he has a warmth and a little twinkle in his eye which shine through when you get to know him. And he is an excellent photographer. How do we know this? Well, look at this photograph - it is full of movement; my pose and the contrasting slow swell of the sea beyond which also provides the perfect backdrop. The colours are beautifully light, the silver blue of the water, the yellow buoy, the paler blue of the sky, the rich green algae on the sandstone pier, my skin made ruddy by the sun and the wind, all combine to produce a gentle kaleidoscope of different hues that melt together to give us image that is like a magic potion poured over the page. Delicious.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
|HEAD IN THE CLOUDS by Nicola Benford|
It was with the proposed show at Create Gallery in mind that I made contact with Nicola as I thought she was still based in Brighton having initially seen her work mentioned on the University website. However, having seen the quality of her work, I also knew that she was a very exciting prospect. So, I wrote to her in December 2013 and she replied that, as she was working full-time, she wouldn't be able to shoot me just yet but she did look forward to working with me.
Eventually, we started making firm arrangements for the shoot and she asked if I has anything bright and breezy to wear. I had just come out of hospital having had my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and, whilst I was in there, my darling brother had bought me this dressing gown made of pure silk - Nicola thought it was perfect. By now she was living in London but her parents brought her down with all her equipment and she looked through the house for a suitable spot and we tried some in our sitting room with me lying on our chaise-longue whilst listening to random selections from my 45 vinyl record collection but eventually we ended up in the room with the half-painted walls. She thought the white paint looked like clouds. At one point I dug out these glasses which I wear when I play Roger A Destroyer in my silly films and it was because of the glasses that I chose this particular image. I thought the brown frames provided just the right contrast with the other luscious colours in the shot.
Nicola was a delightful companion during the shoot and I was pleased that she was using her Japanese Bronica camera because there is something about them that is so reassuring. Not only do they make this wonderfully solid clunking sound when the photograph is taken, but also the results are so rich and deep. As I have said many times, I know nothing about cameras but I thought it was a reasonable guess at the outset of the project that about 90% of the photographers would use digital but in fact it must be about 50/50.
Nicola is a superb photographer and I was not disappointed when I received the photographs - they show what talent she possesses and that she will go far in her chosen profession. As with all talented young artists, she needs that lucky break but that will not be enough. She also needs to persevere and keep learning but having spent a few hours with her, I have no worries on that score.
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
|CADBURY'S DAIRY MILK by Robert Ludlow|
18th May 2014 – my birthday and I wake up feeling not very good because not only am I going into The National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London today for my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery but also, over the last ten days, I have had to reduce my dosage of one of my drugs to nil in order to make it less likely that I feel psychotic once I have been ‘’turned on”. I struggle downstairs and open my presents and cards. Everyone has been so kind but none more so than Jane whose birthday it was the day before. She has been amazing in the face of what has been an incredibly worrying time for her. I mean she went through it all before when I was first diagnosed, then she had to go through it again when, suddenly, I became Superman after going on the drugs. But this was different – it was a bloody brain operation.
My twin sister, Sally, came over having recently lost her husband and so she wasn’t feeling great either but I’m afraid that, by the time her two lovely children arrived, I had had it and just wanted to get going to the hospital which had telephoned quite early on to confirm that they had a bed and expected me late afternoon. We drove up and got there about six pm but I was so bad that Jane had to help swing my legs around so that I could stand up out of the car. She asked this big guy called Abraham if he could help. His wife worked at the hospital and he went in search of a wheel chair, found it, plonked me in it and then pushed me in; one of many acts of kindness shown to me over the next two weeks. I have to say, however, that apart from all this spazziness, I was in quite good spirits.
Jane took me up to Lady Anne ward guided by a nursing assistant called Jeff whom was going there himself as it happened. I never saw Jeff again during my stay there but I won’t forget him. I had already decided to give myself up to the nursing staff and just allow myself to be looked after. I was put in a side room off the ward and assumed that I would not be there all the time during my stay but in fact I was. Lucky Tim they call me.
