Tuesday, 28 June 2011

MERVYN PEAKE AWARDS 2011 - Part One

Jane and I have been invited to the Mervyn Peake Awards (http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/mervynpeake) in London on 8th July next and I have been asked to speak which is both a great honour and very nerve wracking. The slideshow of the photographs in the project will be on show at the Awards.

 It is the 100th anniversary of Mervyn Peake's birth and the 10th anniversary of the Awards. Mervyn Peake suffered from Parkinson's Disease and, after his death, his family instituted the awards in his memory.

DAME HELEN MIRREN
(Photograph by Giles Keyte)
I am proud and pleased to say that Dame Helen Mirren has given her support for the "Over the Hill" project and has said the following:-

"I have heard about Tim Andrews' photographic project “Over the Hill: A Photographic Journey”. As is well known, the plight of people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease is something close to my heart. This project and the exhibition of photographs at the Guernsey Photography Festival in June and the Mervyn Peake Awards in July are being supported by the charity, Parkinson’s UK, which works so hard to help people like Tim by raising funds for research into new medication and treatments and ultimately a cure. I wish Tim and the charity every success with the project and their endeavours to raise awareness of Parkinson’s Disease in the process."

 - Dame Helen Mirren  

Guernsey Photographic Festival

I was invited to exhibit some photographs at the Guernsey Photography Festival (www.guernseyphotographyfestival.com) which is running from 1st to 30th June 2011. In some ways, I was glad that the curator, Jean Christophe Godet (www.chrisgodet.com), chose the photographs to be exhibited because I would have found it very difficult to choose from the 141 that had been taken up to that point. I am often asked which is my favourite but it is like choosing my favourite Beatles' record i.e. impossible - one day I would choose ten and the next day another completely different ten. It would be the same with the photographs. However, the slideshow with all the photographs was also to be shown.
Anyway, once the choice was made, I had to then arrange for each of the chosen photographers to send a print to the Festival and they all did at their own cost which was very generous of them.
I was invited over to the Festival but I couldn't go to the opening because we were moving into our new house on the same day. I arrived on 9th June and they looked after me incredibly well for three days during which I stayed at the lovely Fermain Valley Hotel. Also, some very good friends allowed me, in their absence, to have the use of their house and car whilst I was there.
Over the hill

On the evening of the second day, I gave a talk on the project at Jean Christophe's gallery (www.thegallery.gg). I hadn't really prepared very well for the talk because of the move and a lack of computer but it went quite well overall. I started with Chris Floyd's wonderful film "This is Tim" and explained that, although it made uncomfortable viewing, it was honest and showed one side of Parkinson's Disease. However, as an antidote, I showed my own stop-motion film "Sigh no more" at the end.
Francesco Guisti, Beth and Jean Christophe

I met so many nice people over in Guernsey including Jan and Chris from the Caravan Gallery (http://www.thecaravangallery.co.uk), Francesco Guisti (www.francescogiustiphoto.viewbook.com) and his lovely wife and daughter,  the local photographers, Carl Symes, Adam Prosser and David Evans (each of whom photographed me whilst I was there), Vikki Ellis and her boyfriend and her mother, Lynn Williamson, the world famous and all round nice guy, Simon Norfolk, and many others whose names excape me but whom I shall remember with great fondness, and last but not least Jean Christophe and his beautiful wife Beth.
Chris and Jan in their Caravan Gallery



VIDEO





VIDEO







GLORIA IN EGG SHELL SEAS by David Evans

GLORIA IN EGG SHELL SEAS by David Evans
 As soon as I heard that David wanted to photograph me whilst I was in Guernsey for the 2011 Photography Festival, I was very excited having already seen his project on Tattoos which was also part of the wonderful work exhibited as part of the Festival. We met on 10th June, a gloriously fresh summer's day and he took me to the beach in his car and asked me to put on my trunks and wade into the gloriously fresh sea. To his credit, he followed and took this great picture - he wanted me particularly to stretch out my arms as if to embrace all the good and big things that are in my life now and ahead. I love body shapes and how the longer you look at photographs of limbs, for example, they take on a different appearance - as if they are not human or rather part of the human at all. I also love the contrasts in this image; the light and shade on the contours of my torso; the certainty of the arms being outstretched in worship to the sun and the confusion in my facial expression; the rounded thickness of my body and the flatness of the water. It is a great, joyous and life affirming image.

David and I chatted all the way to the beach about this and that but mainly about Photography and how he got into it and what he got out of it. We continued to chat during and after the shoot, over a coffee, and then all the way back to my hotel. A very self assured person and a really laid back intelligent guy with a great attitude to a life which clearly he fully embraced and enjoyed. It was no surprise to me to receive such a brilliant photograph a few days later.

