|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 240 different photographers have photographed me and it has been incredibly interesting and exciting as I have seen the project develop day by day. I have met many wonderful, skilful people many of whom, normally, I would never have met let alone spent several hours with them.
It has been a fascinating journey. I have always loved photography but never had the patience or skill to practice it successfully. However, being a model has enabled me to collaborate with brilliant practitioners of the art and to be part of the artistic photographic process.
I decided on "Over the Hill" as the title of the project in January 2009 but I had not discussed this with anyone until I met Roberto Foddai a few weeks later to talk about his ideas for our shoot. He produced two pieces of headgear he wanted me to wear and said that one of them had some wording on it which he felt was somewhat ironic. He turned it over and on the front were the words – ‘Over the Hill’.
This project is dedicated to my wife the artist, Jane Andrews, who has taught me about integrity, truth and wisdom through acts, words and deeds all of which are encompassed in her truly wonderful paintings www.janeandrews.co.uk
Free the people, now.
Do it, do it, do it, do it now.
Monday, 9 December 2013
Monday, 2 December 2013
|Arthur Wiggle and Maurice Woggle|
These are "The Wiggle Woggles" who appear in my short film of the same name which you can find on You Tube. This has nothing to do with my photographic project, "Over the Hill" as such except that, if it wasn't for Parkinson's Disease, I would never have started the project in the first place and may never have had the time to start making my own silly films such as this classic.
The film started off as so many of mine do with the purchase of a record at our local Oxfam charity shop (one of the best in Brighton). This record was a 78rpm recording of a Xylophone tune. I was at a loose end one day and so, inspired by the tune, I raided my dressing up box (doesn't everyone have one?) and put on these clothes and within about an hour, The Wiggle Woggles were born.
This film is one of Jane's favourites and it is now enjoying its first public performance at "!MAGICK! House", an artist's open house at 43, Orange Row, Brighton BN1 1UG (at the back of Gardner Street) as part of Brighton's Christmas Open Houses. It is being shown along with lots of other very interesting exhibits including a brilliant new painting by Jane "2 Steps Back" which can now be viewed on her website. The house is open for viewing from 11am to 4.30pm on weekends only from now until 15th December (incidentally, our 34th wedding anniversary).
Wiggle Woggle cards can be purchased for £1 each at the Open House and a DVD containing two films can be ordered for the cost of £5 each by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org - all profits will go to Parkinson's UK.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
|TRACEY EMIN by Michael Birt|
So, I was on a number 28 bus from Brighton to Lewes and hoping that my tremor would calm down before I arrived at Michael's house for our shoot today. It didn't but, as soon as I saw Michael's smile as he answered the door, I knew that it was going to be alright - and so it was.
I don't often write about a shoot in advance of getting the photographs but now and again, I have such a nice day that I just want to tell everyone about it. Michael is handsome, slim and he owns a beautiful smile which seems to play on his lips and around his eyes continuously. He is a fan of The Beatles and - hang on, stop there, what is there not to like? He tells interesting and sometimes moving stories and is very generous when you tell him a story. He is a gentle man and a gentleman. He cares and that is what being a gentleman is all about.
It was a thoroughly satisfying shoot. This is a photograph of Tracey Emin he took and I have included it here because we talked about it and her - it seems that we are both fans. It is also a great picture - centred, intimate, challenging - like all his photographs. We talked about The Beatles, Southport, Ken Dodd, Clive James, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Thatcher, Danny Devito, Richard Griffiths, Grandchildren, Mike McCartney, Roger McGough, Marilyn Monroe, The Graduate, Blue Jasmine,
Charleston, Monk's House and Peanut M&Ms and a lot more besides.
After the shoot in his sitting room which benefits from a north facing light and a view of a lovely Biwa tree in his garden, he asked me to share some home made soup and salad with him, followed by a mug of tea and a biscuit. By then, I really felt that I had outstayed my welcome but the warm handshake and another flashing smile at the door said otherwise.
This is why I have enjoyed this project so much. It is full of nice people like Michael Birt who also happen to take very good photographs.
Thank you, Michael.
Friday, 11 October 2013
Sunday, 22 September 2013
|SMILE by Vici Watkins|
Yes, a very satisfying shoot and a marvellous photograph to boot. That rhymes doesn't it?
If you just smile.
.....and she brought a delicious carrot cake with her!
Friday, 6 September 2013
|The Opening of the Private View|
On 1st October 1977, I qualified as a solicitor, having undertaken my Articles of Clerkship (now known as a Training Contract) at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex. I applied to several firms for a job as an assistant solicitor including Burley & Geach who made me an offer which I did not refuse but they also told me that there were no prospects of Partnership. Four years later, I became a partner of the firm. I continued to work at the Haslemere office until 1985 when I moved to our new office in the nearby village of Grayshott where I remained until 2006 when I was forced to retire due to having Parkinson's Disease. On 6th September 2013, thirty six years after I had qualified, I returned to open a show at the Haslemere Educational Museum. The Private View was attended by many people I have known for some years including several former clients and my former senior partner as well as a number of other acquaintances from my days as a lawyer. It was very interesting, not only to return to my old stamping ground, but also to speculate who might come along. I was very touched that those who did attend spoke so movingly about the project and me and my health problems particularly Alan Perry whom I have known for over 35 years and who said some very kind things in his address. I really felt glad to come back and to mix together the two worlds I have inhabited i.e. the legal world and the post diagnosis world of modelling, filmmaking and writing.
The photographs on display show a brilliant cross-section of the marvellous array of the challenging and inventive work in the project. Some of the photographs have been exhibited before but a large proportion have not and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Haslemere not only to see my show but also the other wonderful exhibits on show elsewhere in this great little museum, the reputation of which has increased hugely over recent years. This has been due mainly to the hard work and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers as well as to the wise decision making by the trustees led by the ubiquitous Alan Perry who brought an energy and an intelligence to his dynamic chairmanship in recent times, and which has been continued by the present incumbent, Melanie O'Dell.
Some years ago, a short time after my diagnosis, I went to see a speech therapist as my speech was beginning to become slurred. One day, she asked me how I had been and I explained that recently I had joined a local film society but when I attended the first film in the programme a few nights before, I had bought a plastic glass of wine and, as I walked to my seat, I felt very conscious of friends watching me do so and possibly thinking ''there's poor Tim, shaking''. The therapist said to me that I had to get used to the fact that I wasn't the Tim I was before, I was Tim with Parkinson's. That helped me a lot. I am Tim with Parkinson's but, at the Private View, the old Tim was still there.... deep inside and it was he who introduced the new Tim to some old and valued friends.
A film I have made about the exhibition can be seen here. A longer version with me talking about each of the photographs on display can be seen HERE.
MUSEUM WEBSITE: http://www.haslemeremuseum.co.uk/
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
|IT'S OVER by Jack Latham|
I like the name Jack. When I was much younger, I used to read a lot of Jack London books and I think that maybe the reason I like the name so much. The books were full of wonderful adventures and derring do in more innocent times. Then, subsequently, I was intrigued that John F Kennedy was also known as Jack - it sounded so cool. Then there was Jack Nicholson whom I first saw in "Five Easy Pieces". I admired the way he played slightly amoral characters who stood up for what they believed was right - for example, see the scene in "Five Easy Pieces" where he clears the table in the restaurant and the scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where he commentates on the imaginary football game (or was it baseball?).
But, back to Jack - Jack Latham - the complete antithesis of Jack Nicholson. Whereas Nicholson is all knowing smiles and an uncouth manner, when I met Jack for the first time, he was very polite and looked like someone who had seen Shangri-La. His open, honest face and his easy, almost child-like wonder about his work and my project were immediately affecting so much so that I would have done anything he would have asked me to do in the shoot.
I went to his flat in Hove and we talked for quite some time before we ventured outside for the photograph. He had already suggested, and I had agreed, to photograph him as well. He took me down into a garage area below the ground floor which was like a moat around the block of flats. I had looked down upon this area from the bridge entrance to the lobby when I first arrived and thought it might make a good location for a short film I was planning. Jack used an enormous large format camera which is the one he lugs over to the USA when he goes on his travels down the Oregon Trail. I still know nothing about cameras but this was very impressive with the large plates and the cloth to cover his head as he set up the shot. First of all, I stood by some scaffolding and he took two shots there. I then told him I had been attracted by the place I had spied from the bridge and he really liked this part where a low concrete wall stuck out at right angles to the higher brick retaining wall. He wondered about me climbing onto the lower wall but then settled for me standing against the bricks and staring straight ahead. I stood against the wall and instinctively placed my hands against it to provide balance. He took a shot and then asked me to close my eyes and slightly bow my head for the second shot and he said at the time that this was "the one".
However, when it came to me choosing an image for my project, I preferred the first one. It was plain and simple - a man in grey leaning against a wall but there was so much more to see. The man is standing with the fingers of his left hand stretched out against the wall as a sign of, what? Moving on, going forward, not really staying still, restless. His clothes are creased by action. This is not a sedentary person; he is always doing things even if he stops every so often to think. He has his back against the wall but he will not give in. It is a brilliant shot suffused with an underlying emotion and a passion which come not only from the subject but also the photographer both of whom, in the moment the shutter has clicked, are at one.
We returned to the flat and I took a photograph of Jack with another of his cameras (don't ask me what it was). For some reason, I wanted him to be leaning over the balcony but with his head turned towards me. I wanted communication. We talked some more about his travels to the States and about the tragic death of Tim Hetherington and the birth of his own identity in his chosen art. Somehow, Roy Orbison came up and he said that "In Dreams" was his favourite song which didn't surprise me. Eventually, I said goodbye and, as I left, I felt that I was leaving some magic behind. I turned on my ipod shuffle and the beautiful voice of Brian Wilson rang out and then the magic worked and "In Dreams" came on. Jack was still with me - a good solid, gentle and sensitive man with an angelic face and a good solid name.
Monday, 19 August 2013
|DAYDREAM BELIEVER by Stacey Hatfield|
Sometimes, people creep up on you slowly and you realise that from the very start they were special. One such special person in my life is Stacey Hatfield. I am afraid that I cannot remember how I came across her work but it was certainly via Twitter in May 2013. However, I had met her a few months before when I managed to wangle my way in to a Nadav Kander Private View at a gallery near Oxford Circus. At that time, I was beginning to have more trouble walking and I could ever be entirely sure how I would be at a function like that. As it happened, I felt good as I stepped into the gallery. There I met Christina Theisen who had assisted Jillian Edelstein on a shoot I had done in North London. Stacey was with Christina that night and we chatted briefly but I did not remember her name so that, when I came across her work some months later, I did not put two and two together.
Then, in the summer, I was invited to talk about my project at a MiniClick event in Brighton and Stacey came along. In the meantime, we were corresponding and slowly but surely, I was beginning to sit up and take notice of this Stacey Hatfield. What began to dawn on me was that she was very committed and serious about her work - it was what she was about. We arranged to meet for a chat at the NFT Cafe on the South Bank and I think what finally hooked me was the way she scoffed her chips. I don't know why but I really like it when a person scoffs and she scoffed in a very beguiling way. Anyway, in between mouthfuls of chips, we began to talk and plan our shoot. This discussion continued by email until she and her lovely friend, James Brannon, came down to Brighton. By this time, we had fixed on a plan to shoot me on the beach but that was ditched at the last minute and we agreed to concentrate the shooting at my home.
We camped in our sitting room and whilst we chatted and I posed and she clicked, I played some vinyl 45s on my record player. We played lucky dip - they chose a number from left or right and I then took the record from the stack on the shelf and played it. All good fun. It was a very happy shoot and, by the end, Stacey said "Boo!" and I finally realised that Stacey was Special Stacey with a lovely smile and a keen intellect and a serious interest in her Art as well as being an arch Scoffer of Chips.
