|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 360 different photographers have photographed and filmed 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.
Monday, 28 September 2015
Sunday, 27 September 2015
|JOURNEYMAN by Dave Wares|
I was a solicitor from 1st October 1977 to 24th June 2006. I was articled at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex and then, when I was qualified, I joined the firm of Burley & Geach in Haslemere, Surrey first of all as an assistant solicitor and then as a partner. I worked hard, I worked long hours and towards the end, I found the job very stressful. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in November 2005 and I retired in June 2006. I think I found the job stressful because of my illness. It is a slow moving condition and certainly, the first signs had appeared in 1999 but, at that time, I had no idea that they were the symptoms of Parkinson's. It maybe that I had the disease well before 1999 but suffice to say that I was battling with an unknown foe for the last seven years of my legal career. I used to dream of giving up the law. Indeed, I had always wanted to become an actor but although I managed to do some acting and even find an agent to represent me, my financial commitments (e.g. mortgage, school fees, fast women, slow cars - spot the lie) were such that I could not really contemplate early retirement and a change of career. I would have had to be extremely foolhardy or brave to have retired in those circumstances. But it was handed to me on a plate. It was as if God had said to me [God speaks in booming voice from Heaven] "I shall give thee what thou desirest but there shalt be a catch....". The catch was Parkinson's. So Lucky Tim was plucked by the angels out of a legal career and dropped on a beach in East Sussex at sunset with a guy called Dave who photographed him facing the sun and holding a case. Hang on, I've missed a bit. The bit in between from 2007 to 2015, during which time I have been photographed by over 360 photographers. A photographic journey full of wonderful people and places. Full of images of me swimming in the sea off the coast of Scotland in my suit, lying naked on a ledge in a wood near Huddersfield, dancing on the steps of St. Pauls, running along a beach in France, dancing to Madness on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, sliding into an MRI scanner and hanging on to a branch of a tree wearing only underpants on a freezing day in February.A journey full of films about Zorro, The Black Thumbnail, Mr Merryweather QC, The Wiggle Woggles and Roger A Destroyer. A journey accompanied by my colleague Parkinson's Disease and its incessant attempts to make things more difficult by giving me a tremor, stiffness, slowness, dyskinesia, freezing of movement, slurred speech, loss of sense of smell, erectile dysfunction and loss of balance. A journey from lovely Ravenswood in Milford, Surrey to Brighton, East Sussex.
Where was I? Oh yes, Dave Wares. Well, I found out about him through a link to his work on Twitter. I went on his website and there were glorious photographs of castles, deserted buildings, landscapes, seascapes and street photography. I contacted him by email. He hadn't heard of my project but he looked at my blog and my film of my talk at Brighton Medical Centre and he said yes. So, not very long afterwards, I was on the beach at Birling Gap at sunset, holding a case and being photographed by Dave who had driven all the way from Hastings to Brighton to collect me. He had several ideas most of which were very successfully executed. This was the first to be tried - holding my case and looking out to sea and beyond. It might be thought that this was a representation of my past and in some ways it is but it also shows me now, still travelling with a case full of memories and tools with which to cope with a unknown future, a future that we all contemplate every now and then.
After these shots, we tried others including different poses in front of the sun, which was slowly sinking, and with a flash attached to an umbrella shade. We also played a bit with the case so that Dave could work on the shots on photoshop later. Dave had brought with him a snickers bar for each of us but, as the sun disappeared over the horizon, we agreed that we had done well and now it was time for a beer and something a bit more substantial to eat. All this time, we had chatted mainly about the photographs but in the car he had told me of his own photographic journey from taking snaps on a small digital camera to 35mm slides to his present DSLR. In the pub, we talked more and carried on talking on the way back to Brighton when it dawned on me how extraordinarily kind and selfless he had been to do all that driving.
I received a set of photographs from Dave shortly afterwards and I thought they were wonderful. I loved the ones with the flash which, as Dave said, had a very surreal quality to them. I was also very drawn to the two of me dancing and initially I earmarked one of those as the photograph for my project. The one of me jumping could have worked but it didn't quite. It was my idea to jump and Dave caught it beautifully but my leap wasn't as graceful as I had imagined it. In the end it was a choice between the one of me standing with the case and one of me dancing. I began to feel that the latter, as great an image as it is, was not quite as genuine as the former. This spoke to me in a variety of ways. It is a fantastic shot, it speaks of the past, present and the future. It means more. The title is Dave's but I was happy to adopt it too. Both the image and the title recall the words of Ralph McTell's song "The Ferryman". Dave has introduced yet another brilliant picture into my project. Fuelled by his imagination, his love of photography and the skills he has picked up over the years, he has created an excellent image. And, yet again, it has been proven that all photographers are really, really nice people
Oh, the traveller, moving on the land,
Behold I give you I give you the travelling man.
And he's very heavy laden
With the questions of his burden.
Lo, and I give you the travelling man.
He has crossed the mountains,
He has forded streams,
He has spent a long time, surviving on his dreams.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
|THINKING OF JANE by Valentina Quintano|
What is the connection between this photograph and Hove Cricket Ground? Well, on 11th May 2015, I was there with an old friend watching Sussex play and, during a break in play, I went to the loo and on the way, I passed a set of photographs displayed on a wall. They had been taken by Valentina Quintano who had been commissioned by FotoDocument, an art education organisation, jointly with Photoworks to create a One Planet Exhibition by means of a photo essay on the theme of One Planet Living. She was one of ten photographers chosen to represent ten sustainability principles and Valentina's was "Health and Happiness". The photographs were good. I could see that Valentina had thought very seriously about the project and what I liked particularly was the respect and admiration she showed for the people she photographed. I noted down her name and, when I got home, I looked at the work on her website. It was full of emotion and vitality and throughout there was a strong sense of empathy for people using what tools they had at their disposal to live their lives but more than that, the pictures had bravura. The movement and colour were wonderful - the billowing grey cloak being dragged across thick green grass, the rich gold of blazing candle light reflected in a man's spectacles. I wrote to her straightaway.
Valentina's response was interesting. She had had a look at my project and she proffered three potential subjects for consideration. First, she asked if there had been a specific question I had been asking myself recently either in relation to my illness or not. Secondly, she asked if I felt like sharing with her something I had never shared with anyone (a thought, action, story, nightmare or dream) and that, upon seeing my work, I felt I wanted to share with her. Thirdly, she asked if there was an aspect of my life that was normal and ordinary for me but which would not be for other people. She explained that she was fascinated by the relativity of the concept of normality. We met in a Dalston cafe (no, not that one) and had an enjoyable time talking around these questions but it needed a further meeting to settle on a specific way forward. Subsequently, we agreed a location and then, on 23rd September, my Mother's birthday (she would have been 96), the shoot took place.
We shot in the woods, the inside of the house, the pool and on the trunk of an enormous tree which had been cut down. The two photographs below are Valentina's chosen favourites and it was not easy to reject these as I loved them both. The interior shot has a beautiful soft sheen from the skylight above and my blurred face has magically come into focus in the glass of the picture on the wall. The photograph of me in the pool reflects the despair I felt (thankfully not too often) of the disease slowly pulling me under and yet paradoxically, I love the water. I am not afraid to confront and play with the idea of my mortality and Valentina is not afraid to photograph it. But the image which means so much to me is the one above. I stood there and gazed up into the sky and thought of someone, the difficulties we had encountered alone and together, her strength, her honesty. I have spoken of her before in relation to some of the photographs in my project but I have never had my thoughts of her photographed. If it is a beautiful image it is because she is so. If it is a brave image, it is because of her that I dare. If it is a brilliant photograph, it is because Valentina is an excellent photographer and she took it having planted the question in my mind.
Other people love each other, other people are beautiful, other people have honesty and courage but no-one thinks what I was thinking.
What was I thinking?
I was thinking of Jane.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
|THE TIN MAN by Sean Hawkey|
Brighton 12th September 2015. A 5th Birthday Party. A surprise birthday party for me because I had forgotten that it was on. Oh, yeah, it was in my diary but obliterating the scrawl which read "Min cluck porty" was another entry saying "
9am 1pm SEAN". So, when I walked up the steps of the Unitarian Church to meet Sean Hawkey for my shoot with him, I was pleased but slightly bemused to be welcomed by Jim Stephenson of MiniClick who told me that it was their 5th Birthday Party.
On the screen at the back of the dais inside the church were the names of sixteen photographers who were going to give talks that afternoon eight of whom had photographed me and one of whom might, just might still do so. Kevin Meredith walked past and gave me a strong, warm handshake. Kristina Sälgvik provided a friendly hug and I kissed Lou Miller hello and she asked if I would like a badge made from a Laura Pannack print. I found Sean Hawkey, whom I had never met before, in the back room. He had just finished taking a picture of the great Antonio Olmos who turned, beamed and said "Hi Tim!" as he pumped my hand. I introduced myself to Sean and he explained what he was going to do and I was allowed to queue jump much to the seeming chagrin of a woman who I think was next on the list. Nevertheless, I redeemed myself by letting a guy go ahead of me as he had to cycle to Preston to make an appointment - not sure the woman was impressed by this act of generosity. Oh, well you can't win them all.
I listened to some great talks by Alex Bamford, Niall McDiarmid and Antonio. I am afraid that I ducked out of Murray Ballard's talk to get back to Sean and his amazing camera. Ally Lethbridge, Abbie Trayler Smith and Annie Collinge and Jocelyn Allen were next up. Annie introduced herself to me beforehand and was quite nervous but spoke very eloquently. Ditto Abbie who had been allowed out to play by Harry and their son, Florian. The witty Peter Dench gave a typically amusing account of "Dench in Dallas" and he was followed by Stuart Griffiths and Ewen Spencer. Kevin Meredith then spoke very movingly of his daughter who is also five years old and already taking photographs, some of which were flashed up on the screen. He also paid a deserving tribute to MiniClick. In the meantime, the first shot by Sean was not quite to his liking and by the time he took his second photograph, I had an audience which made me a bit nervous myself but it was fascinating to see Sean create a picture of me on the tinplate. And what a superb photo it is. It is all in the eyes and I really like the fact that I am leaning slightly as it gives the image a movement that perhaps such photographs might not otherwise have.
Sean's description of the photograph is below:-
"It’s an 8x10” tintype shot with the wetplate collodion method. I used the chemical formula invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, and a Dallmeyer 3B lens made in London in 1872. Early Petzval-type lenses like this have more aberrations than modern lenses, that's why I love them, imperfections make pictures - like people - more interesting.
The chemistry has an ISO of just one, so the exposure has to be quite long. Even with a massive amount of light from a mercury vapour lamp very close to Tim, he had to sit completely still for an exposure of 6 seconds.
The image is a reversed positive, so it’s not how we see Tim in real life, it’s what Tim sees in the mirror. And the because the wetplate chemistry is mainly sensitive to invisible light, Ultraviolet, and the blue and violet part of the visible light spectrum, it’s not a record of what we see with our eyes. There’s no app to reproduce that."
I asked Billy Mather to draw the photograph by Solarixx so that I could send it to her in her hour of need. I pondered the possibility of nicking some birthday cake whilst saying hello to Ally who was sitting next to Melissa Campbell and Blake Lewis. I had to leave before the final four speakers but not before greeting the lovely Jack Latham. On the way out, I bumped into Alma Haser and Nick Ballon, talked westerns briefly with Melissa and Blake and Martin Seeds, walked back up the steps to chat to Jo Renshaw and then I was gone.
So, a lovely day full of lovely people and ended up with this amazing picture by Sean. What more could one ask for on Saturday 12th September 2015?
Friday, 11 September 2015
|APRÈS BAIGNADE by Alex Bamford|
This is the quickest shoot to blogpost ever for me. This morning, after my swim in the sea, I met Alex who had photographed me before for my project (See Here Comes the Moon). He was on a commercial shoot and on the look out to photograph people in Britain going about their business. He asked me if I would pose on the bandstand (the scene of another minor triumph of mine, the film "Let Yourself Go") and I did. This kickstarted his commission and he said that he found another eight people after me to photograph after me. Voilà!
Thursday, 20 August 2015
|Suzanne's photo of me and "my" photographers at The Lightbox Gallery Woking 2nd February 2015|
Suzanne works as a photographer for Reuters and I met her through Joanna Burejza. Suzanne photographed me for my project in Kensington Gardens in 2011 and afterwards she approached me with the idea of her photographing me being photographed by other photographers. She had spoken to Reuters and they seemed quite interested in doing a feature about it online.
The first shoot she covered was the second shoot I had with Joanna in London which took place in a machine room at the back of a cafe where Joanna worked. I was a little nervous being photographed by two people at the same time but because she knew Joanna from old and also because she is such a pleasant person anyway, I soon relaxed as Suzanne clicked away in a very professional and discreet manner. As I have said so many times before, I love the shoots most of all and to see these photographs by Suzanne was very exciting for me. For example, to see Joanna crouching down intently to photograph me as in the picture above is strangely moving.
|Joanna and me|
Me and Joanna
MILLY ANNE VINOGRADOFF
The next shoot which Suzanne covered was with Milly at her home studio in London. Milly is very much concerned with women's issues and indeed when she heard that, in the past, I had wanted to be a woman but remain heterosexual and that therefore I was in fact a lesbian, she was delighted. You will see that this is reflected in the shots below. Again, Suzanne was very discreet and, in fact, had to leave before the end of the shoot which enabled Milly and I to have some time working only with each other.
Milly applying make up for the Femina photo
The next photographer who was covered was Liz Orton who not only produced the fantastic Box photograph but also made the contact between me and Sarfraz Manzoor which led to the feature by him in The Guardian and also on the The Culture Show. She continued to photograph me after our first shoot together in 2010 in Milford, where we used to live. I think it was the third shoot this time at a studio in North London where Suzanne was present to take the brilliant photograph shown below.Liz and me
Me and Liz's light meter
Coincidentally, I was photographed by the charming Tess Hurrell quite near the studio where Liz Orton had photographed me. Unfortunately, I had not met Tess previously and this was the only shoot where perhaps it might have been better if Suzanne had not been there because, no matter how discreet she was again (and she was), Tess and I were not able to enjoy that special intimacy that exists between Photographer and subject. But then again, I would not have these great photographs from the shoot. As it happens, Tess has now moved to Brighton and we have arranged a second shoot together so all's well that ends well.
Tess and me
Tess and me
Paul is a very successful photographer in London whose work is featured regularly in many National newspapers and their supplements and I am not surprised because he is not only extremely talented but very engaging as well. Paul was working on a commercial shoot at a very nice studio in London and fitted me in which was very generous of him and he was equally gracious in agreeing to Suzanne taking photographs on the same day. What strikes me from a lot of these pictures is that there are a lot of smiles both by me and the photographer and that shows not only what fun we have but also how nice members of the photographic race are.
Paul photographing my awful feet
Paul giving direction
I thought it was the right time to revisit the earlier years of my project and in particular to publicise Suzanne's great idea and her work in the process
Thank you, Suzanne.
Monday, 10 August 2015
Saturday, 8 August 2015
|GOD ONLY KNOWS by Tee Chandler|
Around the dark red velvet curtains, a border of light is just about visible. I guess the time is - um, about 5.30am. I stretch out my hand and pick up my phone. The room is bathed in a fresh white light as it bursts into life. I focus on the screen - it is 5.19am. I think, yep, let's get up or maybe read a while or lie in bed and listen to some music. I decide to get up because I want to have a swim as the sun rises but also I have remembered that I had received some photographs I want to write about - these photographs. This is what this project has given me - not only a reason to get up in the morning but an excitement, an anticipation, an involvement in the lives of others. I dress quickly and creep downstairs and pick up my towel and place this in my bag with my swim shoes. They have large holes in each toe but they will last out the summer. As the front door clicks shut, I feel the chill of the morning breeze around my bare legs. I press play on my ipod shuffle. Noel Gallagher's gorgeous, driving guitar sets the beat for my walk down to the sea which looks flat from a distance. A few early commuters are hurrying along the pavements. No good mornings - we are all in our separate little worlds. As I come closer to the beach I think back to my swim yesterday with my friend Joan and hope the water is as calm and clear. It is. I slide down the pebbles and return the wave of a fisherman who I chatted briefly to a few weeks ago and who is standing on the other side of the apron in front of the brick pier where I swim. I undress but, in deference to my companion, I keep my pants on and wade in. It is cold, clear and wonderful. I push out with my pathetic breast stroke but it is my breast stroke. I twist, I turn, I float on my back and look up at the pale outline of the fading crescent moon. I take a breath and push forward with my head under the surface and I see white bubbles stream against the green of the water. Enough. I turn towards the shore and, as I leave the growing swell, I look up to see the fisherman wave goodbye. I dry my tingling body with my towel and take off my wet pants and stand there naked for a few seconds and face the sea. I think I am in love with it. I dress and trudge up to the road which takes me straight home. I grab a bowl of cereal and I sit down at the computer with Paul McCartney thumping his bass guitar in my ears. A flawed genius. We are all flawed but there are not many geniuses.
I stare at the screen and I think "Tee". I look at the photographs she had sent a few days ago. The photographs that had hit me for six. When I was swimming in that pool and she was photographing me, I had no idea that the resultant images would be like this. A magnificent swirl of grey smudges of light and liquid, of dark lines of eyebrow and thinning whisps of hair, of distorted bubbled boldness. Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" is on now, his urgent insistent voice moves my fingers across the keyboard as I look again at these crazy pictures and think how much they speak of the criss cross quiz of life. The calm, the passion, the buzziness, the somnolence, the glow and the flash of light. Fast. Slow. Mad. Sane.
Which one will I choose? I look at my arms outstretched as I glide forwards. Then I turn to me playing dead with my hands clinging on to - nothing. Then this mugshot. I put this up as I write these words and a new song rings in my ears. I may not always love you but as long as there are stars above you. You don't need to doubt it. I'll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I'd be without you. Ooooh. Brian Wilson. Certainly a genius. His melodies and arrangements are like this photograph. A mass of contrasting shapes and sounds woven together to produce something life affirming which moves me to write words which do not go anywhere near to explaining what this means to me. God only knows.
Friday, 31 July 2015
|WITHIN THE HEART OF ME by Lenka Rayn H.|
I almost called this "My Blue Shirt" because this shirt, one of my favourites, was blue originally but the colour has slowly drained out of it with each wash. However, what is most important to me about this image is my face. Lenka suggested that it might be nice to meet before the shoot because she did not want me to treat me as a model when I arrived but to know me more as a person. Well, we did not manage to meet beforehand and so I was determined to feel as relaxed as possible on my arrival, as if we had met before and it is this that is reflected in my gaze.
One of Lenka's favourites
What was it that I liked about Lenka's work that moved me to invite her to photograph me? Colour. There is a self portrait on her website where Lenka is in a room crouched next to a wall painted bright red. She is wearing a top which is the same colour and the buttons are undone revealing part of a white breast. Lenka's face is without expression but her stance is dramatic like the colour. It made me smile. Like these images on this page, many of her portraits have a gorgeous bleached tone from the natural light. Revelation. Many of her portraits seem to reveal the inner nature of her subject. Often their expression is blank but the more ones looks, the more one sees. And their skin is uncovered showing bare shoulders or, in her self portraits, a bare body. Emotion lies just beneath the surface. Lenka creates the atmosphere where Colour, Revelation and Emotion combine to produce images of stunning brilliance.
On 31st July 2015, the sun was shining in a blue sky dotted with high fluffy cloud. I got off the train at Forest Hill, established my bearings and got lost! A kind person put me right and I found myself walking up the wrong street but I could see from my map that it ran parallel to the right street and that there was a footpath which joined the two. The wrong street was typical of any such thoroughfare in suburban London whereas the right street was anything but. Its surface was cobbled for a start and the noise and bustle from within the attractive artisan buildings on either side revealed the feel of a thriving artistic community. It was like a small oasis tucked away and out of sight. I rang the bell on Lenka's gate and, as we greeted each other with a kiss, I knew that this was going to be a very good shoot. Her house, which she shares with her husband (also a photographer) was painted grey and soft white and beautiful photographs decorated the walls.
We chatted as I sipped a glass of water. I took off my jacket and sat on a stool in front of a back drop already set up. We started. She approved of my shirt and I told her the story of its blueness. She did not have much direction to give me; sometimes she asked me to lift a chin (I have several) or move a little forward or back. At her request, I took off my shirt. Lenka bobbed up and down covering the windows with curtain or board to keep the bright sun at bay. For some reason, I loved it when she opened a door onto a patio and positioned her tripod on the threshold and then knelt on one knee to view the shot before clicking the shutter. She had mentioned that she might exchange her digital camera for a large format camera and, when she did, I felt I had really earned it. She used up three or four plates and then, it was over. She made me some toast with cheese and salami and I showed her some of my films on her laptop. I said goodbye and walked away from an excellent shoot with a very nice woman. I received a set of images a few days later. Her favourites are shown here and, although they did not coincide with mine, they were all so uniformly good that really, I could have chosen any one of them - as you can see.
Thursday, 30 July 2015
|LISTENING TO CRICKET by Ben Roberts|
Why do I like cricket so much? Does it come from the feel of the bat or the ball in my hand when I played the game a boy and later as a solicitor in the annual Perverts v Lechers match on the green at Lurgashall? Is it because of all those times as a child, I would pore over the cricket results in the paper and marvel at the names of Cowdrey, Grout, Sobers, Barrington, O'Neill, Pollock, Trueman and Hanif? I still find myself transported back to my childhood when I look at today's results in the daily paper. Is it because of the times I was taken to Lord's or the Oval either by my cousin Ian or by Father Michael, the curate at St Michael's Church in Golders Green, where I sang in the choir? Ian adored cricket and I remember coveting his collection of Wisdens at his house at Goring-by-Sea in Sussex where I stayed once with my late sister, Janet. Many years later, Ian invited me and my twin sister, Sally, to come over to the house to take away what books and records we liked as he was moving to Thailand but the Wisdens had already gone.
I enjoyed the days at cricket with Father Michael because he also took with him an older member of the choir, Sylvia, who he (and I) rather fancied. In those days, we sat on the grass behind the boundary rope and I saw my heroes from the results in the paper such as Ted Dexter, Brian Close, Brian Statham etc. Or do I like cricket because the game is so interesting and enthralling? I was once at a dinner party and the men were talking about the then current Test Match and a woman said something like "What on earth is so interesting about cricket?" and I responded by saying that it wasn't just the game itself so much as the characters in it and that, for example, whenever David Gower went out in front of 20,000 people to face Merv Hughes bowling like a titan for Australia, we were to witness a contest between Supreme Skill, Grace and Vulnerability (Gower) and Brawn, Raw Power and Speed (Hughes). It wasn't about who scored what and who won but about individuals with the same fears, dreams, competitiveness and bodies as our own coming together in that one moment when a ball is hurtled at the batsman at 80 or 90 miles an hour from only 22 yards away. Either the stumps are shattered or the batsman leans back and executes a perfect cover drive as if he hasn't a care in the world.
So, this is what this photograph is about. Life. Love. Communication. Childhood. Respect. Success. Failure. Memory. Heroism. Oh yeah, and Cricket. I love this picture because I am not really there. I am being photographed by Ben and I am looking at the camera but my mind is elsewhere. It is on the field with the England team winning the Ashes. His beautiful American girlfriend Francheska, is in the background admiring Jane's paintings whilst Ben shoots me. It is a lovely Summer's day and I am spending it with two people I have never met before. They are in love and are getting married in a few weeks' time. They have travelled over from their home in Madrid to marry in England where Ben was born. I show them some films, we talk about cricket, art, nudity, marriage, TV, films, photography.
We wander down to the sea and Ben photographs me there too, on the brick pier near where I swim some mornings if the sea is not too rough. Every so often, as we stroll along the front, I listen in to the score. Gulls wheel over over our heads barking like bandits in that coarse way of theirs, a few people brave the cold and totter tentatively into the water holding their hands up until they dip down slowly and then rise up rather more quickly. We have a drink and chat some more and then we wander back home where they collect their things and go off in search of Fish and Chips which Ben has promised to buy for Francheska. About ten days later, I receive four photographs from Ben who declares that the one with my eyes closed is his favourite. I think about them for a while and plump for the other one. About a week later, I remember to text Ben my congratulations to them both on their wedding day. I imagine them smiling and kissing as they are told that they are husband and wife. What has life in store for them? Who will they meet on the way? What will they talk of as the sun goes down? Who knows? All I do know is that Ben is a now a friend, that he has married Francheska and that he is a superb photographer who has captured all this in one simple image.
- CLR James
Thursday, 23 July 2015
|ALMOST THERE by Ania Mroczkowska|
Almost there. Looking forward.
There was film a made in 1964 called "I'd rather be rich" in which the American crooner, Andy Williams, sings a song to Sandra Dee called "Almost There" whilst he is driving a car. They are happy and carefree and in love with each other and with life and why not? Life is wonderful. Certainly when there are photographers like Ania about to take photographs like this. I came across Ania's work on the Portrait Salon site and immediately said to myself ''Yep, she's the one for me!'' Her portraits were large and out there - they demanded my attention. There is a guy pulling at his beard but looking you straight in the eye, a girl parting some curtains looking intently through her glasses and a man drawing on a cigarette fixing you with his gaze through the plumes of smoke. But it is the picture of an older man with his eyes closed which really grabs me but more subtly than the others. His skin around his neck is lined and wrinkled, his bare chest flecked with brown hair which contrasts with the soft grey whisps on his head, two vaccination scars are sunk into his left arm and the glint of the gold of his wedding ring replicates the sparkle in his gentle, accepting eyes which have opened in the two pictures which follow. He has been examined by Ania's camera lovingly and carefully and it was no surprise to hear from her on the shoot that this is her father.
Ania is an interesting person. The furniture in her tidy flat which she shares with her husband is neatly set out. There is no junk. And she proceeds with the shoot methodically and calmly. We talk a lot about life and photography. She asks me to remove my shirt, to sit this way and that, to lean on a walking stick. We talk some more, about my project, about nudity and then seemingly in the blink of an eye, I am at her door saying goodbye. But in that time, her mind is whirring, sorting, shifting and examining and she produces another glorious portrait but this time it is of me. And one thing I notice in it is the little flash of light from the handle of the walking stick like a drip on the end of my middle finger and I look up to see a ping of light in my right eye and I wonder if she has noticed it too and that is why she chose this particular image. Light, harmony, detail, investigation and purity. Just some of the elements which Ania harnesses and then sets out for all to see. It was indeed an honour, Ania.
Yes, I am almost there.
Thursday, 2 July 2015
|TIME PASSES by Amanda Harman|
To begin at the beginning...........
We turn off the A27 to The Witterings and my heart begins to beat faster. We pass the block of flats where I once babysat (in about 1971) with my girlfriend at the time. She lived with her family in Grosvenor Road but, as we pass that road a few yards further down, I think not of the girlfriend but of my late sister, Janet, who died at the Hospice there in 1996. Another quarter of a mile or so, on the left is where a very nice old man called Mr Broadbridge used to live. When I was articled to Raper & Co, solicitors, in Chichester, my principal, Mr Underhill, sent me to see Mr Broadbridge about a planning application. He lived on his own in an ancient cottage surrounded by a large area of garden. He died some years ago now and the house has gone, replaced by modern light industrial buildings - the planning application was successful. Then we come to the turning to Dell Quay where we all had that last drink with Janet after she had taken communion in the hospice garden. The road swings round a bend and we head for the Birdham Straight. I am now almost breathless with memories pumping through my brain. My eyes are soaked with sadness and wonder as I drive through Birdham and past the nursery where I once worked, the Lamb Pub where my mother, working behind the bar, met her great friend Sue, past Redlands Lane where Keith Richards lives still. I am getting closer now - Malthouse Cottages, along the road where Jane and I travelled, as friends, drinking whisky from the bottle as we drove, Nunnington Farm, Gaiety Fair, Royce Way where there were once only fields and trees, The Old House at Home which we rushed to arrive at before closing time on a Sunday, the Village Green where I caught the Number 53 bus to school and where the garage and Miss Marmont's grocery store once stood and then round one bend and then the other and it comes into sight. Berry Cottage. The house where we lived from 1964. The house where I grew up, where we had buckets catching the rain dripping through the roof, where I would run down the hall and leap and pretend to head the ceiling light as I would head a goal, the house with the latches and light switches that clacked and clicked, the fire that would smoke the lounge out if the wind was in the wrong direction, the downstairs loo with the postcards stuck to the walls, the red front door, the barn where we kept the goat, the field where we kept the cow, the wall over which Barker the dalmation leaped to his death, the biscuit tin painted red by my mother and nailed to the wall to impersonate a burglar alarm, the larder, my bedroom, the cat door, the birdbath, all surge through my head as the car passes and I look and remember.
We carry on, Amanda and I, down Berry Barn Lane and we park in the drive of a dear friend who allows us to do so but whom I ask every time, to be polite. The sea is out and is almost invisible. We amble along and Amanda stops at some dunes and takes some photographs ending with this one, her favourite. My feet dig into the sand not wanting to let go of that feeling of powdery warmth. I lean forward playfully under the leaden sky and 'click' the last photograph is taken. There is one more memory. As we walk back along the path linking the beach to The Strand, a man passes us riding his bike. I look at the wheels pressing the patterns of the tyres onto the mixture of sand and chalky stone and I see the wheels of my bike. I see my feet on the pedals, I see the 13 year old boy slowly falling in love with all that life can offer. I see the past. I taste it. I inhale it.
Earlier in the day, Amanda arrived at our house in Brighton, which coincidentally, also has a leak in the roof and we chat and drink tea and I showed her snippets of the documentary I made of Berry Cottage. Amanda had favourited a tweet about my shoot with Kathy Foote and I was very impressed when I looked at the work on her website. She asked me which work of hers I was particularly taken by. Well, take your pick. The girl in blue in Rwanda, the pictures of empty spaces full of story and the section entitled Tidal Reaches which I said reminded me of my beloved West Wittering where I had lived as a child. She then replied that Wittering had played a part in her life as a child also. It was then that we decided to shoot there. We met subsequently at the the degree show of UWE Bristol which was held at The Bargehouse on the South Bank. Amanda was very friendly and I knew that we would get on well. We did. She concentrates on each photograph and knows exactly what she wants from it and gets it. She goes straight to the heart of her subject. In my case, the beating heart of life and love, of experience which informs the present, of me. She is an excellent photographer who sweeps by but then stops, takes a step back and takes a shot and then carries on to the next, pauses, considers and clicks and before you know it, there is a chronicle of time and emotion frozen by the combination of her expert eye, her innate sense of composition and her love of people and the places they inhabit.
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
Wednesday, 1 July 2015
|MR MERRYWEATHER Q.C. by Justyna Neryng|
I wanted to be an actor from a young age but, when I was about 18, Mrs Anderson, my English teacher and the wife of the headmaster at my secondary school, asked me what career I wanted to follow. I had just recently finished reading "We, the Accused" by Ernest Raymond which was a story about a man who kills his wife and is tried for her murder. There is a long sequence in the book covering the trial and I marvelled at the description of one of the barristers; he was handsome, quick witted, articulate and eloquent. I told Mrs Anderson that I wanted to be a barrister. "That won't do" she said and when I asked why, she said that all barristers were actors and she had seen no evidence that I could act. Admittedly, I had not really done any acting apart from a memorable playing of Buttercup in HMS Pinafore when I was 12 - memorable for the flatness of my voice - but I knew that I could act and set about proving it by performing in three plays one after the other at school and then ended up as a solicitor. Eventually, I did some acting and even acquired an agent at one point but I couldn't afford to give up my day job and so I had to squeeze it into my spare time. However, playing Mr Merryweather in my films means that my wish has been granted in some small way and, when Justyna and I got together to discuss our next collaboration, Mr Merryweather seemed the perfect choice especially given her execution of the beautiful Childhood Lost series.
Whenever I visit Justyna in her flat in Hove, it reminds me of our very first shoot in 2010, a year before we moved to Brighton. We clicked then and we click now. As usual, Toby Slater-Hunt assisted her and we shot a number of photographs in different poses but, when some weeks later, we went through them on her laptop together, this one leaped off the screen. It seemed to capture the character of Mr Merryweather in so many ways. His seriousness, his flamboyance and his romanticism. The picture itself has so much to commend it - the light which brushes the right side of his coat, the way in which Justyna has highlighted the richness of the colour of the coat and the contrast with the dazzling white of the wig and ruff as well as the blood red of the ribbon around the roll of papers containing his brief. The landscape format of the photograph places him on a stage rather than squeezed into a portrait.
As usual, Justyna has created a wonderful image capturing all the facets of Mr. Merryweather's character to bring him to life and I am proud to say that this is the third photograph of hers to be included in the project.
MR MERRYWEATHER VIDEOS:
Thursday, 18 June 2015
|MILO AND ME by Viveca Koh|
As is often the case with some photographers, I am afraid I cannot recall exactly how I came across Viveca's work but come across it I did and I was very impressed so I sent a message to her in August 2014 and about 9 months later Viveca was going through unread messages and came across mine. She explained in her response that, unfortunately, her DSLR had been stolen but she had been experimenting with iPhoneography and she suggested that I come up to her in South London and that we meet for lunch and she would snap away. Now, with someone else, this may not have sounded too thrilling but this was the person responsible for some wonderful images displayed on her website which showed her to be an exciting and imaginative photographic artist and so I was very keen to proceed on this basis.
I caught the train to East Croydon but forgot to bring with me not only my directions but also Viveca's mobile number but I just about remembered where she said she would be parked. As it was, she called me once I stepped on to the ancient streets of Croydon and, when I told where I was, she confirmed that I was walking in her direction. I had no idea what she looked like but I recognised her car from the scraps of information she had given me and that lay scattered about in my brain. As I approached her rather snazzy and sporty motor, she got out and hugged me hello. She looked very pretty in a long flowing summer dress. It was a beautiful June day and the portents were good. We started chatting immediately and she told me that she had decided to photograph me at her home against a plain wall and that she would stop to buy some sandwiches for lunch. I love the sound of those two words; Sandwiches and Lunch. They remind me of the time when I read The Famous Five books written by Enid Blyton. I didn't say this to Viveca at the time because the thought didn't occur to me then although, funnily enough, she offered me some Ginger Beer when we arrived at her place. Hurrah!
We proceeded to scoff our sandwiches and quaff our pop (please forgive the excess of Blytonese) and it was absolutely topping (sorry) and we began a longish discussion about my diagnosis, my project and Siamese cats, the latter subject prompted by the presence of Viveca's gorgeous little Chocolate-point cat, Milo. He was a bit shy at first but then started showing off and generally making loud yowling noises as he misbehaved in the garden room which was normally out-of-bounds. We swapped cat stories and I told Viveca of our love affair with Siamese cats which began with Indiana and carried on with Ernest, Theo and Henry.
Then we got down to business. Viveca explained that she had subscribed to an App on her iPhone called Hipstamatic which basically gave her various different lenses to produce different effects with the camera on her phone. But, even more interesting was a feature which picked a lens at random out of the many on her phone whenever it was shaken. She said that she wanted to use that feature and for me to adopt a different pose or expression every time she shook the phone. This reminded me of the scene in "Hard Day's Night" where George Harrison is being photographed by a press photographer during an informal junket where journalists and other guests were invited to interview and take pictures of the Fab Four. Viveca wanted to produce a square collage of these random portraits and we eventually agreed on 49 and so, each time she rattled her iPhone, I adopted a different expression. Of course, Milo joined in and this was my favourite of all of them.
It was all over pretty quickly but, as you know, these shoots are not all about photography - they are about communication, friendship and discovery. We talked about our respective families, the books on her shelves, her interest in the History of The First World War, Saving Private Ryan (not a great film, apart from the thrilling sequence when the troops disembark on the Normandy beaches), Lee Miller, my films and respectively Viveca's friendship and my shoot with Louise Haywood-Schiefer the latter which had taken place only a few weeks before in the same neighbourhood.
I had arrived in Croydon at 12 noon and it was almost 4pm and yet the photographs had only taken about fifteen minutes. Viveca showed me the shots on her laptop and I purred with appreciation and so did Milo as I tickled him behind his ears. Time to go and Viveca drove me back to East Croydon and we hugged goodbye. It had been a grand day. The sun was shining as I walked towards the station and picked up an Evening Standard. The train arrived within a few minutes and I turned to the Crossword over which I dribbled biro ink as I nodded off and dreamed of smugglers' caves, egg and cress sandwiches wrapped in waxy Wonderloaf paper, bells on handlebars and Victoria Sponge Cake until the train gently came to a halt in Brighton. My shoot with Viveca is another lovely memory now to go with all the others; Viveca herself is another person who, as I sat at my desk in my office some 9 years ago, I could never have imagined meeting and this photograph and the collage are reminders of a beautiful day in Gipsy Hill.
Friday, 12 June 2015
|FITZROVIA CHAPEL by Claude Savona|
One evening in 1962, when I was 11 years old, a stray dog walked into our front garden of our house in Finchley. My mother was on her way back from work as a hairdresser in Fetter Lane and, as usual, my eldest sister Janet was looking after the rest of us i.e. my twin, Sally, and my younger sister, Corinne. Anthony was away at boarding school. We were very excited about this dog. It may be because our own pet dog, Dinah, had died not long before. When my mother returned, Janet was telling her all about it in the hall as we listened over the bannister and my mother told Janet to go upstairs and get us into bed. We all charged back to our bedrooms but, as I dashed across the landing, I tripped on the threadbare carpet and fell smack against the side of my door. Janet came up to me. My nose was bleeding heavily - Janet said it seemed to be broken. My mother called a taxi and I was taken to the local A & E and they confirmed it was broken. Shortly after, I was taken to Middlesex Hospital and a surgeon said he thought it was ''worth a tweak'' by which he meant resetting it - normally they waited until a boy stopped growing at 18 before resetting it. When I was admitted for the operation, I was introduced to the Matron who happened to be a cousin of my mother's, Priscilla Cooper. Whilst I was there, on Sunday I attended Holy Communion in the hospital chapel. This chapel. Years before, my father had been treated in the hospital for his lung cancer but no avail. He died in 1953 when I was two years old. Then, years later, in 1996, my sister Janet received some disastrous laser treatment for her breast cancer, again to no avail. I remember walking past the chapel and recalling my visit there some 34 years previously.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, Claude's idea initially was to photograph me in a hospital and he suggested The National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Queens Square in London where I had my Deep Brain Stimulation operation but I didn't feel right about that somehow no matter how much I had enjoyed my stay there. We then discussed a museum as a possible location perhaps with a medical connection but that came to nothing. Finally, I suggested a church on the basis that Jesus was a saviour and DBS had saved me and also we could keep the medical connection if we were able to shoot in a hospital chapel. Then I had a brainwave - there was a chapel in Middlesex Hospital with which I had so many connections and so I googled Middlesex Hospital but found it had closed in December 2005 (a month after my diagnosis) and had subsequently been demolished.........apart from the Chapel! I then discovered the Chapel had been restored and was to be taken over by the Fitzrovia Trust and that the Chairman of the Trustees was a guy called Edward Turner whose email address and telephone number were on the Trust's website. This sort of personal contact information is not always made public and it indicated that Edward was an approachable person. How right I was. He answered my email immediately and then passed me on to Craig Peniston who worked for the company which had developed the site and he said they would very happy for Claude and I to work in the Chapel.
Within a couple of days, we were there. It was weird walking down Mortimer Street and for the hospital not to be there. I met Claude in the reception of the new office building which had replaced it and then we both met Craig, a tall friendly man who took us round the corner to this utterly beautiful building. Everything in it had been meticulously restored - the stunning marble walls and alter, the mosaic floor and the amazing ceiling covered in gold. I felt so privileged to be there. Claude photographed me on his film camera and, over a period of almost three hours, we tried various shots and angles. Afterwards, we had lunch and enthused over what we had achieved. Claude sent me some rough contact sheets and the photographs were universally excellent but gradually I realised that the more relaxed poses and close-ups, however good they were (and they were very good), were not right for the project. It had to be a shot which reflected the magnificence of the Chapel and its significance in my life and so this was the one. My pose is relaxed, not too formal but respectful. The Chapel looks incredible. I could not have planned the shot better and we were both very pleased with this.
Some times I am approached by photographers rather than the other way round and so it was with Claude who was recommended to me by Christina Theissen, another great photographer who had assisted Jillian Edelstein on the "Brook Shoot" and who had photographed me herself (we have not yet decided on which image of hers will be represented in the project). He was born in Malta which coincidentally is where my DBS surgeon came from. We met in a Shoreditch cafe and I found him to be an interesting companion. He is quite reserved but quite quickly sheds his diffidence and opens up, his conversation becoming more animated as he begins to express himself. I like him a lot. During the shoot, he worked carefully and methodically and welcomed any suggestions by me very readily and selflessly. And he produced a superb image as you can see.
Who would have thought that the 11 year old boy kneeling in the pew in the Chapel in 1962 nursing a recently tweaked broken nose, would return 53 years later and be photographed there, in the one part of the old Middlesex Hospital that miraculously still exists? And all because of an old stray dog.