                                                                           David Evans

EXHIBIT TA by Carl Symes

EXHIBIT TA by Carl Symes

I met Carl when he was helping out on the Guernsey Photography Festival and we immediately got on very well. In fact, he was one of the first people I met there as he came to the airport to meet me - so did someone else but that is a long and not very interesting story! He explained that he had decided to accept my invitation to photograph me whilst I was visiting Guernsey for the Festival and  told me of his idea to shoot me standing amongst the framed prints of the photos in my project but holding a frame so that I physically became part of the exhibition.

So that is what we did and this is the marvellous result. It is such a simple idea but it works on so many levels including, not least, the fact that it is a very good photograph. I did wonder what I was letting myself in for by allowing photographers to photograph me without having seen their work previously but I need not have worried as all three of the people who photographed me in Guernsey were excellent and produced very worthy additions to the project. Thank you for this one, Carl!

                                                                                                  Carl Symes

DIVER FOR PEARLS by Adam Prosser

DIVER FOR PEARLS by Adam Prosser

I met Adam when I went to Guernsey at the invitation of the organisers of the Guernsey Photography Festival in June 2011. I had made it be known that I was happy to be photographed as part of my project whilst I was over there. He works at the harbour and his idea for the shoot was to photograph me wearing the new, modern version of the old diver's helmet.  I said that was ok and we arranged it for the second day of my visit to the island. We tried several different locations but all within a short distance of the divers' quarters because the helmet was so bloody heavy to carry, let alone wear. It was a wonderful contraption and you can imagine it becoming an antique in years to come.



Adam described himself to me as a keen amateur photographer. Well, amateur he may be and keen he certainly but he is also very serious about his hobby and exceptionally talented as this photograph shows. It is a strange image but it works and stands up very well alongside the other pictures in the project. Apart from the crisp clarity of the shot, I really like the contrast between the chrome and yellow of the helmet and the still peace of the boats in the background. There could not be much, if any movement in the shot due to the weight of the helmet but Adam has very cleverly positioned the camera so that it looks like I am peering round the edge of the screen so there is some subtle humour as well.

I  am very pleased with this shot and even more pleased to have met Adam - a very good photographer and a very nice guy.

 Adam Prosser

HAPPY by Stefano Miraglia

HAPPY by Stefano Miriaglia

Oops! I answered an advertisement from Stefano on Gumtree - I say ''oops'' because there was a time when I was absolutely obsessed with looking for photographers on Gumtree and I made a promise not to go there again. However, I hope I shall be forgiven because, well look at this great photograph! 

Stefano is not a full-time photographer but he could be. The standard of his work on his website is extremely high and so it came as no surprise when he sent me the results of a very enjoyable shoot.

A number of people ask me to smile during shoots but it doesn't always work but this did. It was taken at our temporary home in West Sussex where we moved after selling our beloved Ravenswood. Jane wasn't so keen on this place because, apart from not being home, it was so isolated. But I adored it there and so the smile is genuine - not sure, however, that I was smiling about the house. I was more likely because I was enjoying the shoot. Stefano is good company as well as being a very talented photographer.


MY GULLIVER MOMENT by Alma Haser

MY GULLIVER MOMENT by Alma Haser

I saw Alma's work in her degree show at the Truman Brewery building in London in June 2010 and I was so impressed that I wrote to her asking if she would like to photograph me. She replied almost immediately saying yes and, even at that early stage, she suggested that origami figures should feature in the photographs. And so it turned out.

However, it was not until some ten months later, in April 2011, that we were able to meet and carry out the shoot. Alma travelled a long way from her home in Bradford on Avon to where we were staying in West Sussex. I had followed up her original idea with the proposal that we shoot outside as well as inside and also that we try to incorporate some of Jane's paintings. Jane was not particularly confident that this latter idea of mine would work and so it proved and, in the event, Alma chose three images consisting of me relating to numerous little orange origami boats which, in turn, both protected me whilst I lay on the forest floor and led me along the woodland paths. Alma felt that the boats represented a desire to get away and move on but, at the same time, they could also be found still, anchored in their dock - in other words they were a metaphor for the contradictory nature of the effect the illness was having on me. 



We also spent a long time on some polaroid and pinhole photography and, as the shoot moved on, I became increasingly impressed by her thirst for new ideas and her enthusiasm for experimentation.



I  loved the vibrancy and light in the resulting images one of which I had to choose to represent her inclusion in the project. However, it was very hard to exclude the other pictures, each one of which deserved to be championed. 
Alma works hard and is deadly serious about her photography - two assets which alone bode well for her future career but she also has a wonderful freedom of thought and great imagination which I have absolutely no doubt will assure her of great success and critical acclaim.