So, by the time that she and James returned to the house a few weeks later, we were really clicking. This time, they filmed me dancing to a tune from Amelie. I wasn't on top form physically but with their support, good humour and love, it worked. I thought afterwards that I wished I had been better physically and then I could have really nailed the dancing but, in fact, that didn't matter because the film was a record of what happened at that time on that day. It is a beautiful, lyrical piece which has Stacey stamped all over it. I do daydream and I do believe in love. That is what this photograph and the film say and they say it with assurance, power and love. It is a Stacey Hatfield photograph and a Stacey Hatfield production. How lucky am I?
Friday, 9 August 2013
|OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk|
You know when you are sitting at a table in a cafe or a pub after a function and you are chatting to the other people seated there - people you have only met that day for the first time - and one person above all others, holds your attention by dint of his or her engaging personality and the intelligence of his or her questions and comments? Well, that is what happened to me the day I met Julia for the first time. It was on 13th July 2013, the hottest day so far of that beautiful summer and I had just given a talk at a MiniClick event held in Brighton. The heat explains why not as many people came along as we were hoping but enough did come to make it a very good event. I spoke in the first half followed by about five photographers and then we had a break for lunch before a Question and Answer session in the afternoon and it was during the lunch break that I met Julia with some other members of the audience. We talked about this and that, including my project and in particular the question of nudity. Afterwards, she gave me her card and later I took the opportunity to look up her photography online and I was impressed with her work and her description of it.
I made contact with her and we met again at The Meeting Place Cafe on the Brighton Seafront and Julia said that there was a beach near Portslade which would be perfect as the location for our shoot if, as seemed likely, I was to be nude. I wanted also to try to find an unharvested cornfield up in the hills to the north of Brighton, if we could fit that in on the same day. Our first visit to the beach was very short and sweet and very wet! Julia took some photographs from some way off and then nearer the remains of some old, rusted metal breakwaters by which time the wind had got stronger and the rain was lashing down so we ran away to the car and thereafter retreated with honour to have a cup of coffee. The next shoot was much more successful in terms of decent images taken because the weather held and we got all the shots we wanted. We did not find a cornfield but we did find a suitable alternative in a quiet spot at the back of some newish houses where there were tall bleached grasses growing.
All the images looked great at the back of Julia's camera and I very much looked forward to receiving the finished articles. As Julia herself wrote of the beach shots on her blog, "The vast seascapes with the humble presence of Tim's body speak to me most. They point to fragility of life, power, drama and synthesis of the elements; an Osmosis of air, water, sand, sea and us."
Julia was quite quick in producing what she felt were the best images and I think very much that they captured the feel of those days brilliantly. The isolation of the location, the thoughts behind each shot, the feeling of utter liberation which I enjoyed but more importantly, the comradeship arising out of a true collaboration and meeting of minds. Julia is an absolute professional when it comes to Photography but she has a delightful personality and a wacky sense of humour. She is also married to a charming husband, Mark to whom she introduced me and who clearly is very interested in and supportive of her work.
It took me sometime choosing a final image for my project but I went for the above in the end - not that I had any real doubts; I merely had an embarrassment of riches from which to choose a single photograph to represent Julia. I love this shot - the way I am stretching up to breath in the cool morning air or maybe I am hoping to be beamed up to sit on a cloud as it scuds over this buzzy seaside city.
Since those two shoots, Julia has helped me shoot one of my silly films on You Tube (see http://youtu.be/nV1wQhPe0do and http://youtu.be/JWsE9i0XEJg) and together, we are looking to collaborate on more exciting things in 2014.
Monday, 29 July 2013
|PIECE OF CAKE by Valda Bailey|
When I first arrived at Farley Farm, many years ago, I was full of wide-eyed wonder. I had long been an admirer of Lee Miller's photography and a large part of that was based on her hedonistic lifestyle which, like that of the Bloomsbury Group, was unchartered fantasy for me. I am talking here not of sexual fantasy but more of an interest in seeing how art transcends morality. Therefore, imagine how it felt for me to walk around the gardens naked and pose for Valda's wonderful photographs. Also, how appropriate it should be Valda who photographed me there as her own work had struck me as so beautiful when I discovered it via her correspondence on Twitter with the likes of Rob Hudson.
Valda came to tea with us at Brighton armed with the most delicious home-made cake I have ever tasted and this may very well have given Valda her idea of a formal, naked, tea party for one in the grounds of Farley Farm. At the shoot, Valda brought lots of goodies to eat as well as a two tier cake stand. I provided the crockery, table and chair. She had two thoughts for a location - either the formal rose garden near the house or the open field by the car park. We plumped for the former and had great fun whilst Valda clicked away as I gorged on the sandwiches and cakes which Valda had brought with her. After the tea shots, we wandered around the gardens and tried poses next to several of the sculptures. This was one of the first shots and I remember that Valda purred as she took the photograph. I felt good too as I obeyed her request to lean against the trunk of the tree and let my arms hang loose like the rest of me. How many visitors to Farley Farm in the past had done the same?
Valda wanted to shoot me next inside the old greenhouse by the Kitchen Garden and after we finished there, we finished up in the field where I shed my clothes again and, holding only a polka dot umbrella, I went bonkers in the field much to the possible surprise of visitors to the village shop in the car park which abutted the field although I guess that the inhabitants of Muddles Green have seen stranger sights over the years. The wind was quite strong and it was as much as I could do to keep hold of the umbrella - I secretly hoped a big gust of wind would lift me up like Mary Poppins.
So that was that - a magical morning in a special place but Valda agreed to my suggestion of a drink and a chat at the local pub, neither of us really wanting the magic which had been conjured up between us to dissipate but, eventually, the time came for us to let it go and I returned to Brighton and she to her home and the editing of the photographs.
And look what she produced! A sumptuous feast for the eyes. When I first received them, I flitted from one to the other like the wasps which had buzzed about the sandwiches and cakes which Valda had made with the same love and care that she now displayed in the final edits of her photographs. I fed on each of them and, as I guzzled, I drank in their intoxicating colour and vibrancy until I had to stagger away with a belly full of wonder. I had to choose one of these images for my project but I needed to rest first. I noticed that she hadn't sent me any of the shots in the field and, when I asked her about these, she realised that she had omitted to send them and they followed soon after. They only made my task more difficult. I decided to choose two - something that I have done only four times before. Valda had been daunted by her task and the responsibility of following some amazing work by others but she need not have worried. Even Lee Miller would have been proud of what she produced and what is more, Valda has cast a sweet shadow over Farley Farm and, whenever I return,
my mind will drift back not only to Lee Miller and her life there but also to the gloriously happy day on which I was photographed by Valda Bailey. She is very self-effacing but she is exceptionally good at what she does and I suspect that, deep down, she knows it.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
|CARRY THAT WEIGHT by Emma Critchley|
I promised that I would write another post about my shoots with Emma Critchley and so, here it is. I loved the first shoot with Emma but the problem we had then was that the water in the pool was too murky to produce decent pictures. However, it set me up for the second shoot in that I got to know Emma a bit better and also her assistant, Hannah, and also I got used to being underwater and swimming in the pool. When I first went into the deep end on the first shoot, Emma told me to take a weight into each hand and allow myself to sink to the bottom when my feet would touch the ground as I landed but that, if I panicked at all, I should let go of the weights and I would float back up. So, I took a weight in each hand and held on to the edge of the pool, took a small breath and let go. I sank down, my feet touched the ground, I panicked, dropped the weights and shot straight back up gain! Emma said "That was quick!" Eventually, I got more courageous and and managed to stay down there long enough for Emma to shoot some images which informed her as to what to go for when we returned another day when the water was clearer. This we did on 17th July 2013.
I got the bus this time and arrived punctually. I got undressed and plonked into the pool and, of course, it was glorious again. This time, we went straight to the deep end and started on the shots which had succeeded the first time. Emma also adjusted the lighting which produced some interesting effects. I suppose the shoot must have taken about three hours again, maybe more, but the time sped by. I absolutely adored every minute of it. Not only was I swimming (and sinking) as I posed for the photographs, we were chatting too and it was all very relaxed. I do so love the shoots.
Afterwards, we had lunch in the Mad Hatter in Montpelier Road and then later on, I received the initial versions of Emma's favourite images form the shoot. They were simply wonderful. There were basically three that were the very best and it has been so difficult to choose just one as each said something different. However, after a lot of thought this is the one I chose. I really like the awkwardness of my pose and the shadow behind me. Emma produced them in black & white as it made the space more ambiguous. It reminds me of a painting by an old master but I cannot think of the name of the painting or the identity of the old master. If anyone can help, it would be most appreciated.
Emma is a great photographer. She knows what she is doing and does it very well and very efficiently but she has an artistic eye and a strong intelligence that enables her to fix on something and turn it into these beautiful weird images. We are planning to work together again and I know it will be pure joy, serious but fun, just like Emma.
Monday, 15 July 2013
|Clockwise from top right: Photos by Alma Haser, Chris Floyd, Harry Borden and Brian David Stevens. Centre: Luca Sage|
On what must have been the nicest Saturday of the year weather-wise, 13th July 2013, the wonderful Mini-Click organisation held an event in Brighton at which I was invited to speak along with five of "my" photographers namely, Harry Borden, Chris Floyd, Alma Haser, Luca Sage and Brian David Stevens. I was asked to get there at 10.30am and sure enough, I arrived at 10.40 having ploughed my way through hordes of day trippers marching purposefully down Queens Road from the railway station on their way to the beach. I had paused only to slip into Tesco Express to test a shelf-filler with the tricky question "Where are the pork pies?" to which he replied with a mumbled "porkpiesporkpiesporkpies....."whilst dragging his forefinger with mock concern over some labels on which he was stacking cold meats of various kinds eg Beef, ham, turkey, horse. After what seemed like three minutes I decided to put him out of his misery and pursue a different subject of enquiry to which he replied "The square root of 94 sir? I think you will find that this is what you're looking for" and he handed me a scotch egg.
The basic theme of the day was Portraiture although other subjects came up including "How to photograph Paul McCartney", "Which famous 60s photographer was shot with his finger up his dog's fanny?" and "Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur?".
I was first up and rattled on for about 15 minutes about my project and showed about 20 photographs and then the others followed talking about their own work as well as their collaborations with me. They were all extremely interesting and entertaining as I am sure that members of the audience will confirm. What struck me particularly was that it made me realise even more why I love the shoots so much. It is because I get to meet and work with these people and to experience what they described on the day (apart from the canine petting) and that is why the project is still ongoing. I'm sorry but I'm not expressing myself very well but I hope you get the drift.
We knocked off for lunch at about 1pm and enjoyed drinks from the bar, picnic treats and thought provoking conversation with members of the audience until we returned for a Q & A session led very adeptly by Jim Stephenson. We finally finished at about 3.45pm and, after a few more drinks, I left for home and fought my way again through a slightly pinker version of the same horde of day trippers whom I had met earlier in the day ......
A splendid day meeting old friends and new.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
|'TIL THERE WAS YOU by Emli Bendixen|
I was informed by Twitter on 20th February 2013 that I was being followed by Emli who described herself as being Korean/Danish and living in North London with a little dog. It also said that she was a photographer so I looked up her website, liked what I saw and wrote my usual email saying that I thought her work was wonderful and unlike anything I had ever seen before and it was and it is. If you look at the photographs on her site, they may not seem unique or amazing at first but look closely because what comes through really strongly is that all the photographs have been composed with real love and care. Again, there are plenty of artists who create with love and care but Emli has her own way with things and to me, it is totally and genuinely unique.
We corresponded and eventually agreed on 27th June as the date to meet certainly and, possibly, to do the pictures too which we did. It was a lovely day not only because Emli is the sweetest person but also because we played Beatles' records all the time and everyone knows how much I love their music,. We chatted a lot too and Emli met Jane and adored her paintings.
I received the photographs very quickly and they were all magnificent but this was my absolute favourite. Fortunately, Emli agreed and bob's your uncle! She mentioned afterwards that, although she and the other photographers come close to me, they don't really know me so there is something between us but not in a bad way at all. Indeed, as Emli said, the grainy glass panels placed me in a slightly alternate 'place'.
What a lovely day, what brilliant little images and what a nice person for me to meet. Hat-trick!
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
|DARK AND DEEP by Al Brydon|
If you happen to go down to the woods in the Peak District today then you can be sure of a number of surprises including bumping into a very strange man called David Spew. Actually, I made that up - as far as I know, there is no-one called Spew in the Peak District or anywhere else in the UK unless he is ex-directory. No, if you do go down to the woods in the Peak District, you might come across a man taking wonderful landscape photographs that take your breath away and, if you do, it is likely that you have met Al Brydon. And if you have met Al Brydon, then you will have discovered also one of the nicest men you could wish to meet in the dark, deep woods of north east England. My introduction to Al was through Twitter (for me, the new Flickr, the new Gumtree) via the great Rob Hudson. Having seen how an approach to a primarily landscape photographer like Rob worked out so successfully, I had no qualms about approaching Al and when I did, he agreed to photograph me. He lives in Sheffield - a place from my past. I fell in love with a girl called Susan in 1971 but soon after we started going out, she went to Sheffield University to study music and I went to London to read Law. But I was not only in love with her, I was in love with love and so I went up to Sheffield to see her and carried on doing so every second weekend until we split up six months later. One day, we decided to catch a bus to the countryside south of Sheffield and we got out at a stop on a road in the middle of a place called Nowhere and walked into the woods and..............well, I was curious to revisit the woods again. However, I had no idea where Nowhere was which is just as well because a pilgrimage is not necessarily conducive to a good photographic shoot.
I met Al at Sheffield Station and immediately he was friendly and chatty and I knew that our day together was going to go well and so it came to pass. We did a lot of walking and set up some shots in one location and I posed as Al asked me and, whilst he fiddled with his camera, I looked around me and marvelled at the beauty of England which suddenly seemed much bigger than the country described by the weird journalists at The Daily Mail writing recently about the population explosion (bloody single mothers) and the end of the world as we know it. Daily Wail more like. Anyway, enough of all that - back to Al. We then moved on to this place which was below a large bank. I don't know what it is about large banks but, so far, when me, a large bank and a photographer come together an incredible image is created and this is no exception.
We travelled on to a few more locations and in the middle, took a short lunch break but basically we worked together until it was time for Al to take me back to Sheffield to catch the train home. I received his selection of shots shortly after. God, I was so excited by them and so proud. Proud to have met Al, proud to be a part of his work. This image was the one for me and Al agreed, thankfully. So I now have a wonderful new image for my project and a very nice man not called Spew as a new friend.
Susan died of breast cancer only recently. I had not seen or communicated with her for almost 40 years. Unfortunately, I couldn't go to her funeral but I wrote to her daughter Olivia and we met in Dartford and I gave her a bundle of the letters her mother had written to me in 1971. She was my first love. She was witty, bawdy and beautiful. She had dark hair and brown eyes.
AL BRYDON'S WEBSITE: http://www.albrydonphotography.co.uk/
Saturday, 22 June 2013
|Ken from the series "The Final Sitting" by Miles Holder|
Last Thursday evening, I attended the Private Views of the Final Degree Shows of a number of Universities and Colleges at Free Range held at the Truman Brewery Building in Brick Lane, London. I have been going to Free Range since 2008 when I attended the show by Middlesex University and saw the work displayed by Gavin Phes, Petra Kubisova and Emma Davies, all of whom have photographed me. This year, I started off with the University of the West of England but I would have missed it if I hadn't got to Brick Lane early and been directed to The Rag Factory by a guy in the street.
The standard of work by the students from Bristol was very high. This was particularly the case with Urte Ursule Sutkute whom introduced herself to me. The other images which took my eye were the simple self-portraits by Kathy Foote and the beautiful pictures of the hands of the victims of Alzheimers by Natalie Morrell. In all three cases, I felt very moved by what I saw. I asked the students if their tutor, Shaun Sobers, was around and, although they expected him to come along, he had not yet arrived. Shaun filmed me last year on Brighton Beach.
|From the series "Hands" by Natalie Morrell|
By this time, I was weaving in and out of different shows and stopping at displays which really caught my eye. These included the stunning "Disclosure" by Alice Flannery (to whom I spoke briefly), the gorgeous landscape by Kaylee Gorman and the beautifully presented series of pictures of gypsy travellers by Sophie Brocks which brought to mind the work of Vanessa Winship.
I talked at some length to Barbara Dixon who was showing her excellent self portraits which she has taken since being diagnosed with cancer. It was interesting to hear how she had used photography to challenge her illness.
On the way out, I bumped into Tichelle Norman and Derrick Kackembo in exactly the same place I had met Derrick the year before and then dashed home, pausing briefly again at The Rag Facory to see if Shaun had yet arrived. He hadn't.
So, lots to see - it is on over this weekend I think so anyone reading this should try to get down there to see what the next generation of young photographers is coming up with. It is not at all bad. It is very good.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
|DIRTY OLD MAN by Anastasia Trahanas|
I don't have a clue where I first saw Anastasia'a work but I do know that I really liked it from the start. It shows a deep interest in humanity and a real love and appreciation of the human body. So, I had to write to her didn't I? Yes, of course. But guess what? She said no! She originally suggested that she photographed me as part of her "Naked Britain" project but then withdrew her invitation. That was in 2010. However, we kept in touch and in 2012, I proposed again that she photograph me and this time she said yes.
Fast forward to Spring 2012 and we finally met at King's Cross Station and had a lovely chat. I had seen a beautiful photograph on her site of some plastic animals on a female model's pubic area and I had asked if we could do the same but she explained that the image I had seen was a very spontaneous shot and she had since tried it on a male but it didn't work. Nevertheless, I brought some plastic toy soldiers along to our meeting. I think she was impressed!
Her idea was to photograph me as a dirty old man - literally - with dirt all over my naked body. The things people make me do! I came to Anastasia's home studio and stripped off almost immediately and didn't put my clothes back on until two or three hours of fun and laughter had been enjoyed with her and Astrid Schulz who is a good friend and colleague of both of us. First of all I got good and dirty. Astrid helped me with the undercoat and then prepared the topcoat of dark mud and water which I then proceeded to smarm all over my naked body. I was in my element and the great thing was that both Anastasia and Astrid were too. I continued to smarm and dirty myself and tried a variety of poses, some suggested by Anastasia and some by Astrid and some by me. It felt so nice and easy and connected. We were at one.
We finished off with an attempt to photograph plastic figures on me but it didn't really work. I think by then, we had exhausted our creative vigour and so we brought everything to a halt and I proceeded to flush an awful lot of dirt down the plughole of Anastasia's bath/shower.
As I always say - I love the shoot most of all and this was a special one because we were all in tune with each other - BUT then I got the photographs and this one leaped out at me from the computer screen. Anastasia liked it too as did Jane. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present the wonderful, the amazing, the stunning "Dirty Old Man" by the wonderful, amazing, stunning Anastasia Trahanas. Look me in the eye and say otherwise! You can't can you? It shows me standing up for myself, challenging the viewer but I am fearful as well so there is vulnerability too and one looks and one wonders and wonders and carries on looking. That is what Anastasia Trahanas is all about and I was the lucky beneficiary of it.
Monday, 17 June 2013
|WISE UP by Kenny McCracken|
I first met Kenny at Create Studios in Brighton when he helped Patrizia Burra to set up her shoot with me and we got talking and, as a consequence, I looked up his work online and I really liked his style. His style of photography I mean, although he is a very stylish person in other ways. He looks so cool with his white blond hair and his magnificent quiff and beard. I wrote to him after Patrizia's shoot and immediately he came back and said yes.
Kenny is a very organised guy - I suppose you have to be when you run a successful photographic studio - and on the day of the shoot, I arrived to find that everything was ready. He is a very good person to chat to because he has interesting things to say about all sorts of subjects. He used to be a full-time musician and periodically plays with a band to this day and so we were treated to some good music whilst we were there.
The shoot was quick and easy and we tried some clothed shots first and then I posed topless. I was pleasantly surprised when I received the images from him. First of all, I loved the silvery tone to the pictures but then, the more I looked, the more I saw. My crooked mouth, the default mode of which is downturned due to my condition. Also, the tiny crease in my skin on the left hand side of face just below the crooked bit of my mouth. My late sister, Janet, had little creases behind her ears, something I noticed on her death bed (although I had seen them before). I said goodbye to the creases as well as to her strong straight nose, her little flat mouth and the bony hands which had encased her head only a week before as she sat in her chair in the hospice, feeling miserable and ill. Why is all this relevant? Well, because the more I am photographed and I examine the person I see, the more I understand about whom I am and where it all comes from. Janet and I were quite similar in looks and thoughts and my daughter Florence is the same and she identifies with Janet most of all amongst her many aunts and uncles.
Kenny knew nothing about my relationships with these people but he was astute enough to search for (and find) something true in me which was the character inherited from the father I never knew but passed on by him to Janet, Florence and myself and which comes through so vividly in his shots. He works very quickly but he doesn't miss anything as one of the very best portraits taken of me clearly shows.
Friday, 7 June 2013
|HOLDING ON by Patrizia Burra|
It was her beautiful smile which I noticed first. It was full of warmth, friendship and love and yet we were meeting for the first time. How could that be? Well, it is easy to explain. Patrizia Burra is as passionate a person as her wonderful photography suggests. She instils her work with a love of the medium certainly but also with a love of life, a love of her fellow human being and a clear understanding of what is good in this weird world of ours. One only has to look at the images on this page to realise this.
When I saw her work on her website (after it was featured in Professional Photographer magazine), I knew that I had to write to her and tell her how much I loved it and to ask if she might consider photographing me even though I knew that she lived and worked in Italy. She replied the same day saying that she would be pleased to come to England to photograph me. I was so pleased. We corresponded at length and gradually began a countdown to the day of the shoot. I had such high expectations of the shoot that I suppose there was a danger of disappointment. No way. First of all, I met her very handsome husband, Corrado, whose kind eyes told me, in one glance, so much about them both (that is Corrado and Patrizia - not his eyes) and then I went to find Patrizia and was met with her smile and then her slightly awkward words of greeting - awkward because she doesn't speak English very well. They suggested that we went outside so they could smoke and we could get to know each other better which we did but it was too late. I knew enough already to realise that I could throw myself into the shoot with complete abandon and trust that the images would be stunning. I did and they were.
I told them that Patrizia was the 250th photographer to photograph me and I felt very emotional as I did so because I suppose it is a sort of milestone. Also, I had wondered from time to time whether I ought to stop at 250 and say to the 250th photographer "you're the last one" but I knew that it wasn't going to happen - I enjoy the shoots far too much.
We returned to the studio and Kenny McCracken helped them set up the lighting and eventually Patrizia was ready and I took off my clothes and she directed me as to what I should do mostly with a large piece of white gauze material. She was very business-like and knew exactly what she wanted but every so often she would stop and smile with the sheer pleasure of it all. It was a very carefree atmosphere but at the same time, very professional. After we finished, I took them back to our house and introduced them to Jane and we all went down to the local cafe for a snack. They then took their leave of us and so ended a magical day but not the magic itself which reappeared with the images which Patrizia sent to me. I was so very impressed and moved because they were produced with the same love and care that she applied during the shoot. I knew very quickly which one was my favourite and Patrizia approved of that as well as the title which, in fact, was suggested by her. I love the way the light catches my face in such a way that suggests a real innocence (and, yes, Patrizia, tenacity too), a real clarity of purpose and thought and love for the world and this life. I think that it says much the same about Patrizia.
So, there we are,"Holding On" by the one and only Patrizia Burra. A beautiful person with an adorable husband and a huge amount of talent. What more can you ask for?
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Monday, 3 June 2013
Thursday, 30 May 2013
Monday, 27 May 2013
This is from Vanessa's new series of photographs for her book "She Dances on Jackson" and isn't it beautiful? There is a great article by Sean O'Hagan on these pictures in The Guardian.
Vanessa photographed me as long ago as 2010 and this is the post. She is consumed by her passion for photography and believe me, every shot is considered and mulled over and then, eventually, 'click' that decisive, delicious moment when she packs it away into her camera. She takes it all so seriously and then she turns to speak to you with a smile that ripples through you with warmth and love. Look at this woman above - look at the knowledge, the wisdom, the intellect in her eyes and imagine the look in Vanessa's eyes coming back the other way. Now that is communication.
Thank goodness that there is a Vanessa Winship in this world and that one day many years ago she decided for the first time that she wanted to take a photograph. 'Take' seems to be the wrong word - it is a gift.
Sunday, 26 May 2013
2nd June 2013 will be a special, special day for me. That is when, first of all, I shall be opening the exhibition of some of the photographs from Over the Hill at Farley Farm Gallery which is in the grounds of Farley Farm, the former home of the late, great Lee Miller. But, even more exciting is the fact that it is a joint exhibition with Jane, whose wonderful paintings will be on show.
I have written about Lee Miller before and also about Jane and so I shall leave you to look at those posts again if you wish. All I shall add is that Jane has been an absolute rock in a very difficult place and yet....and yet she has produced some astounding work. How? Because she is a brilliant artist and it is all there bursting to come out onto the canvas. Why? She has this urge to communicate her ideas, her comedy and her passion for life and art.
Sometimes, I sit near her at home and look at her and I imagine all the little cogs and wheels in her brain turning over at a hundred miles an hour or revs per second - well, very fast anyway - and then, suddenly, her eyebrow lifts and another idea has formed in her mind and a few weeks or months or possibly days later, that thought finds itself in a piece of brushwork on a canvas in her studio. She is an incredibly generous partner, a mother with an infinite capacity for love, a woman in every sense of that word and an artist of enormous power.
Jane Andrews at Farley Farm every Sunday from 2nd June to 31st July. Don't go for that walk, that drink at the pub, that Sunday matinee at the cinema, that visit to Granny, that trip to Ikea, that couple of hours in the study to complete your tax return, that Garden Centre, that coffee with your best friend, that weekly shop at Sainsbury's, that hour in Fitness First or those few hours in the office just to catch up (I'll let you into a secret - you never will). Go to Farley Farm to see Don't Look Back by Jane Andrews and feast your eyes. Then tell your fellow rambler, the guy in the pub, the usherette, your grandmother, the cashier in Ikea, the Inland Revenue, the trees, your best friend, the person behind you in the queue at the supermarket, your personal trainer or your secretary all about it.
Monday, 29 April 2013
|YOU'RE SAFE WITH ME by Sarah Lee|
Just about every week, I come across a great photograph in The Guardian and I ask myself, "Who is this by?" and, almost without exception, I find that it has been taken by Sarah Lee. What is it about Sarah's work that makes it so enjoyable? I think it is the softness of the image; the love and care that has been invested in the taking and developing of the picture; the connection between photographer and subject; the knowledge and experience that she has built up over her successful career. And yet, after she had photographed me, she looked again at the other photographs on this blog and said that she felt a fraud in the face of all the breathtaking imagery that I had commissioned. I have encountered similar reactions before by some photographers but Sarah could not be more wrong and I told her so but, even then, although she thanked me for my reassuring comments, she commented that she felt I was prone to being kind in general. Now, I would like to discuss this briefly lest any other photographers feel the same. I am often accused of being gushing when I comment on my photographs and that may well be correct...to a point. However, I feel that no self respecting artist will ever be fully satisfied by what he or she has done and often will be highly self critical which is as it should be and it is not for me to dwell on the negative and certainly it would not be fair or appropriate for me to analyse photographs critically as I am not a photographer myself. Of course, I have opinions about photographic work but I am a very positive person and I am fortunate to be so and, therefore, my tendency is to look for the positives in anyone's work. But that is not to say that my opinions and critiques are questionable. Indeed, I do feel I have been very honest in my assessment of the images in the Project. So when I say that Sarah is a GREAT photographer, not only do I mean it but also it is true.
It must also be mentioned that I wrote to Sarah as long ago as 2009 asking if she would like to photograph me because I loved her work so much; I did not receive a reply but apparently that was because the email went to her office computer and disappeared under a welter of emails and goodness knows what. Four years later, Luke Dodd, the curator of my exhibition at The Guardian Gallery proposed that I be photographed by one of the Guardian's photographers and suggested, to my sheer and utter delight, that Sarah took this on. And take it on she did. I travelled by tube to Mornington Crescent and it was not long before I was shaking the hand of a large rotund woman with greasy hair and rotten teeth - wrong flat. I found the right flat and was met on the threshold by very attractive open faced woman with eyes of the brightest blue set off by short blond hair, twists of which curled prettily in front of each ear. We shook hands and Sarah introduced me to her charming little dog, Frieda, (whom, I was informed, has a penchant for men) and then offered me Apple and Cinnamon tea and we chatted a bit before Sarah set up a black backdrop against which she took some headshots using both her large heavy digital camera, the make of which I forget (if I ever knew it), and a recently acquired and much loved Leica digital camera which Sarah quite rightly said emitted a far more pleasant whirring sound as the shutter clicked at the defining moment. We decided to go outside as well and do some location shots which we did on the stairwell of her building, through a pub window and, finally, along the canal at Camden Lock. It was these last shots that Sarah enthused about, particularly those with my eyes shut which felt weird as, by then, the effects of my medication were beginning to wear off. But, dear reader, please look at the images above and below and tell me that they are not superb. You cannot because they are superb in every way. The gentle sweep of the sun over my face brings me forward into the viewer's consciousness prompting various questions. Who is this man? Where is he? What is he thinking? Anything or nothing? What are the blotches of light behind? Who cares? We do because, by virtue of her innate skill, Sarah has ensured that we do, that we engage with the person we see before us.
Afterwards, we returned to her flat over looking the rooftops of Camden and had tea and biscuits whilst Frieda looked on longingly, not at me but at the jammy dodgers balancing on the arm of the sofa on which I was sitting - so near and yet so far. We talked (that is, Sarah and I talked - Frieda was otherwise engaged) about photography, Phillips Roth's Nemesis and the various versions of songs with the title "Over the Hill" by John Martin, Loudon Wainwright and Annie McGarrigle until it was time for me to leave. I tickled Freda's ears one last time, kissed Sarah goodbye and threw myself off the balcony and floated down to the street below using a white handkerchief as a parachute. That last bit was a lie - I took the lift - but, as I walked away, I noticed a spring in my step. I had just been photographed by Sarah Lee.
I received the photographs from Sarah the next day and, whilst thanking her, asked her if she remembered whether I had proposed a title for the photograph. I thought I had but she could not recall my doing so but did suggest one of her own - ''You're safe with me''. And I was too.
Friday, 26 April 2013
Picnic by Lee Miller
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
Years ago, I saw this photograph in a Sunday Supplement and I was transfixed. Some people are born uptight and out of sight, some people achieve that state of being and some have it thrust upon them. I have no idea where mine came from but I was uptight and out of sight for many years until Jane got her teeth into me and slowly I unwound myself. Underneath, I was fine. I never took any drugs but I loved getting high on life, love, nature and film and so, when I read about the effect of drugs, I felt somehow that I had been there and that I knew what it was all about. Of course, I knew nothing but I had something coursing through my veins making my toes curl. So, when I saw this photograph, I knew it was about the inner me. It is so beautiful, so natural, so free. I fell in love with it and I fell in love with Lee Miller.
Fast forward a few years to the computer on my desk at work. I used it only for legal work but eventually, we bought a computer to have at home and, tentatively, I began to use it. One day, I typed "Lee Miller" into the search engine and my life changed forever. That sounds a bit melodramatic but it is true, in fact. I found that her house, Farley Farm, in East Sussex, was open to the public and so I booked a tour and one lovely warm summer's day, Jane and I went down to Muddles Green and, with several other people, we met Lee's son, Antony Penrose who gave a short illustrated talk about his mother in the hall of the house. Then he and his daughter, Ami, showed us around the house. The tour started off in the kitchen and we were shown a tile made by Picasso which was fixed to the wall behind the Aga and I remember thinking "Who cleans that with Jif?" Farley Farm remains a house, a home rather than a museum, even though it is packed full of wonderful paintings by Roland Penrose, Miro, Max Ernst and Picasso and photographs of and by Lee Miller and Man Ray. At the end of the tour, I felt my eyes were filled with light. We all reconvened in the hall and we were served with tea and biscuits by Antony's former nanny, Patsy, and I introduced myself to Tony.
I said how much I loved the photograph of The Picnic and that I thought I had seen another similar photograph taken on the same day a few years ago. Tony said that I had, in The Observer and, flashing that warm smile of his, he asked "Would you like to see some more?" I think it was Ami who scurried off and returned with a large book which she opened to reveal the original strip of negatives and the contact sheet of the piece of film taken that same day in 1937. It was like finding the Holy Grail.
Tony Penrose and Picasso
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
The following summer, I visited the house again with my niece, Olivia, and Tony recognising me, chatted in that easy, friendly, wide-eyed way of his. I see something of me in him in that we both believe in true love and we are fascinated by unconventional life styles. We met again, soon after I had been diagnosed with Parkinson's, when he came to Charterhouse School and gave another wonderful illustrated lecture about his mother's life and work. At dinner afterwards he talked to Jane about her work and I mentioned my project. Of course, we talked about his mother too and I realised that he was as much of a fan as I was.
Tony at Farley Farm
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
So how did this change my life? Well, I have always liked taking photographs but I was never really any good at it. However, once I was introduced to Lee Miller and her work, I developed a passion for Photography; not the craft or act of taking photographs but the meaning of Photography. I found that, if I walked into an exhibition of mixed media, I would head for the photographic images. If I visited the National Portrait Gallery, I would be drawn to the photographs rather than the paintings.
As I am a bear of little brain, it is not easy to intellectualise what it is about photography that grabs me. The nearest I get is that I am fascinated by the fact that a photograph is real in that it depicts what we actually see but at the same time it is unreal because nothing is ever frozen in time. This love of photography caused me to answer the advertisement to model for Graeme Montgomery which was the start of my project - the rest is history.
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
So I fell in love with Lee Miller but what is it about her and her work that I adore so much? Well, I never met her but I feel I know what she was like because her photographs are infused with her personality. There is humour (see the brilliant picture of the two models wearing masks); there is romance (see the image "A Portrait of Space"); there is courage (see any of her war photographs); there is compassion (in spite of her anger at what the Nazis did - look at the beautiful face of the young german girl whom, with her parents, has committed suicide); there is the unashamed display of her body (see Man Ray's gorgeous pictures of her). And there is deep depression brought on by the horrors which she witnessed during the liberation of Europe and which precipitated her decision to pack up all her photographic equipment and stow it away in her attic together with thousands of negatives some of which are only now being developed and made public for the first time.
A Portrait of Space
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk
In 2005, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. In 2006, I retired as a solicitor. In 2007, my project began and 240 photographers, four exhibitions, a piece on the Culture Show and articles in various magazines later, Jane and I were invited to exhibit jointly at Farley Farm itself. Can you begin to understand what that meant to me? I was so bloody honoured. I have no idea how cameras work. I could never be a professional photographer but I can say that I have worked with some of the very best photographers around - do you know how good that is? And, in doing so, I have collaborated with wonderful artists and we have used humour and romance and courage and compassion and nudity to produce some stunning images.
And so, on 2nd June 2013, Jane and I will open our joint exhibition "Over the Hill and Don't Look Back'' at Farley Farm - Lennon, Dylan, Miller, Penrose, Jane Andrews and me! I know, I know, I am not in their league but what acts to follow.
"Alright boys, this is it...over the hill"
© Lee Miller Archives, England 2013. All rights reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk