|AN OPEN BOOK by Rekha Garton|
I first saw Rekha's work showcased in the Professional Photographer Magazine in early 2011 and she replied positively to my standard email (the basic form of which has not altered in 4 years) exclaiming her excitement and asking what type of photograph I was looking for. She explained that she had just been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and so had to wait a few weeks for her body to recover before she could do anything. Well, it took longer than that partly due to our move and all the work to the house but we kept in touch and eventually we met on 24th February 2012 in Norwich. She was accompanied by her very handsome boyfriend, Matt, who also happens to be a very nice person.
Matt drove us, quite swiftly but safely, to a field a little way out of town where Rekha took some pictures of me with paper darts flying around me. Then we moved onto another field and she shot me holding an umbrella which she intended to use to make it appear that I was floating up out of a teapot. Then she photographed me with my coat open which she was then going to alter to include a book. I was reading the enthralling biography of Frances Partridge at the time so we used that which was rather appropriate and much better than using any old book. Finally, she took some photos of us both together.
We went back to her place and I met her charming mother and I showed her and Matt some of my silly YouTube films before they set me back down in Norwich. I had a bite to eat and then looked round the very impressive cathedral. I didn't stay too long. At one point I looked around and wondered what it (Christianity) all meant to me now. Not much, I began to think but then I looked at one of the modern pine chairs in the Nave and, strangely, I could feel myself sitting there and I found the feeling comforting. I wrote to Rekha about this experience and, writing this a few weeks afterwards, it occurs to me that meeting Rekha was a spiritual experience itself. She has experienced illness at a very young age but there is a simple beauty (not just physical) about her and her manner that is very uplifting and easy to tap into. She seems very fond of Matt whose gentle demeanour is probably just what she needs now. Yes. It was a very therapeutic encounter which has come as a surprise.
In some ways, therefore, the photographs are almost incidental. Nevertheless, they are uniformly excellent. Initially, I chose another shot for my project but Rekha preferred the one with the book and I was cool with that. The title chose itself really - I am an open book or, at least, I reveal more of me than ever I used to.
And what of Rekha, the photographer? Well, see for yourself. I don't have to say anything do I?
Me and Rekha
See her work: http://www.flickr.com/people/_rekha_/
Friday, 24 February 2012
|DRESSED by Charlotte Rutherford|
Sometimes one comes across a young artist who is so different from anyone else and has such an eye for what he or she does that the work they produce is as simple and as natural as breathing. One such person is Charlotte Rutherford. I found her work on Flickr and immediately I sat up and took notice. She has a rare talent that searches for and breathes beauty of colour, softness, love and life into her subjects.
Of course, I wrote to her and hoped that she would say yes.
The first words she said in her prompt reply were that my project was such a beautiful and great idea – so it was a yes! It is great to have such compliments thrown at me but I have to say that the idea is only beautiful and great because many wonderfully talented photographers, so different from each other, have also said yes and have imbued the project with their respective characters and love of the photographic art.
Charlotte and I corresponded over a period of months before I arranged a double shoot in her home town of Norwich in February 2012. She met me at the railway station (mm-mm) and we walked through the town to her studio in a complex of studios (surprisingly, all the other studios were empty whilst we were there). Charlotte is quite tall and very engaging and was a delight to be with for the next few hours. She had created a little montage in her studio comprising some wild (and some plastic) flowers, red top hat with rabbit and some candles and other bits and pieces and she asked me first to sit naked next to it.
She then asked me to put on a very colourful but very old fashioned dress on – she had bought an extra large version – and I posed facing her surrounded by flowers. This is the one she chose and I love it. The colour, the tone, the gentleness, the composition – all just as l had hoped....and more!
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
|DEADPAN by Muir Vidler|
I was recommended to contact Muir by Pal Hansen and, even though by then I had been photographed by the likes of Rankin, Jillian Edelstein and Steve Bloom, I really felt that with Pal and Muir, I was now firmly entrenched in the world of expert photographers. I should emphasise that that is not in any way meant to denigrate those other esteemed photographers but rather to honour both Pal and Muir.
Muir agreed immediately to photographing me but it was some months before we met at the door of his studio in Hoxton Square from whence he took me to a local cafe for a drink and a chat. We got on very well and it wasn't hard to understand how he and Pal were friends; they are both gentle people with a certain spark of something inside and they clearly have a keen interest, a curiosity, in their fellow man. Well, we agreed to meet soon and so we did and again it was a very easy-going, relaxed experience. People have said that a number of the images in my project are quite theatrical and maybe they are but I like the quieter, more subdued photographs just as much and they tell a story too. Most of the photographs taken by Muir that day are very composed and well, just easy.
I received the photos from Muir when, at the same time, he wrote explaining that he had just returned from sunny California to the somewhat less pleasant climes of East London - it was in the middle of weeks of rain. I pointed out to him that perhaps not all was bad because I had heard from a member of my family who lives on a street in Bethnal Green which, according to the local police, has 82 working prostitutes plying their trade, that one can get a blow job for five quid! I suggested that that must be cheaper than the going rate in California. I hasten to add that I have not savoured the felatic delights on offer in either country and I am sure the same goes for Muir but I digress.
Of course, the pictures received from Muir were superb and it was a difficult choice to make. Muir favoured this one with the glasses because he liked the deadpan expression and so I plumped for his choice in the end. I don't know quite what it is about Muir's work that I like but it is as if he has stroked the image softly with a special brush and he has done so with love and care which makes you feel "mmmm" and want to curl up in a corner with a cup of tea and "To the River" by Olivia Laing and let the taste of the tea and the glorious poetry of Laing's prose wash over you. He has a magic touch.
Thursday, 9 February 2012
|MY CHARLIE CHAPLIN by Maja Daniels|
I am afraid that I cannot recall exactly where I first saw Maja's work but I think it was in a Sunday or Saturday supplement and then I went on her website and was blown away by how good she was. Anyway, it led to me writing to her in October 2011 asking if she might consider photographing me. She replied almost immediately saying that not only had she seen my project mentioned in the press but also that she was Zed Nelson's partner. Zed had photographed me in the garden of their flat only a month before.
There was then a gap but, in the meantime, we met at the Taylor Wessing Awards Private View and I am not sure if it was there that she told me that, when Zed photographed me at their flat, she was in fact upstairs lying low. I wrote again in January 2012 and she confirmed that she was still keen to work with me and explained that she was so interested in me and in what I was doing that she wanted to be sure to do it right. I found that so moving because she is a top photographer and to think that she was giving me that sort of consideration very much surprised me but then she is a serious artist and a very nice woman as well so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised.
We set up a date for the shoot and she asked me to bring a quirky hat with me and some white braces and to think Charlie Chaplin. I travelled up to her flat in London on 9th February and we chatted a fair bit until we got started with some shots inside. It was then that I asked if Zed was upstairs this time and she said that he was! Then we went into the garden and Maja took several shots including this brilliant one. As with Zed, she only sent one picture after the shoot but, if you get as good an image as this, you don't think of what the others might be like. She explained that she preferred the exterior shots and she felt in this one I looked quite strong but yet, like Chaplin, there is a darkness haunting me and it almost feels like the branches are coming for me.
I was so pleased with this and it just shows what a great photographer Maja is. It is a very strong image with beautiful contrasts of colour and it captures a moment when I show a depth of feeling in a life full of fun and games. She had the intelligence and skill to discover this about me in our long chat beforehand and then brought it to the fore so adeptly in the photograph. I am so impressed every time I look at this.
After Maja had finished, Zed came down and said hello!
P.S. Maja engages - that's what she does.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
I love my body at the moment.....it's not that I think it looks good (according to whatever criteria one uses to define a good looking body)........it's just that it is all I've got but this bloody disease is chipping away at it and I am hanging on to what physicality I still have.......and maybe that is why I do so much photography and filming in the nude...........well, partly why...........I do feel that clothes make statements which is fine but a body is just you, unadorned.......and it says so much more.......no I can't tell you what more it says for I am a bear of little brain...........
Pooh stopped suddenly, so suddenly that Piglet did not realise he had stopped until he got that cold feeling on his left side that comes upon you when the warmth of a walking companion is no longer next to you. For a moment, Piglet thought he was having one of his TERIFYING DREAMS and his ears began to twitch but then the sound of Pooh's voice reassured him
''My body'' said Pooh ''is all hairy''
''Sssscary?" stammered Piglet as his ears began to twitch again but even more than last time.
''I wonder why....'' mused Pooh.
Piglet felt that his friend needed an answer as to why his body was SCARY but he was in no position to assist as he could not bring himself to look at the HORIFYINGLY AWFUL body that Pooh had suddenly slipped into without any warning.
''But even it is hairy......(and horifyingly awful thought Piglet).....I like it being hairy'' said Pooh and he carried on walking past Piglet who was lying on the ground with his eyes covered.
"Hhhairy?" stuttered Piglet.
But Pooh wasn't listening. He was thinking up a song about bodies.
''I AM HAIRY, HOW DO YOU DO?
I AM HAIRY, WHAT'S TO DO?
I AM HAIRY, HOW ABOUT YOU?"
Pooh stomped on trying to think up new words as he made his way through the forest but then stopped suddenly as he felt that cold feeling that you get when the warmth of a walking companion is no longer next to you. He looked back to see Piglet whistling in an unconcerned way as he nonchalantly picked himself up from the floor with his cheeks looking a bit pink but otherwise the right colour everywhere else.
"What rhymes with "DO"and "YOU"?"
"You do" said Piglet.
"How clever you are!" said Pooh and Piglet felt his chest puff out as he ran to catch up his friend and even walked a bit ahead of him to show that he was brave as well as clever.
"I AM HAIRY AND MY NAME'S POOH!" sang the bear who had a little brain but luckily had a hairy body that he liked almost as much as he liked his clever friend.
But, for the time being......I take my pills and my body just about works normally.......and I dance and pose and I swim and run.........so I'm ok for a little while longer.......with my beautiful bloody broken body........