Alma Haser

NEW MORNING by Laura Hynd

NEW MORNING by Laura Hynd

On 22nd May 2010, I went to the dentist and, as I had done with Jo Metson Scott (see earlier post), I leafed through a magazine whilst I waited. I came across a portrait of Lauren Porter by Laura Hynd which I really liked. I borrowed the receptionist's pen and wrote down Laura's name and when I  got home, I looked up her website and saw her wonderful work. I wrote to her immediately and, just over a week later, she replied saying yes to a photograph. 

However, it took until March 2011 to set up a shoot, having failed to arrange a meeting during the intervening months. By then, she had embarked on her own project, "The Letting Go" which was similar to mine in that it involved asking her subject to photograph her. At that time, we were living in a beautiful house in the countryside whilst waiting to move to Brighton and the garden overlooking the vast empty fields was a perfect setting for self portraits which  I tended to take early in the morning when the sun was rising and the birds were waking up, making an incredible racket with their dawn chorus in which they were joined by the sheep and lambs in the nearby pastures. Therefore,  I suggested to Laura that we aim for this same time of day for our photographs. 

She arrived at about 5am on the morning of 25th March and she quickly decided to stick to the garden where she took this perfectly beautiful shot. It is beautiful isn't it? It looks so simple and quiet but the birds were singing franticly whilst my daughter was fast asleep upstairs trying to recover from pneumonia. Jane was in India in the general direction of where I am facing. One of her favourite albums is 'New Morning' by Bob Dylan and so that is an appropriate title for the image.

Laura was great company that morning - She worked hard and concentrated on each shot so much that she would rub her hands together whilst she considered carefully what she had  set up before asking me to pose. I think she used a Hasselblad - whatever it was it was thick and chunky and made a heavy clunking noise as she clicked the shutter.; each click being full of thought and purpose. We finished the shoot and I accepted her invitation to photograph her with glee as it meant that I could hold and use her lovely camera. She had already shot me lying in the daffodils so I asked her to do the same but  I guess they never came out because I have never seen them nor are they on her website. I  must have been shaking a bit too much. 

We had some tea and warmed up in the kitchen and chatted. Then she left.

Sadness. Smiles. Gentle. Natural. Hands. Near and Far. These are the words to describe my time with Laura that new morning.


Laura

INSTANT CALM by Tess Hurrell

INSTANT CALM by Tess Hurrell

I came across Tess Hurrell's work through Karen Knorr (see earlier post). I saw that she had been part of a group show with Karen, looked up her website, liked what I saw and so contacted her asking if she would like to be part of my project and she answered almost immediately saying that she did.

Unusually, we did not meet before the shoot even though she works at a studio in North London very near to the studio where I have worked with Liz Orton a few times. She said that she was currently involved in a series of portraits but worked quite simply so that either we could work at the studio or anywhere.  The studio it was and Suzanne Plunkett also came along to photograph the session.

Tess and me by Suzanne Plunkett

It was a lovely, lovely day not only because of the weather but also because Tess was so easy and everything was calm and peaceful and she worked in such a flowing way that I felt I was drifting in and out of her lens on the lightest and fluffiest of pillows.

I adored the two photographs she sent me and even more exciting, she indicated that she would like to work with me again - a chance at which I would jump.



I am so very glad that I contacted her and something of what I had seen in her other work was transmuted to me and my photograph is quite simply, beautiful. I feel so honoured to work with people of her calibre.

TIM x 3 by Richard Brimacombe

TIM x 3 by Richard Brimacombe

Richard is a very old friend of mine - we used to be partners in the same firm of solicitors. He has been a keen amateur photographer for many years and I was pleased to be able to ask him to take my photograph and even more pleased when he agreed. He has been through something very similar to me in that he was forced to retire through ill health and has in many ways enjoyed a new lease of life as a consequence.

I am continually surprised and touched by not only the willingness of people to photograph me but also the extent of thought they put into the exercise by coming up with wonderful ideas. Richard was no exception.

His idea was to replicate Van Dyck's famous painting of Charles I in three positions but, in my case,  to show three facets of me - Tim the Actor, Tim the Lawyer and Tim the Friend. He admitted that he was not used to doing something like this but wanted to have a bash.



Well, I think he has done it brilliantly. Again,  I really enjoyed the shoot and it was very relaxing as we know each other so well. I wore a suit and tie which  I used to wear every day for work but not so much now. As the actor,  I put on my Roger A  Destroyer (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N57ZWDjqh04) outfit including glasses, cravatte and false plastic moustache. When I received the photograph  I really liked it but  I had some misgivings which  I felt  I could share with him but, when he did not reply immediately, I wondered if perhaps I had been a little too frank. Nevertheless,  I included the photograph in the slideshow which I prepared for the Guernsey Photography Festival and when I picked up the BlueRay disc from Soho Transfer in London, I watched it through first and was delighted by this picture. It really did fit and work well with the others and suddenly all my criticisms flew away. 

So, many thanks Richard. You are a true friend, an excellent lawyer and a very talented photographer! Richard x 3.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14952999@N02/

OUTSIDE IN by Paul Groom

OUTSIDE IN by Paul Groom

I was introduced to Paul by Alsion Tebbutt of the charity, Parkinson's UK. She wanted to do a feature on my project in the Parkinson magazine and she asked Paul to come down and take the necessary photographs to accompany the article. He also wanted to photograph me as part of my project and so, after scouting some interior and exterior locations at our temporary home in West Sussex, he decided on two and this is one of the exterior shots. 

I think it works extremely well - it is very well composed but it has a message. I am wound up and restricted by my illness but the look on my face confirms that I am not defeated and with a bit of creative thought and humour, it is possible to overcome these obstacles. 

My other favourite photograph of Paul's is shown below. I love not only the fact that it features one of Jane's glorious paintings but also, I like the way that it sits right next to me but I am not obviously engaging with it. I do very much relate to and engage with Jane's work so that element is not true but then one doesn't always have to hold or look at something directly in order to engage so long as you can feel and/or sense its presence and its power and allow it to have an effect.

Trussed and Me

Thanks Paul for some great images and taking the time to  be an important part of my project.

NAKED TIM by Paul Stuart

NAKED TIM by Paul Stuart

I wrote to Paul in January 2010, following the publication of his great photograph of Julie Walters in the  Guardian Weekend magazine. He  was very keen on the project and asked to see some examples of the work already done so I sent half a dozen photographs to him. He then suggested that we meet and we did, a few days later at Holborn Studios in North London. He is such a nice guy and very friendly too and he repeated that he would very much like to take my photograph.

Sure enough, just over 12 months later, he did! That is not meant to be a criticism  but to show how busy he is and also that he keeps his word. 


He agreed to Suzanne Plunkett coming along to photograph him photographing me (at Holborn Studios just before another shoot) as she had begun to do and he said that he wanted to photograph me in the nude but first of all, he would photograph me getting undressed. It was a very friendly chatty shoot and so thoroughly enjoyable. Afterwards, as with a number of the professional photographers, he sent me one image and this is it. Not necessarily the most flattering photograph but that is not really the point. To me it shows the real Tim, with Parkinson's, unafraid of showing his body and upright and strong in the face of the illness. It is a brilliant photograph - very simple, nicely stylised and yet it says so much. Thanks, Paul. You are a great photgrapher. 

Me and Paul by Suzanne Plunkett


Monday, 27 June 2011

LIFEBLOOD by Jayne Dennis

LIFEBLOOD by Jayne  Dennis

If there was a prize given to the photographer who produced the most laughter during a shoot,  Jayne Dennis would come second. No, just my little joke - she would win. This was great fun. 

I contacted Jayne after coming across her work through the London Association of Photographers website after looking up the entry by Sukey Parnell (see earlier post). I wrote to her on and, sure enough, two days later she deigned to reply - bloody nerve. She originally was based in London and we tried to arrange a meeting but then she pissed off up north but never mind, after some lengthy correspondence, we decided to go straight for the shoot and she suggested somewhere much more convenient for that - Newcastle. So it was that a 59 year old disabled man took the train, a short walk, then the tube, another short walk, then the train, another short walk and finally a taxi to the Banana Studios in Newcastle. But, it was worth it.

She had some initial ideas for straight nude portraits but then we started to look around for props in the studio and found, amongst other things, a trampoline, a length of rope and a team of huskies. That last one was a lie but we did talk about another shoot, so you never know.

I told Jayne of the difficulty I had had with "playing" with the silk given to me by Mohir during my shoot with him (see earlier post) and so she kindly asked me to try to repeat the exercise but this time, it was more successful as you can see from this brilliant photograph. It was difficult to choose just one shot for the project but, in the end, it had to be 'Lifeblood'. Since then, it has reached the finals of the Julia Cameron Awards and is now in the finals of the PX3 Prix de La Photography Paris. When Jayne told me of this, she referred to the image as "our photo" which l thought was very generous of her but l suppose all the photographs are collaborations to a greater or lesser extent.

                                                                               I wasn't joking about the rope......

It was a very jolly day and Jayne proved what a fantastic photographer she was. Afterwards, she very kindly gave me a lift to Newcastle Railway Station going the long way round and then l returned home via the train, a short walk, tube, another short walk, another train and finally a lift home to Ravenswood from my own lovely Jane at the end of a long but very satisfactory day.

                                                                                             ....or the laughter.

http://www.jaynedenniscreatives.com/

Saturday, 25 June 2011

FROSTED GLASS by Sarfraz Manzor

Sarfraz Manzor was introduced to me (via email) by the photographer,  Liz Orton (See earlier post). I think they had met through an article he had written in the Guardian G2 Magazine about a PhotoVoice project in which she had been involved. She mentioned my own project to him and, to cut a long story short, he became interested in it and made pitches for features both on The Culture Show and in the Guardian Weekend Magazine hopeful that one would be taken up and it turned out they both were.

He came down to where we were living temporarily in Brighton over Christmas 2010 and interviewed me and Jane for the Guardian. He came across as a very nice chap. We talked about the forthcoming filming for The Culture Show and it may have been at that point or maybe later that he suggested that he photograph me as part of my project and that that could be part of the film.

So it was that he came to Colgate in West Sussex and interviewed me for the show and photographed me. His idea was for me to hold a piece of frosted glass up partially covering my face to signify the blurring of  my brain by Parkinson's Disease. I cannot show you the resultant photograph because he has never sent it to me but there is a section on the Culture Show feature (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd4jOWzMyx8) showing him taking some photographs.

I shall always be grateful to Sarfraz for the consequent publicity for the project and through this the continuing raising of awareness about Parkinson's.

http://www.sarfrazmanzoor.co.uk/

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A NEW DAWN by Pal Hansen

A NEW DAWN by Pal Hansen

I saw Pal's great photograph of John Cleese in a Weekend Newspaper supplement and I loved how he had captured the elderly statesman of comedy but with a twinkle of youth in his eye. Ove the years, I have often been told that I look like Cleese. Some people seem to enjoy linking one with a celebrity - I suppose we all do it on occasion but I don't really get why celebrities are celebrated so much.

Anyway, I wrote to Pal and received a charming heartfelt reply in which he explained that his grand mother suffered from Parkinson's Disease for 40 years and that, therefore, he had seen the changes that the condition can impose on people. He said that his experience was less uplifting than my own.  He suggested that we exchange emails and wait  for this correspondence to trigger ideas. Eventually he wrote saying:-

''I truly admire you for your approach and way of dealing with it and want to show that through imagery.  My visual idea is to show you as a someone who flourishes and shine in a situation that many would find dark and unbearable.  I would like to suggest that we find a forested area in the winter time.  A time when all trees are bare and the landscape is dark and grey.  I imagine photographing you amongst the bare trees and dark landscape.  The major challenge for you is that I imagine you to be bare like the trees and the landscape.  The slight warm tones of your body would bring you out of the dark/dead nature and show you as a lease of life in the dark surroundings.  You being naked in a naked forrest also shows the vulnerability of the human body, how we are all from nature and how nature shapes us.  You mention that the Parkinson Disease has given you a new positive look at life and I hope that you and the natural skin tones would be representable of this whilst the dark, bare surroundings serve more as a visual reminder of my experience of the disease and maybe how many would take such a diagnostic.  This would mean that the shoot itself would have to take place in the evening or morning (dusk/dawn) and that you would for a short while be naked in the cold''

I was very touched by the thought and time he had put into formulating these ideas. By then, we were living in temporary accommodation in rural West Sussex so we had the perfect location. At the same time, I was dealing with Sarfraz Manzor for his feature on my project for The Culture Show. The director was Maurice O'Brien who asked if he could film me being photographed for the programme and Pal kindly agreed. 

                                                                               Maurice O'Brien and his crew

I had never met Pal before but I liked him immediately; he was tall and handsome and had kind and caring eyes. Maurice and his crew soon after Pal at about 7am by which time Pal, his lovely assistant Ryoko and I had inspected likely spots for the shoot.  So it was that we all trooped down to the woods where I shed my clothes in the cold dawn and this amazing photograph was born. Pal was very anxious to keep me warm but, in a weird and wonderful way, I like suffering for art. All the while, Maurice filmed and, at odd intervals, he stepped forward to interview both Pal and myself. After an hour or so, Pal had to leave to catch a plane.  I was sorry that we had not had longer to get to know each other and that our bond had been somewhat punctured by the presence of the film crew but I do hope we meet again and maybe work on more photographs. 

                                                                                              Pal Hansen

http://www.palhansen.com/