Jane was brilliant because she said to me that evening, “Why are you doing this?” and I was able to justify my decision to her and myself. It wasn’t difficult. I said that I was doing it because, in six month’s time, I did not want to be six month’s worse than I was now. For example, I went to lunch with Jane and her sister and her friend Jo, the day before. I was fine on the way there but I stayed too long and I could hardly walk out of the restaurant at the end, let alone walk home. My main problem is “freezing” where my brain would go to the door but my feet would stay where there were as if they had forgotten how to move. Sometimes, it took me about 45 minutes (or more) to get undressed for bed. I couldn’t turn over in bed – I couldn’t sleep if I started shaking as my head hit the pillow – my whole body but especially my neck would go into spasm. If anyone knocked the door I would struggle towards it, yelling, ”I’m coming, I’m coming” only for the person to walk off before I got there. I’m not looking for sympathy by the way; I am just explaining why the decision to go ahead with DBS was a……no brainer.
That night, I slept on my back but half way through the night, I tried to get up but couldn’t. Eventually, I rang the bell and a nurse called Joanna came in and helped move my legs and my arms so that I could struggle to the loo. She was so kind and gentle. It meant everything.
Oh, angel of the night,
I did not want you
But you answered my call
In the darkest of dark blue.
You told me your name.
You moved my legs, you moved my arms
I did not call you again.
The morning sun throws shadows
Outside on the cool brick walls;
The sounds of the city awakening
Mingle with the footsteps in the halls.
No birdsong here today
Only the incessant bleeps
Perhaps I shall just lie back
And drift into a sleep
Oh, angel of the night
Pray for me in my bower;
Cometh the man into your embrace;
Cometh the hour.
It was also the first time I met Chris, the Aussie night nurse, who, over the next few days, I got to know and like a lot. We talked a bit about cricket and I mentioned that I was a member of the MCC and suggested that he might want to come to Lord’s one day as my guest. Initially, he seemed unenthusiastic but I think this was because he had been caught out before by a patient who had done him a favour and somehow that had created a difficult situation for him. During the next day, I saw Dr Hyam, Mr Zrinzo’s registrar and Joseph, the Parkinson’s nurse and the anaesthetist whose name I regret that I have forgotten. Hyam asked me to sign the consent form for the operation which referred to the various risks including “risk to life” – gulp. I told the anaesthetist about my photographic project and asked if there was anyone who could take my photograph with the cage on my head through which they would guide the electrodes. She was brilliant because, in the end, she arranged for the hospital photographic department to send someone down to do it properly. That someone happened to be Robert Ludlow who, in 2012, won the prestigious Wellcome Images Award for his photograph of the human brain during a surgical procedure for epilepsy. He is my 300th photographer.
My brother, Anthony (officially, the kindest man on the planet) came to see me later but I was very shaky indeed and pushed my self too far by showing him two of my films. I was grateful that he had come but he knew I was tired and left and I was relieved when he did because I was basically exhausted not by him but by me and my condition.
Then - 20th May 2014 – D Day or rather DBS Day. During the early morning, I listened to my iPod shuffle and almost every song reminded me of someone or something and made me quite emotional. Then Jane arrived quite early and it was so lovely to see her. I said that perhaps we should agree that I would say something to her after the operation so that she knew that my brain was all right and, after toying with several ideas including lines from plays I had done, Jane suggested “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk” and we agreed on that.
I was given a gown to put on and some paper pants and DVT socks and so I was all ready to go by the time Jane returned from her trip downstairs for a coffee. Hugo, the porter came down for me and took me to the MRI scanning room where the operating theatre was. I was placed on the bed and the anaesthetist asked me my name “Timothy Andrews” and my date of birth “18th May 1951” and then said “You have consented to have Stage one of a sub thalamic Deep Brian Stimulation” and I said “What?!?” as if I didn’t know. Well it made me laugh. At that point Jane left me and, what seemed like five minutes later, I woke up in the Recovery Room absolutely full of myself cracking what I thought were the funniest jokes and generally getting on everyone’s nerves I’m sure. Jane who had been having kittens upstairs had come down and met two nurses in the lift who had been assisting at the operation and when she asked how it had gone, she could tell from their smiles it was ok They couldn’t let her into the recovery room however because there was another guy in there who hadn’t yet woken up. I think Joseph, the Parkinson’s Nurse, was there and said that he was going up to tell Jane that I was ok and I asked him to tell her that I had said “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk”. He called Jane on her phone and when she asked how I was, he mentioned Cadbury’s and so Jane knew for sure that I had come through it with brain (and me) intact.
I met Robert when I returned to Queen Square to have the stitches removed from my chest where they had inserted the Patient Programmer and I received the photographs from him a few days later. I have to say that, although they were taken before the actual surgery began, they make for very uncomfortable viewing but actually this was the one which impressed me most. It is so peaceful and is wonderfully composed. It says so much to me about the love and care that all the people in that hospital bestow on their patients. I shall never forget them all or my time there. They are a credit to themselves, their respective professions and the NHS.
So, thank you Robert, Abraham, Jeff, Jack, Hugo, Paolo, Ludvic Zrinzo, Jon Hyam, Sammy Jo, Hazel, Moses, Ibrahim, Ade, Joanna, Julia, Joseph, Consuelo, Maris, Tim the King, Annette, Chris, Erla, Jean, Dafina, Timothy, Clare, Sheryl, Varndir, Akaysha, Catherine, Vaughan, Nyasha, Juliana, Alberto, Debbie, Sabirah, Cherito, Amy, Alice, Tola, Elvira, Purita, Michael, Hajni and Alfredo who nursed me, fed me, cleaned my room, took my pulse and blood pressure and temperature, made my bed, (in Robert's case) took my photograph and generally and genuinely cared for me and any others whose names I may have forgotten but whose love and mercy I have not.
But and it is a big BUT, I reserve the greatest praise for Jane whose love and devotion meant so much to me. People have said some very kind things about me but I could not have dealt with it in the way I did without that love and devotion. Lucky Tim - it doesn't even come close.
Saturday, 17 May 2014
Yep, I have been photographed by 299 photographers since May 2007 and it has been a wonderfully dizzy ride of emotion, love, companionship, creativity and artist excellence.
Thank you to all 299 of you for all that you have contributed by way of your time, patience, indulgence and talent.
Please see latest slideshow - https://vimeo.com/95586370
Please see latest slideshow - https://vimeo.com/95586370
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
|AMONG GIANTS by Andre Varela|
I have just watched on You Tube a lecture by John Cleese about Creativity. I always find it difficult to precis something I have just read or seen but I'll have a bash. One of the things Cleese said is that Creativity is not a talent but is very much related to an ability to behave like a child and to play. One either has a 'closed' mind at any given moment or time or an 'open' mind. When your mind is open you are able to be creative. Well, one day, my open mind looked at Flickr and saw Andre's work and it thought "Yeah, I could really work with this guy". Andre's open mind responded and he replied to my message on Flickr saying that he lived in Portugal and that he would like to come over to England with his partner, Catarina, as his assistant, and take my photograph. And so it was that eventually three open minds met at Gatwick Airport and they did not close until Andre and Catarina returned home three days later.
Andre is one of the most receptive, enthusiastic and open people I have ever met. In addition he is handsome, personable and kind. He is also a very, very good photographer. Yes, I know that I say that a lot and what do I know? I'm not a photographer and I have no idea how cameras work but I do have an opinion as every one does and in my humble opinion, he has a huge talent. Initially, he wanted me to find some locations in forests or on beaches. However, on the day of the shoot, I decided first to take them up to The Devil's Dyke and he was absolutely captivated by its beauty and magic as well as the amazing views. And it was there that this shot was taken. Afterwards, we tried more shots up there and then went to the beach and did some more. Then we returned to my house and did some more. We could have carried on through the night.
UNFORGIVEN by Andre Varela
In between all this, gradually, I got to know him and Catarina. They were originally going to stay with us but that wasn't possible because we had a full house so Joan Alexander, another wonderful photographer and human being, said that her friend, Martin Seeds, another wonderful photographer and human being (is there no end to this?) had a spare room and would be able to accommodate them. So, it was because of Andre and Catarina, that I met Martin - I might have met him anyway but later rather than sooner. I went round to his place to chat about it and to collect a key to give to Andre and Catarina and spent a good hour or so enjoying his very entertaining and erudite company. More on this in a future blog post - back to Andre and Catarina.
I collected them at Gatwick and I knew everything was going to work out well because my drive up the the motorway went well and the drive back went even better. I hadn't driven on a motorway for quite a while. On the way back to Brighton, we chatted in the car and, by the time we arrived, not only were we firm friends but they had already fallen in love with England (it was their first visit) and Brighton in particular. I took them to Martin's place and they all got on like a house on fire and later Jane and I had supper with them in the Lion & Lobster and it was talk, talk talk all evening. They were falling in love with Brighton and I was falling in love with them. I couldn't see them the next day; their original plan was to go to London for the day but they ditched that and spent the day in Brighton which they thoroughly enjoyed.
I said goodbye on the evening of the shoot and left them to find somewhere to eat. I gave each of them a hug and they responded with their Portuguese version and I felt sad that they were leaving. However, the following morning, I got up really early to see if I could catch them before they left and amazingly, they had got lost on the way from Martin's place to the railway station and, when I saw them floundering about in the road, I shouted out and they gratefully clambered into my car and I drove them to catch their train. I stood and watched as they walked up the platform and got into the carriage. They were gone. I sighed and turned away. I had a spring in my step as I did so and, as I skipped back to the car, I felt incredibly fortunate to be the person I am, doing the things that I do and meeting the people I meet.
I received the photographs very shortly afterwards. I'm sure that any decent photographer could take something similar but these were very special for two reasons. First, they were magnificent in their breadth and vision and secondly, they captured all the emotion that the three of us were feeling as we worked together. I was very moved by them because of this. I liked them all but this was the obvious choice to represent Andre in my project. Whenever I look at it, all I can think of is a beautiful couple, Andre and Catarina, at home in Portugal perhaps thinking of the time they came to England to see me and maybe, just maybe, we smile at the same time with the same amount of love in our hearts.
Andre and me
Monday, 5 May 2014
|CUPID'S BOW by ClarePark|
I first met Clare just over three years ago when I attended a Private View of a series of her photographs of Buz Williams, a guy who also has Parkinson's Disease. The photographs I saw that evening were technically brilliant. Beautifully clear and sharp and vibrant. She said hello when I went up to her and I could see her sizing me up but, unlike most people in that situation, her mind was not elsewhere. She looked at me - I mean, she really looked at me and took me in. I could not wait to work with her. Since then, she has become a great friend and it is difficult to remember how it used to be but I think we were friends from the moment we met.
Since 2011, she has photographed me a number of times and this shot is one of the last of a long line of amazing images which she has produced. How does she do it? Well, as I have already said, she is technically very adept. But there is so much more than that - it goes so deep. She is a supreme artist, she is grounded, she is a poet and she is a dancer who moves and speaks with grace and beauty. No words are wasted, no gestures are meaningless, no smile is false.
This is one of the few times when I have included in my project a second photograph by a photographer but quite honestly every photograph of me by Clare should be included.
Of this photograph, the full title of which is 'Cupid's Bow: Nerve Endings and Nerve Beginnings', she writes "Tim's photographic experiences in making ‘Over the Hill’ have usually been solo interludes with many different photographers. As his project took shape, I increasingly thought about capturing in some subtle way Tim’s constant, his scaffold, his love...his effervescent wife Jane. In my mind’s eye the picture was meant to honour this bond between husband and wife. On May 5th 2014 we translated my idea and for that short moment I was a fellow traveller in their extraordinary journey together..."
She is Clare - my friend, my chronicler, my surprise.
Feeling the Light (2013)
Saturday, 3 May 2014
|CHILDHOOD LOST III by Justyna Neryng|
Four years ago, I travelled down from my then home in Surrey to work with a photographer whom I had not met previously but whose work had completely captivated me from the first time I saw it on Flickr. Her name was Justyna Neryng. She had a few ideas for the shoot some of which involved me wearing an old vest and rubbing dirt over my face and shoulders. I washed this off and smarmed back my hair in the process and left it like that for the next shot; this time she wanted me to cry but when I explained that I had never been able to cry to order, she said not to worry as she had some glycerene. However, as she began to set the shot up, I began to feel a tear coming to my eye. I wasn't feeling emotional nor was I trying think sad thoughts - it was just coming. Justyna quickly finished her preparations and, just as the tear rolled down my cheek, 'click' went the shutter and we got the shot. It was a piece of magic.
And if you want to experience something similarly magical, I would urge you to make your way to Powis Street Studio to see Justyna's latest work alongside that of photographers, Tobias Slater-Hunt and Chris Bulezuik, costumier Chrissie Nicholson-Wild, stylist Zoe Della Rocca and film maker Zoe Van Spyk. These wonderful artists have combined to produce what they describe as ''a dynamic visual exploration of the complex transformation of the body.
Tobias Slater-Jones (who recently became the 294th photographer to shoot me as part of my own project) displays his amazing nude studies from the ''Closer to God'' series whilst Chris Bulezuik's series of portraits called "Mother" include some simply gorgeous representations of womanhood.
|CLOSER TO GOD XXV1 by Tobias Slater-Hunt|
And, as for Justyna, well the ''Childhood Lost'' collection is a stunning example of the wizardry which she produces in her studio with her talented and delightful daughter, Nell, who acts as her model. However, it is ''Ghost Dance IV'' that blows me away. The wonderful light and tone and the trailing hair which runs from one figure to the other. It is so beautiful, it makes me want to cry, with real emotion this time.
The exhibition is open every weekend during Brighton Fringe Festival until 1st June next. Get down there as soon as you can. It is a very special experience.
VAULT OF METAMORPHOSIS is at The Basement, Powis Street Studio, 4 Powis Street, Brighton BN1 3HJ.
WEBSITES: JustynaNeryng - http://justynaneryng.co.uk/
Tobias Slater-Hunt - www.tobiasslaterhunt.co.uk
Chris Bulezuik - http://www.chrisbulezuik.co.uk/
Thursday, 1 May 2014
|THE NIGHT HAS COME by Jo Thorne|
When this photograph was taken, I was really bad Parkinson's-wise. It was less than three weeks before my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and I had just begun to reduce some of my medication in readiness for the operation. BUT - there is no way you can tell from looking at this picture.
I came across the delightful Jo through Twitter - I think Twitter suggested her as a contact on the basis that she was similar to other contacts i.e. a photographer. So clever. Anyway, I wrote to her in March 2013 and she replied saying that she had heard of me already through Luca Sage and that she felt very flattered and slightly overawed at being involved in such an amazing body of work. It is an amazing body of work but Jo was a worthy participant in my view because I really admired her work and I told her so. What with one thing and another, we didn't meet for ages but eventually, she came round to my place and we had a good chat about her ideas and almost inevitably, I subjected her to a showing of my silly films. Even then, it took a few more months before we had our first shoot, in the woods, although the coloured powder which she had brought with her did not really feature. However, we also planned a studio shoot and this is where this image came from. Jo had an idea to photograph me on a chair with flowers strewn around but, as I say, I was not feeling very good that day and therefore not totally relaxed although I found Jo extremely easy to work with. There were a few shots left on the film and we decided to put me on the floor and immediately I felt better. Often, at home, when I felt bad, I would struggle to the floor and just stretch out and allow my illness and my tremors etc to sink into the floor. As a consequence of relaxing more, I had more energy to put into the pose itself.
I LOVE this picture. It is so romantic. I look normal whereas I certainly did not feel normal. I really feel that of all the pictures I have had taken this is the one of which I am most proud because we got there even though there was so much working against us. Jo is a perfectionist and I know that she had her doubts about the results of this shoot but, as far as I am concerned, it works splendidly.
I am not going to put up any other images from the shoots because I don't need to - this says it all. It says I met Jo, she met me, we connected, we communicated, we tried our best and then, with the help of a little bit of magic, we got this. I don't really believe in God any more although I was brought up to but I do feel that there is a special magical entity somewhere in the ether, in the sky, in our brains, in our spirit which we can draw upon like water from a well and it brings succour in our hour of need and makes things feel better when, but for a few notches the other way on the dial, they could feel worse.
After the shoot, I got dressed, walked unsteadily across the road and stood waiting for the bus trying to look and feel normal. I plugged my earphones into my ears and pressed play on my ipod shuffle. I got my bus pass ready and hailed the bus and sat down in a disabled seat and, as I looked out of the window, John Lennon began to sing "Stand By Me"in the way only he can...
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only night I see
No, I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
|RED BLACK AND BLUE by Alun Callender|
My long term memory is still very good but my short term memory not so good. I do not know whether this is because of my age (62) or my Parkinson's or what but the point of saying this is to explain why I cannot remember whether I met Alun inside Mini Click or outside. I suppose it doesn't really matter in the great scheme of things but it is something that concerns me from time to time - that is when I remember it is a concern. Either way, I did meet him and we chatted briefly about my project in which he seemed quite interested. However, it took a while to set up a shoot with him but, in the meantime, I looked up Alun's site and I discovered that he was an excellent photographer.
Eventually, we arranged a date for our shoot and, by coincidence, he chose the old Fruit and Veg market in Circus Street Brighton as the location only a few days after I had been there with Jim Stephenson. However, his backdrop was red whereas Jim's was white and he asked me to wear a dark jacket which would contrast with the red of the backdrop. He wanted me to appear as a sort of a ringmaster and so I brought with my Grandfather's silk top hat which has featured in a number of shoots and films over the years.
On the day of the shoot, I met Alun and his assistant, Charlotte Harber, at the market where they had already set up the set. Unfortunately, I was a bit shaky (as I was with Jim - that's Fruit and Veg for you!) and so I felt that the flow wasn't really there but Alun was very kind and it turned out to be a very jolly undertaking and it was interesting to talk to them both. Charlotte mentioned that she was a graduate of UWE in Bristol and I told her that her former tutor, Shawn Sobers, had filmed me in Brighton and had subsequently invited me to speak to the photography students there. We talked briefly about trying a nude shot but Alun was so pleased with what he had got from the clothed shots that we decided not to bother. We then went to The Lion & Lobster pub around the corner from our house and had a scrumptious lunch and a beer. I simply cannot go into a pub and not order a pint of beer. It has to be a pint too - half pints are not the same, even if one doubles up. Shortly afterwards, I received three images all of which I loved but this one stood out for me. Everything is right - the backdrop, my pose, the articles in the background and the colour. I was very, very pleased and so was Alun.
Isn't life wonderful? If I hadn't got Parkinson's, I would never have answered the advert in Time Out in 2007 and the project would never have started and so I wouldn't have moved to Brighton and gone to a Mini Click evening and bumped into Alun who would never have photographed me BUT I did get Parkinson's and consequently do all those things and that's why life is wonderful and strange and exciting and fun.
Friday, 25 April 2014
|ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW by Laura Stevens|
All you need to know is that this is an almost perfect photograph. I love the tone and the light and the colour and... well, everything about it. The fact that I am surrounded by the things in that room which are so familiar to me and which, in the main, Jane has brought into our home. I also love the shape of my rib cage, the strong tufts of my pubic hair, the sallow light on my body and the abandon of my pose.
I first heard of Laura in 2012 when I discovered that she had photographed the poet Clare Best with whom I am now involved in a separate project. Clare decided to have preventative bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction because of the strong likelihood that she would have breast cancer at some stage and she arranged with Laura to photograph her both before and after the surgery. I was interested in the way that Laura was affected by this experience and so I looked at her work on her website and as I did so, I felt this zing of excitement at the possibility that she might wish to photograph me in the same intimate way she appeared to approach all her subjects. Another zing arrived when she said yes, she would like to photograph me. Sh asked what, having seen her work, I wanted to get from working with her. I explained that I had seen how she had climbed into her subjects' lives and achieved a real intimate connection and the more I worked with photographers the deeper and further I wanted to go and, having seen her work, I felt I might achieve this with her.
At first, we talked about meeting in Paris, where she lives, as I was planning a trip there before my Parkinson's suddenly took a nosedive, but she really did want to photograph me at home surrounded by my own possessions and she made the trip over to Brighton with loads of equipment to do so. I had never met her before but we sat and chatted with Jane for a while and it was very pleasant and we both found her easy to get on with. She really liked our sitting room and that was what she plumped for as the location for the photograph.
We talked briefly about me being clothed to begin with but soon ditched that idea thankfully as although her photographs would have been great either way, naked was obviously the right way to go. We chatted a lot during the shoot about this and that and it was a very relaxed session. Laura directed me as to how she wanted me to pose and I added a few little bits I think. I received the images a few days later and I adored them. They were as good as I could ever have hoped when I first saw her work. I urge you to look at her website for more of the same. Laura is a lovely open person who is extremely adept at what she does because she has insight and a real desire to examine the lives and the feelings of her subjects. I feel very proud indeed to say that I have been photographed by her.
Thursday, 24 April 2014
|AN EMPTY HOUSE by Maeve Berry|
When Maeve first said that she would like to photograph me on stage, I imagined the shot quite differently to the way it turned out. I immediately thought of the Theatre Royal in Brighton where my daughter, Florence, had already performed in "Dandy Dick" and my nephew, Joshua, had produced "A Perfect Murder". I thought of the beautifully rich red velvet curtain and me in front, dressed in my white tuxedo, in the spotlight. However, when we first went to the theatre for our first shoot, I was surprised to see the curtain pulled back and the stage completely empty and open. This potentially gave a much greater depth to the images by way of both distance and meaning. The first shoot ended up being a trial run in that, by the end of the time allotted to us, we had a much better idea of what we were going for. The two shots that worked were the one with me dressed and sitting in a chair looking out to the audience and the one of me naked dragging a ball and chain represented by a balloon and a feather boa respectively.
The team at the the Theatre were very accommodating and supportive and were more than happy to allow us to return for a second shoot on 21st July 2014. This time, we knew exactly what we wanted and started with the feather boa and balloon. Maeve had found a purple boa and this colour looked tremendous under the lights. The idea was a playful take on the burden of my disease. Then, halfway through the shoot when the house lights came on, we saw how beautiful the auditorium looked from the stage, a view the audience never sees. We both loved the silhouette of me in the spotlight on the stage and wondered what it might look like from behind with the gorgeously fiery red and gold of the lights on the balconies as the back drop. What I couldn't see but Maeve could was the tinge of gold light on my head and arms and the weird distortion of the shape of my body in the shadow.
And it is so personal to me. I always wanted to be an actor - l do not regard my photographs as a performance because, even with the more theatrical poses, they are all the real me; I am not playing a part. I don't act on the stage any more and I don't think I could but of course I make my films. That sounds sad but it isn't. I had my day in the sun and enjoyed it hugely. I played some wonderful characters not least those in my two one-man plays - Harry in "Harry's Christmas" by Steven Berkoff and the boy in "These Childish Things" by Raymond Cousse.
So this image means a great deal to me even though I was sorely tempted to go for one of the Boa and Balloon shot all of which would have had no contest in any other circumstances. It was important to me that Maeve agreed with my choice which she did although I reckon she would have chosen the Boa and Balloon if it was solely down to her.
And what of the darling Maeve? A lovely warm and jolly person. A photographer with a clever, artistic and unusual eye. And a friend for life. Sod the bloody photographs - this is why the project has given me so much pleasure; I have met so many beautiful people like Maeve who, incidentally, was introduced to me by another special person, Joanna Burejza. (Sigh) oh yes, life is good. Very good indeed.
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Tobias Slater-Hunt is a superb photographer who lives in Brighton and was introduced to me by the lovely Justyna Neryng, another brilliant photographic artist. I have been trying to cut down my photographic assignments to concentrate on getting things ready for the PhotoFringe exhibition in Brighton in October but the one person I was desperate to work with was Toby. I first met Justyna when she shot me in June 2010 and it was soon after that shoot that she explained that Toby was very interested in photographing me. I looked at his website and found that he was a very innovative and exciting photographer and so the prospect intrigued me.
Shortly afterwards, we moved to Brighton and gradually got to know Toby and Justyna socially and indeed I was photographed a second time by Justyna and on this occasion, Toby was assisting her and I was very impressed at how he allowed her to run the shoot and was very sensitive when he was asked his opinion but more importantly when he was not but though to make a comment any way. In the meantime, one of his own portraits had found itself in the final shortlist of 60 for the Taylor Wessing Portrait prize in 2011 and very well deserved it was too. I was also up in Edinburgh when no other than the great Laurence Winram, completely out of the blue, expressed his admiration for Toby's work.
It still took another three years before I was actually in front of Toby's camera at a lovely studio just up the road from us and the image above came out of that shoot and what an image it is; it exudes such power and such grace.
|Image from Toby's Closer to God series|
It is his attention to detail that I admire so much and his patience. That said, he had the time to discuss what he was looking for and he was strong in his direction of me in our shoot. However, following my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, I now fell into his Metamorphosis project dealing with people whose physicality has been changed by surgery, be it medical or cosmetic, and so Toby kindly asked me to return to his home studio for another session which I did only a few days ago. Again his meticulousness came to the fore as he used up two rolls of film in his quest for the right image.
I am waiting to receive some pictures from this second shoot but wanted to put Toby on my map so far as my Blog is concerned and here he is.
I am waiting to receive some pictures from this second shoot but wanted to put Toby on my map so far as my Blog is concerned and here he is.
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Sunday, 30 March 2014
|FIVE STUDIES OF TIM by Martin Seeds|
Martin was introduced to me by fellow Irish Photographer, Joan Alexander. I needed to find a place where a photographer from Portugal, Andre Valera, and his partner could stay whilst he was over in the UK photographing me. Martin very kindly agreed to put them up and after I met him and found him to be a most enjoyable companion, and looked at his work, I very much wanted to work with him.
After a while, Martin told me he had been thinking about the shoot and he'd like to make an iPhone portrait of me that I could then transfer on to darkroom paper by contact printing. He had done this before but for my shoot he wanted to add a few more steps to the process. Once he had a darkroom contact print, he intended to scan it and have it transferred to film which he would then hand print as a black and white enlargement. He sent me a few images he had made with this process asking me to note also that these were candid shots and he was deliberating on such an approach with me. He went on to warn me that the results were unpredictable; however, he liked the contingency that the process brings and he saw a connection with that tension between the possibility and the uncertainty of everything in life.
I shall leave Martin to explain what he did in his own words. “The pieces are produced by making a physical relationship between contemporary technology and traditional photographic print making. An image taken on a mobile phone is “mined” as you would any other store of information. The phone's pinch and double tap gestures allowed me to search deep into the image and grab screen shots of interest. The phone screen, a light source, is placed face down on to traditional light sensitive darkroom paper leaving an image; a process harking back to photography’s early experiments.”
Martin's original intention was to scan the darkroom contact photographs and make very large prints. However, limitations of process and technology took him down other routes to this final, wonderful result. I think the images are extraordinary, certainly unlike anything I have had done before. I am really touched that Martin has taken the time and care not only to produce these but to have them framed ready for the exhibition in October where they will be on display at Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe.