Wednesday, 17 December 2014

ONE OF THOSE DAYS by Sophie Harris-Taylor

ONE OF THOSE DAYS by Sophie Harris-Taylor
I stepped off the bus, crossed the road but went too far and so, realising my mistake, I walked back and found Sophie's house. It was Victorian with a solid front door. I remember it as being pale green but perhaps not. Sophie came to the door and welcomed me with a smile. So many smiles.

We had discussed the shoot previously by email - Sophie said she wanted the photographs to be raw. She took me into her sitting room at the front of the house which overlooked the road and set up a black backdrop. Black as night but nowhere to hide. We talked and I removed my clothes and stretched and curled first on the black and later against the white wall. Sophie paused to show me some of the images in the back of the camera. My eyesight is so bad that all I could see was the light. It was beautiful. "I love skin" she said. Skin.


We moved into her kitchen where the light was different. I bent my head. I placed my hand on the work top playing music in my head which washed through to my fingers resting on imaginary keys. I gazed out to the small courtyard on the other side of which Sophie planned to create a studio. It was cold but I offered to go outside so that she could photograph me there. In the event, it was Sophie who stepped out and she shot me through the window. She returned to the kitchen and pushed kitchen clutter to one side as I stared at the lens - click - and then looked away - click.


Then it was over. I felt that familiar tinge of disappointment mixed with a grudging acceptance that comes at the end of every shoot. I dressed. I showed Sophie some of my films on her computer. Then I took my leave and caught the bus. I thought of the shoot as the bus lurched towards Clapham. Sophie, it was all so easy. You were easy. I was easy. 

She does not prettify bodies, she illuminates them and in the light, she scratches over the skin like sand paper on wood revealing the grain.  The human spirit is there, the pulse beneath the skin, the breath welling up from lungs pushed out past nostril or lip. She stands back and observes, slightly detached, from a doorway, through a window, across a room. I catch her eye. I know what she is doing and she knows that I know and I know it too. The light is all. As Sophie said afterwards, in terms of overtone, this image has a more documentary, honest and voyeuristic feel and the strong light feels quite cinematic which is something she is always striving for in her work. It all works so wonderfully well.

One of these days, 
When we are both at our ease
When you've got time to please yourself, 
See what's right and see what's there
and breathe fresh air, ever after.
                                 - Paul McCartney


Thursday, 11 December 2014

TIM ANDREWS: AFTER BOTTICELLI by Alicia Bruce

TIM ANDREWS: AFTER BOTTICELLI by Alicia Bruce


Alicia must be one of the nicest people I have met. She is very genuine and open and with an exciting and infectious enthusiasm for all things photographic. I first came across her beautiful work through Twitter in December 2012 - I think I must have followed someone and Mr Twitter then kindly suggested l might also be interested in Alicia and, when l saw her work, l was and wrote and told her so. She replied with the aforesaid enthusiasm saying that she would be delighted to be part of this remarkable project. It would not be the last time she would use that adjective in relation to me and my project but l am not so remarkable although l would accept that the project is - it is full of remarkable work by remarkable people. I am an ordinary guy who got an illness that affects many ordinary people and I have dealt with it as best I can, sometimes well and sometimes not so well. The drugs boosted my creativity but at the same time produced rather worrying side effects. Rough and smooth.


Anyway, back to the remarkable Alicia. She explained right at the start that her work was a collaborative process with those she photographed and was often based on artworks from public collections. She said she would ask me to be involved in the planning process as much as possible and that we could choose a painting which draws parallels with me and aspects of my personality and use this as a starting point fro my portrait. She said that she would be happy to shortlist with me but equally happy for me to make suggestions. So you can see that she is a person who knows what she wants and makes that quite clear.


Simon, Sylwia, Me, Alicia & Laurence


There was then a thwarted attempt in 2013 to travel to Edinburgh to meet Alicia as well as some old photographic friends but the thwart was my Parkinson's which had got steadily worse and so I decided very reluctantly not to go. I felt so sorry but Alicia and the others were very understanding and the trip was put on hold until December 2014 when I found myself with a beating heart outside Lovecrumbs cafe. I pushed the door open and was met with a table of smiling faces belonging to Sylwia Kowalczyk, Simon Crofts, Laurence Winram and Alicia. Sylwia very kindly bought me a hot chocolate and they all seemed as pleased to see me as l was to see them. 

Me by Alicia Bruce


In the cafe, Alicia and I chatted a bit more about the shoot and agreed to proceed with her idea of Botticelli's Venus. It was lovely to meet her and in the company of the others with whom I enjoyed such a beautiful friendship and, when we all left the cafe, I gave each of them a big hug and Alicia walked back with me to the centre of the city and she pointed out various landmarks and took a few pictures. This is what I love about this project - spending my time having these experiences and meeting people in this way. The next day I had a very enjoyable shoot with Lucy Kendra (see future blogpost) and I had hoped to see Lucy Telford and Brogan Ramm the day after but the weather was too bad to make the journey and Alicia texted and suggested that I went to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and also Stills Photographic Gallery. I am so glad that I did both. At the Portrait Gallery I saw some wonderful paintings by Allan Ramsay and bought some great Christmas presents in the shop. At Stills I saw the amazing photographs by Chloe Dewe Matthews in her "Shot at Dawn" exhibition. 


Finally, on the morning of 12th December 2014, I arrived at the studio a few miles down the road from my hotel and met Alicia again and her assistant for the day, Craig Yule. They had already set everything up and really we had the picture we wanted in the bag pretty quickly. We looked at a few in the back of the camera and, although my eyesight is not brilliant, I could see that the colours were stunning. We tried a few more with me altering my pose slightly - Alicia had pinned up a copy of the painting to help with that - and that was it! Alicia produced a Christmas hat and we mucked about with that doing a few silly shots and then I said goodbye. As I left, I plugged in my earphones and the beautiful sound of Brian Wilson's voice washed into my head like a silver sea.

Who took that look away
I remember how you used to say
You'd never change 
But that's not true 
Oh, Caroline you

Break my heart,

I want to go and cry
It's so sad to watch a sweet thing die
Oh Caroline why


Alicia asked me to comment on the collaborative process and it was the case that we discussed various options beforehand and we enjoyed the to and fro but how much influence I had on the final outcome I don't know; I think that is for Alicia to say. All I can say is that I think the portrait is superb. I love the contrast of the blue and my pink skin. It is not an exact copy of the painting- I am looking straight at the camera with a slightly fearful, apologetic gaze, I am a man and there is no shell - but it was never intended to be a copy and because of that, Alicia has in fact very cleverly created something unique albeit influenced by an original work. Furthermore, she wanted my portrait to be a subversive homage to the original work. It is no wonder that she is held in such high regard in photographic circles.

Me and Alicia in conference by Craig Yule


So there we are. I have been photographed by Alicia Bruce, a great photographer and a very nice woman. How many people can say that? Probably quite a few and they almost certainly feel as proud as I do. 

WEBSITE: http://www.aliciabruce.co.uk/

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

STAIRWELL by Lucy Kendra

STAIRWELL by Lucy Kendra

It was raining and it was cold as I stood outside waiting for Lucy. I had not seen her since my last visit to Edinburgh when we ate meringues the size of Saturn with Claudine Quinn in a cafe near what is commonly known as The Pubic Triangle. I was nervous because I love my Edinburgh friends so much and each time I go up there, I wonder if it will be as magical as the first time. I know I shouldn't think this way but I do. I put pressure on myself and them and the situation but sometimes you do silly things when you are in love - even if it is with a city. That said, I need not have worried as Lucy was as I remembered her - pretty, amusing, warm, amusing (again) and cool. Her idea was to photograph me in the stairwell of the building where she worked because the filtered light had a lovely quiet glow to it. First, we went into the room or rather, studio, where she worked which was stocked with all sorts of photographic equipment - lights, tripods, reflectors, screens, cables, cooking foil - cooking foil? Lucy and I looked at the foil and then at each other and then at the foil. We realised at that moment that the foil would feature heavily in the morning's exploits.



We had a cup of tea and then ventured out into the stairwell but Lucy found almost immediately that it wasn't going to work in the way she had envisaged as the sun was not bright enough outside. I think it was me who then had the idea of sprawling on  the stairs as if I had been attacked. Lucy liked the idea and so I positioned myself head first down the stairs. I love doing these silly things. The stairs were in constant use but everyone who came by, stepped past me very carefully and seemed quite accepting of the whole scenario.

Then we returned to the studio for more tea and got out the silver foil. I undressed and wrapped myself in the foil. I looked like something out of Doctor Who. We took a few photographs in the studio before venturing out into the corridor to the lift which we then commandeered for some more photographs. Fortunately, I couldn't see much otherwise I might have brought a halt to the silliness. We then returned to the studio where I removed the foil by performing the first foil striptease ever seen in Edinburgh to Caro Emerald's song "A Night Like This".

Lucy and me

Lucy and I had a beer I think it was the following night and we talked and we talked and we talked and we laughed and then we toddled out into the City and went our separate ways. A lovely shoot, a lovely friend and, now, a lovely photograph. What more could I ask for?

LUCY KENDRA ON VIMEO: https://vimeo.com/user9616349

Friday, 5 December 2014

HOME by Tereza Červeňová


Home. I am fortunate enough to have a home to come back to, where I can relax and be me. Often, when I have been out for the day, I come home after dark and I look through the window to see if Jane is there and, if she is, I feel a warm glow of love, affection and companionship. This may all sound a bit sugary and soppy but it is true. There really is no other way of putting it. Home is where your family is and where you are surrounded by your things such as your books and pictures and photographs. Everything is familiar; everything holds a memory.

Tereza's family home is in Slovakia. She talked to me about her home and her family and, in particular, her brother, with whom she has a very close relationship. So, it is not surprising that she took this picture. When I first saw it, I felt quite emotional because I recognised myself immediately. What Tereza had done was capture me where I am the most like the real me - at home- and she did that because she loves her family and they love her and because we had met previously and talked a lot about each other and, on the day of the shoot, we just continued that conversation. But not many people could translate all that into the feeling expressed in this shot. Tereza is an extremely talented photographer.

I had seen her work in 2013 in the Taylor Wessing exhibition for which she was shortlisted whilst still a student at Middlesex University. Her photograph, "Sisters" is reproduced below. 


I loved the light and the trust shown by the three girls; it is a beautiful picture. So, I had absolutely no hesitation in writing to her asking if she would be part of my project. Eventually, we met in the Barbican Centre  - her idea was to photograph me there which surprised me as I thought we were just going to meet for a chat. It is interesting waiting for someone you have never met before - as each person comes in, you think "That could be her.." but when Tereza came in, I knew it was her straightaway. Maybe because she came up to me and said she was Tereza and I must be Tim. Seriously, she is quite tall and slender and she was wearing a long black coat. She looked like the person who took her photographs. Well, we talked for well over an hour and agreed that she would come down to Brighton for the shoot. We arranged a day in December 2014 but then at the last minute, she had second thoughts because it was just before Christmas and there were other small problems but I managed to persuade her to come as planned and we were both so pleased that I did because we had a lovely day talking about various things and, at the end, as a special treat, I showed her some of my silly films. Lucky girl!


The photographs were taken on a film camera and so it took a while for Tereza to get them scanned but it was well worth the wait. I really loved the light and the connection which was borne of her sensitive personality. The pictures were all very gentle. Like Tereza. She is gentle but she is also someone who is determined to develop her skills. I know that she will continue to grow to be a supreme artist and it is nice to think that perhaps, one day when she is sitting with her grandchildren looking through her old photographs, they will ask "Who is that man sitting looking out of the window, smiling? What is he smiling about?" and she will answer "Oh, what was his name? Oh yes, Tim" and she will smile too. "Why is he smiling? Well, he's smiling because he is thinking about his home and all the things and people in his home which make him happy".

WEBSITE: http://www.terezacervenova.com/

Monday, 1 December 2014

MY TIME HAS COME by Jacqui Booth

MY TIME HAS COME by Jacqui Booth

............and I said to Jacqui as we made our way back to her house,
" I have always wanted to be photographed on a railway track...". 
She looked at me and smiled. 
"There is one on the way home" 
I smiled back.
"Let's go and have a look" she said.
And we did.

As it was a Monday, the line was closed and so there was no danger of being run over by an old steam train. Nor was the Fat Controller on duty. We reached the railway and passed through the gate leading to the pedestrian access over the line. A couple of schoolchildren and a man with a dog walked over the track to the gate on the far side throwing cursory glances at a photographer and her model further up the track, the former with a camera and the latter first crouching and then lying on the sleepers. I thought about lying with my head on the track and even of undressing but my nerve failed me and anyway, I thought being clothed would be a better shot. And it was. The hand says it all. It rests gently on the cold metal as I stare blankly up to the grey December sky. The last dregs of the fading light catching my skin and highlighting the different blues of my clothing that contrast so beautifully with the stones pressed down between the concrete sleepers. Luck has been defined as when preparation meets opportunity and what a stroke of luck this was.  We were both ready and took our chance.

I had come across Jacqui through Twitter. She had a quirky way about her that was very appealing. I saw that she was a photographer and asked to see her work and she referred me to her photostream on Flickr. The pictures there spoke to me of a love of life and an interest in things whether they were stones balancing on others or insects - they seemed to remind her of important thoughts and feelings and events in her life. Each one had a resonance. Eventually, we arranged a shoot on 1st December 2014. Jacqui met me at the railway station. She looked slightly awkward and shy but that wore off pretty quickly as we walked to the building where the shoot was to take place. We talked some more and then got started. The first shots involved some wool which was twisted around me in a full body version of 'cat's cradle'. Then we went into the garden without the wool for a few headshots and afterwards, we went round the corner to a huge deserted church next to two beautiful town houses and wandered into the churchyard where I quickly undressed and posed against the beautifully old stone and flint walls. 

By then, the light was going and it was at that point I mentioned the railway shot. 


The shot above of my legs is beautiful and I love the light on my face in the close-up below but I had to choose the railway shot for my project didn't I?




Look again at the hand on the track. Wonderful. These were all part of one of the most inspiring set of photographs I have ever received. They all had something - something loving and earnest and real. You cannot just pretend to be like that, you have to feel it in your bones as Jacqui does.

We have talked of working together again. Yes please.




Thursday, 27 November 2014

TIM by Phil Fisk

TIM (still from film of same name) by Phil Fisk

TIM: https://vimeo.com/130036649
I love films. My mother used to take us to the Hendon Classic or Temple Fortune Odeon or The Ionic in Golders Green  to see wonderful films like David Lean's "Oliver Twist", "The Man who loved Redheads" (starring David Niven), Walt Disney's "Old Yeller" and "The King and I" (her favourite) even though we did not have two farthings to rub together. We often used to arrive late and, in those days, you could stay in the cinema and watch as many showings as you liked, so we would stay and see the bit we missed but it was a little confusing to a six year old boy to see [SPOILER ALERT] Old Yeller get shot dead at the end and then miraculously recover to star in the next showing. Six-year-olds are so much more aware these days.

So, when Phil suggested a short filmed moving portrait, I said "yeah, ok, if you want". No, I was thrilled and you would understand why if you saw his website which contains some wonderful work. I came across Phil when he started following me on Twitter so - good old Twitter. We chatted to and fro by email and then he called me and said that he had found a location in Broadstairs and we arranged a date of 27th November 2014 and I booked my train tickets to Margate where I was to be collected. He asked me to bring a white vest and white pants. 

I enjoyed the journey from Brighton to Ashford International and then on to Margate. The countryside was bare but Kent looked rich and fertile under the grey sky. It was fairly mild but I wasn't bothered what it was like really as I was nice and snug in my train - what a way to travel. I cannot remember if Phil or one of his colleagues collected me from the station but the journey to Broadstairs was quite short and I was fascinated to see where we were shooting. It was a very old house in a short terrace off one of the main roads leading to the beach, full of atmosphere and memory. Apart from a short break for sandwiches, we worked all through until it was time for me to leave and catch the return train from Margate. We filmed in most of the rooms - Phil had a pretty good idea what he wanted from each shot and was clear in his direction. H e had set up everything the day before. He is a very nice man whose manner is gentle and warm but, at the same time, he was firm in his instructions to his crew, Adrian and Rory, who both worked hard and conscientiously throughout the shoot and were very friendly and considerate to me. 

This project is magical. I see something I like in someone's work. I ask them to photograph me. Sometimes, as with Phil, they say yes. I meet them, work with them, get to know them and I go home with a glow of friendship in me and then I get a film like this. I cannot pretend to know what it is about; maybe nothing but it has a narrative feel and a lyrical quality and I love the balloons in the background bouncing around like brain cells desperate for some dopamine to put them right, poor sods. It moves slowly, gently, like a wide river; it has depths which you comprehend the more you watch it and, if you are with someone, you turn towards them and you smile. Because you get it. 

WEBSITE: http://www.philfisk.com/

 


Saturday, 8 November 2014

ONE FROM THE HEART by Nandita Lovage

ONE FROM THE HEART by Nandita Lovage


You wouldn't know it but this photograph was taken within a couple of goalkicks from White Hart Lane - you know, that place where Tottenham Hotspur beat Chelsea 5-3 on New Year's Day? That fact is almost totally irrelevant so far as this photograph is concerned except that when one is photographed in a place which has so many happy memories, it must have some affect on the portrait. I think it geared me up for a wonderful shoot with the beautiful Nandita Lovage and her handsome boyfriend, Cesare. 

I had found Nandita's work through the Portrait Salon and a link to Emma Taylor in 2012 and slowly but surely we communicated and eventually met in 2014 to discuss this shoot. We did not talk about the specifics but had a general chat in order to get to know each other a little better. We later spoke on the telephone when Nandita asked me to think of some paintings I liked that we could project onto my body. I went away and thought about this and sent her several examples but they were mostly figurative and possibly said more about the poses I thought I might adopt rather than what would look good being reflected on to my body. Fortunately, Nandita had better ideas involving the wonderful blazing colours and shapes to be found in paintings by Chagall and Turner and that is what we went with on the day of the shoot. 

The shoot took place on a Saturday in a small building which Nandita had a personal connection to when she was little and so that meant she was also in a place physically and emotionally that was full of happiness and good memories. We tried various paintings and went from me sitting naked on a stool to standing and then back to the stool again. We looked at some of the images whilst we worked and it was clear that the few figurative pictures used were not as effective as the landscapes and more abstract works. Although I had had some inkling of how the pictures would turn out, I was still very pleasantly surprised by how good they actually were especially this one. I really like my stare into the distance but whereas some stares into the middle distance look just like that - a look into the middle distance - somehow my look has much more meaning in that it appears to be directed at the viewer even though I am not looking straight at the camera. There is wistfulness to it but it is not in any way devoid of strength or challenge. It still engages and throws back a statement of intent and resolve. I shall survive and I shall live my life. I love the shadow behind me - almost as if the old me is there, not hiding but supporting the new version.

Nandita worked very methodically and inclusively in that, as we looked at the images, she was always concerned as what my thoughts were and willing to listen to suggestions. It was a simple idea of hers beautifully constructed and with such great empathy shown towards her subject even though we had known each other only for a relatively short time.  It is a skill that makes the difference between a good photographer and a great one and Nandita is certainly the latter. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A BLOODY NOSE by Stuart Harper

A BLOODY NOSE by Stuart Harper

I met Stuart when he assisted Laura Pannack on my shoot with her in October 2011. It was a very jolly shoot and Stuart and I got on quite well and so I asked Laura if she could send me his contact details which she did and I wrote asking if he would photograph me and he replied very promptly saying yes. And what do you know? Three years later he did photograph me. In the meantime, we communicated on Twitter mainly about football ( he supports Arsenal and I support Tottenham Hotspur) and also, he started following my Parkinson's Blog, "TODAY, I CUT MY NOSE SHAVING", which was precipitated by me actually cutting my nose shaving - that's tremors for you! He liked the title of the blog as he felt moved by the fact that even something as simple as shaving could become dangerous for someone with Parkinson's. 

Well, it took a while to arrange the shoot but, eventually, Stuart came down to Brighton with a polaroid camera and took a number of shots in different parts of the house but he left the bloody nose shot for the end. I think we both had some doubts as to whether the shot would work. I wondered whether it was still relevant any more as my tremor had almost completely disappeared since my surgery in May 2014. I'm not sure what misgivings Stuart had - maybe it was just that, with the passing of time, the idea had become slightly dated. He had brought some fake blood with him and dabbed it onto my nose and allowed it to drip onto my chest. We looked at the photograph together afterwards and then looked at each other and then back at the photograph again and then we both smiled. It really had worked. And then, when I received this later by email, I was so pleased. The colours are so rich; the blue/green of the background, the brown of my skin and to top the lot, the dark red of the fake blood all of which combine so well but what lifts it up onto another level is the pose which Stuart requested from me. It really fixes the viewer and yet it is not straight to the camera which in itself says so much. The gaze is directed beyond the viewer and says "So bloody what?". 

It really is a superb photograph from every point of view and I commend Stuart for sticking to his original idea and then executing it so brilliantly. When he sent it to me, he said that he hadn't scanned the other photographs he had taken that day but he felt that this - the last shot he had taken on the day - was the strongest. A very nice guy and an exceptionally good photograph.




Friday, 24 October 2014

EMMA CRITCHLEY Part Three

It was dark. She sat patiently waiting for the final glitches to be sorted out. She spoke quietly but that made me even more alert to the words with which she described the ideas that 
she transposes so eloquently into her photographs and her films
All the while as she talked I thought of the exhibition
at Regency Town House that I missed
If you ever see an exhibition 
by Emma Critchley
advertised
DO NOT MISS IT
Emma
illustrated 
her talk by showing
 still photographs and films
I was utterly entranced by her work 
The work that I thought I knew so well and
yet I realised that I knew nothing The film "Aria" was simply 
one of the most beautiful pieces of moving images I have ever seen As the notes soared 
into the darkness of the Fabrica building the body of the swimmer flipped and cut through the
water as if it were flying. It twisted and turned and I felt tears well up as I turned and and twisted with it.  

The film "Heartbeat" featured a woman standing under water with the beat of her heart connected somehow to a strobe light. Emma explained that the longer you stay underwater the slower how heart beats. Wih every beat the light flashed up a silhouette of the model's body and as the film progressed the beat got slower and slower until you thought it was the end and then... another beat.........and another 

This work is of the highest order. It all comes from Emma's deep love of water or her love of deep water and her incessantly inquiring mind always searching for new ways to express what lies in her heart

I am so privileged to have worked with her

I am so privileged to know her

She is a supreme

artist


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Over the Hill comes to Brighton

BEAUTIFUL DECAY by Danielle Tunstall

Over the Hill comes to Brighton!!

56 still photographs and 8 films from my project will be exhibited as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe at Create Gallery New England House, New England Street, Brighton from 4th to 17th October next. The exhibition will feature the work of mainly Brighton based photographers although there will be a few exceptions including the stunning image shown above by Danielle Tunstall; she lives in Leamington Spa which, as we all know, is just round the corner from Brighton. Oh, alright it's not but, for God's sake, rules are there to be broken.

The exhibiting photographers are:-

KANDY ACKLAND
JOSIE AINSCOUGH
JOAN ALEXANDER
TOM ANDREWS
JANE ANDREWS
SILVIA ANGUELOVA
VALDA BAILEY
ALEX BAMFORD
NICOLA BENFORD
MAEVE BERRY
MICHAEL BIRT
STEVE BLOOM
HENRIETTA BOWDEN-JONES
ADAM BRONKHORST
STEPHANIE BROOKS
 JEAN-LUC BROUARD
HEATHER BUCKLEY
ALUN CALLENDER
MELISSA CAMPBELL
EMMA CRITCHLEY
ELEONORA D’AMBROSIO
SEB ECKSTEIN
CHRIS FRIEL
GARY GILHOOLY
STACEY HATFIELD
CLARE HEWITT
JULIA HORBASCHK
VALENTINA LARI
JACK LATHAM
JAMES MACDONALD
INNIS MCALLISTER
KENNY MCKRACKEN
GRANT MCLEAN
KEVIN MEREDITH
KIRSTY MITCHELL
JUSTYNA NERYNG
ERIN O’CONNOR
HOLLY OLIVER
CLARE PARK
TOM PETKUS
JO RENSHAW
SIMON ROBERTS
LUCA SAGE
KRISTINA SALGVICK
MARTIN SEEDS
TOBIAS SLATER-HUNT
JIM STEPHENSON
GENEVIEVE STEVENSON
JO STOWELL
JAYNE TAYLOR
JO THORNE
DANIELLE TUNSTALL
VICI WATKINS
JO WONDER
LISA WORMSLEY

And films produced by the following:-

JOAN ALEXANDER
CHRIS FLOYD
STACEY HATFIELD
CLARE HEWITT
KAREN KNORR
OSCAR LATORRE-BOSCH
ROY PETERSEN
ALISON PALMER


Thursday, 9 October 2014

THE MISSING PHOTOGRAPH


Me and my father

My father was Stanley Andrews born on 20th April 1903 and died on 27th October 1953, aged only 50. I had been born only two years before his death and so I have no memory of him at all. Up until today, I had no photograph of him and me together until my twin sister Sally sent me the photograph below of family and friends including me (being held by Auntie May) my father (standing behind me) and my twin (wriggling in the arms of my mother). 

By all accounts, my father was a brilliant musician. He played mainly the fiddle but could also play the piano, the trumpet, the saxophone, the ocarina, indeed any instrument. He had perfect pitch - the singer Lizbeth Webb told me before she died that, when he was being treated in Westminster Hospital, she went to visit him. She was wearing a set of earrings with little bells hanging from them. She leaned over to kiss him goodbye and one of the bells tinkled and he said "E flat!". He was a superb arranger and often he would work through the night to arrange a tune for a full orchestra and have it on the music stands the next morning having only been given the score the day before. He played with some of the most well known British "swing" bandleaders of the time including Jack Hylton, Jack Payne and Jack Jackson. He also worked with "Hutch", Stephane Grappelli and Vera Lynn. To my utter delight, I learned recently that he played with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on some of the Goon Shows. He wrote music too and we have a 78rpm recording of his tune "Sparks Fly Upward" which Joan Alexander used as a soundtrack to her film of me "Shadow Study: Nocturnal Journey" which can be viewed at Create Gallery in Brighton until 17th October 2014.

(left to right) Sally, my Mother, Mrs Revie, Auntie May, Me, 
my Father, Mrs Roberts, Pat Revie, Cousin Ian Auntie Dorothy

Before he died, he said to my mother "Please tell them all about me" - 'them' being his five children Janet, Anthony, Sally, me and Corinne the eldest of whom, Janet, was only 8 years old when he died. My mother did as he asked and, looking back, it seems there wasn't much because she used to trot out the same old stories but, of course, the same old stories say such a lot. For example, he loved the film actress, Jennifer Jones, and he would storm through the front door and say to my mother, "Get your coat on - Jennifer Jones is on at Hendon tonight". Apparently, he would travel miles to see her say "Help me" in whatever film she says "Help me"; I think it was "Portrait of Jennie".

My Father

I grew up with mainly a feminine household as my brother went to boarding school obviously to return for the holidays but even more so because I hadn't had a father, I found it difficult to relate to older men. If I ever met the parents of school friends or, later, girlfriends, I found it easier to relate to the mother than the father. However, gradually, as I began working as a solicitor meeting clients, it became less and less of a problem. Once, many years go, when I was working at the theatre in Chichester, a man came up to buy a coffee. He looked like my father and he stared at me and I stared at him. It was quite spooky. Someone once put up their hand in front of me and said "This is your father; what would you like to say to him?" and I burst into tears because it felt so real as if he was actually there.  

I don't think about him an awful lot but he is important to me and I shall never forget my mother's stories. He and I are alike in many ways - we share a love of the cinema, I get flashes of hot temper as he did, I am no musician but I love music and it can make me cry. It made him cry too. I have at home a scrap of music manuscript paper with a dried teardrop on it; it fell on the paper as he listened to Vera Lynn singing "Christopher Robin is saying his prayers''. 


I would have liked to have known him, to have played with him, talked to him so that I would know how to have played and talked to my own son perhaps better than I did. But maybe because my mother spoke about him and I have inherited some of his genes, I didn't do too badly.
"Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred."
Pooh thought for a little.
"How old shall I be then?"
"Ninety-nine"
Pooh nodded.
"I promise," he said.

So, here is the photograph of him and me. At last. 


Saturday, 4 October 2014

A Private View



A Private View

Whisper it in the breeze,
As it rushes through time;
Say it in the way you smile,
As you swallow your wine.

This gamut of emotions
Which teaches us each day,
Each hour, each minute to learn
How to kneel and to pray.

I found tonight true friendship,
So simple, so pure;
I discovered its hidden secret,
Its mysterious allure.

So come, follow me,
Come join the wars of the past.
Fill up those heaving body bags
Until it is over at last.

I am too tired to elucidate.
How much time is left to me?
All I can do is write these words
And count from one to three.

Whisper it in the breeze
As those who came before have done.
Say it in the way you smile,
As you swallow the crumb.

Take of my shoes, my socks,
My crumpled suit and tie.
Begin to play as we used to

When we had no need to die.




Thursday, 2 October 2014

MAKING IT OVER THE HILL by Roy Petersen

Still from MAKING IT OVER THE HILL by Roy Petersen
Roy was introduced to me by Julia Horbaschk who sent me a link to his documentary film work which was very professional and very impressive. We all met and discussed the possibility of Roy making a documentary about the Over the Hill project including filming some of my shoots. Also, he was interested in the movie films which I make and put out on You Tube and Vimeo. Fortunately, a number of photographers agreed to Roy being present and, in fact, he is so discreet that we hardly noticed he was there.
Julia, Me and Roy on Southwick beach
Finally, he came to the beach at Southwick near to where Julia Horbaschk photographed me and I shot my film “Proms on the Beach” with her help. There he interviewed us both after I had what must have been the worst smoothie I’ve ever tasted at the café near the beach although the staff who work there are extremely pleasant. We had a lot of fun on the beach to make up for what had landed in our stomachs shortly before and Roy sped off on his push bike to begin the final edit of what has transpired to be an excellent film and a wonderful memento of the shoots and films featured on it.

Roy Petersen certainly knows his stuff. He is also a very nice man.

WEBSITE: http://www.royzoner.com/ 
FILM ''MAKING IT OVER THE HILL'': https://vimeo.com/107647102

Sunday, 21 September 2014

AN APPRECIATION - Julia Horbaschk

OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk
There was a young woman 
called Julia
Whose surname was rather peculiar
It began with an H
and ended with K 
If you can pronounce it, well, Hallelujah!

Seriously, though, there is a young woman called Julia who has been assisting me with the organisation and curation of the Over the Hill exhibition at the Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe. I wouldn't say that I could not have done it without her help but that her help has been absolutely invaluable. She has worked tirelessly at a time when she has had a lot on her plate with moving, looking for a new job and various other activities that she tells me about but, as I don't listen, I can't tell you what they are. No, seriously, she is involved with the Arts Forum and the Big Screen on the Beach in Brighton.

Her background is marketing and this has come to the fore as she has set up an interview with BBC Radio Sussex as well as with three TV stations including BBC South. She has also secured sponsorship with Bang & Olufsen in Hove where the manager, Mike Sparkes, has been incredibly helpful by lending us two super duper televisions so that the nine films being shown at the exhibition can be seen to their full advantage. She has also arranged for 4Print & Design in Hove to produce 1,000 flyers free of charge as their contribution to the event.

She is clever, resourceful, hard working, positive, intelligent and an excellent photographer as the above image shows. 

Julia

So, Julia Horbaschk, thank you for everything!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

UP ON THE ROOF by Melanie Manchot

UP ON THE ROOF by Melanie Manchot
It was in June 2012 that I first discovered the work of Melanie Manchot. She seemed to be so interested in people and yet placed them in unusual settings e.g. in the bath, on a roof, in a forest - not unusual in themselves but there is rarely a conventional portrait. I found that very refreshing and exciting too. 

We met upstairs in the Boundary Cafe in Shoreditch a few months later where we talked about me being photographed up there but then "things" intervened and it wasn't until early 2014 that we began talking seriously again about the photograph. This time though, I wasn't going to miss out and so we made a date in the summer but then I had to cancel due to my patient programmer being adjusted following my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery in May. In the meantime, Melanie had found another location in Peckham which sounded perfect. so, on a beautiful late afternoon on 3rd September, seventy five years to the day after we declared war on Germany, I was photographed by this fabulous German photographer on a roof in Peckham! 

When I arrived at Peckham Rye station, it was almost five o'clock and the place was buzzing as people rushed hither and thither like ants disturbed in their nest. I got a bit lost and so Melanie came to find me. Of course, I hadn't seen her for two years and so I wondered if I would recognise her but then this smiling face appeared from the crowd and advanced towards me with her arms outstretched and walked straight past  - it wasn't her. No, seriously, she did appear from the teeming mass of people just released from their places of work and hurrying home by foot, cycle, skateboard, bus and train and we hugged and kissed after I had made sure it was her, of course. She took me to Bold Tendencies on the very top floor and introduced me to her assistant, and then explained what she wanted to do. She had set up a table, the top of which was level with the parapet wall and said that she wanted me to stand on this with the City of London as the backdrop. The view was amazing and I couldn't wait to get started. 

We tried various stances and she was very pleased with all of them. I suggested that perhaps I could be a bit more dynamic and she was happy for me to try but, for some reason, I felt a bit too self conscious and so I wasn't particularly confident that they would be any good. However, I do feel that, if I have an idea like that,it s always best to say so because, now and again, it could work. That said, it doesn't happen very often and that is why I am the model and not the photographer because it is the photographer who sees what will work so much better than I can. And, boy, did this work. As Melanie herself has said, it has an interesting tension. It is a stunning photograph. I am up here looking down on the city I love. I am safe. I am sound.


When I was at University in 1971, Carole King was at her peak. I bought her album"Tapestry" and it is full of wonderful songs. I went to the original Virgin record shop in Tottenham Court Road and in one of the cardboard boxes used to display the records, I found an earlier album of hers, "Writer" the last track of which was "Up on the Roof". I remembered that I had heard it before sung by a guy called Kenny Lynch. I bought the record and took it home and played this track to death. The roof is a place I often go to in my mind where I just only have to wish......(I'm wishing)...........to make it so.   

WEBSITE: http://www.melaniemanchot.net/

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

WHAT DOES THE LION SAY? by Antonio Olmos

WHAT DOES THE LION SAY? by Antonio Olmos

If you log onto the website of Antonio Olmos, you will see some of the most beautiful of photographs. 

This photographer is a genius because he dives deep and he searches for and he finds a jewel but he knows that, if he dives even deeper, he will find the real treasure, he will find the real truth, the real essence of the man sitting before him. How does he do this? What special power does Antonio have? He doesn't. He is a human being like you and I. But he knows that the more he discovers, the more the man sitting in front of him uncovers. He takes hold and he leads his subject along this path of discovery and he opens him up for all to see. Look at this photograph and tell me I am wrong. 

After the shoot, Antonio sent me sixteen photographs saying that he could not choose between them. I looked at each of them and then looked again and again but I could not decide. It was like that scene in the wonderful film by Wayne Wang, "Smoke", when Harvey Keitel's character shows William Hurt his album of photographs all taken at the same spot at the same time each morning with the camera pointing in the same direction. "But "says Hurt,"They are all the same". Keitel replies "Look again, my friend". I looked again and although the shots were taken at different times and in different locations, slowly I began to see each of them on their own merits.  Finally, I looked at his one which was, in fact, similar to several others. But this one had a spark. There is a glint in my right eye. A glint of hope. It says "I am moving forward. I have made a discovery today. About myself. I am Tim. All is revealed''.


I was recommended to Antonio by the lovely Sarah Lee and it took me a long time to get round to contacting him. Sarah took my photograph in April 2013 but I did not write to Antonio until February 2014. He wanted to come to Brighton to photograph me but he said that he was a nice guy and pleasant company and he promised me that he would not be a pain in the ass. Well, I delayed seeing him until after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. He admitted that he was worried that I had gone off the idea of him photographing me. We set up another date for him to come to Brighton. In the meantime, however, my son Tom had had a serious back operation and was at home recuperating with us but experiencing post operative complications so I asked Antonio if he wouldn't mind if I came to his place instead. He agreed and I am so glad he did. 

I arrived and we had a coffee and a chat. The house was empty as his family were away. He took me outside and he asked me to sit on a chair in different parts of the garden. At this point it all felt quite serious. He asked me to take my shirt off. All the time, we talked and slowly our companionship grew as we each revealed more to each other about ourselves. He said that he was pretty sure that he had got the shot he wanted but suggested we go to the park nearby. The park was almost empty and we wandered around and he asked me to stop at various points and he photographed me with my shirt on and with it off. At one point, I lay on the ground and he asked if I minded him straddling my prone body for the shot. 


Eventually we made our way back to the exit and then he pointed to some long dry grass bleached by the sun. He asked me to sit in the middle of it. Then he looked around and I knew what he was going to ask."Can you take your clothes off?'' he said. I was worried that this was a public space and that we might be seen. He assured me that hardly anyone came to the park at this time and any case he would keep an eye out and warn me if they did. I took off my clothes and lay down as he requested with my hand on my thigh. Then he said I could get dressed which I did extremely quickly as he admitted that this was his first male nude photograph. I felt quite proud. We returned to his house but he wasn't finished. He took me upstairs and photographed me some more and I am pretty sure that the photograph I have chosen was taken at this time.

So you see, he thought he had got the shot he wanted in the garden. But we both discovered that there was more to come. It is this that I find so wonderfully exciting. I was tempted to choose the nude shot - it reminded me of a lioness resting in the prairie grass. It is a beautiful shot but the one I chose eclipses it. 

And he was right  - he is a nice guy, a very nice guy and pleasant company, extremely pleasant. He is Antonio Olmos, photographic explorer and genius.


WEBSITE: http://www.antonioolmos.com/




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

FROM THE EARTH by Claire Nathan

FROM THE EARTH by Claire Nathan

I have a niece, Amy Samantha Andrews, known to me and everyone as Sammy. She is charming, pretty and kind and utterly adorable. She decided that she wanted to learn more about Photography and when she was performing at a wedding (she has the most beautiful singing voice), she went up to the photographer and asked her if she could help and advise her with regard to this new pastime. The photographer agreed to help and they became friends in the process. The photographer was Claire Nathan. 

Sammy came to visit me in hospital just after I had undergone my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and mentioned that she knew Claire who was interested in my project and that I should contact her. I did so after looking at her website. Her portraits were very good indeed but what clinched it for me was her picture of Sammy - it captured her lovely fresh and lively attitude to life so perfectly. There then followed a series of emails to and fro with photographic and artistic references as we slowly began to create an idea of what we wanted to achieve. For me, it was the connection to Claire and for her, it was a splash of colour, of brightness to create an uplifting image in the face a some of the awful things that life can throw at us. We needed a make-up artist and Claire said that she had worked with Alice Hopkins before and that she was tremendous. 

We met at Notting Hill tube station on the morning of 13th August 2014 and she drove us  to her house where I met her charming husband, the film maker, Dan Nathan, and Alice. We chatted a fair bit but eventually got down to the make up which took a while to get on. Claire was very clear as to what she wanted and Alice was very patient as she made the final touches before the shooting began in Claire's home studio. It was a very happy shoot and we all talked about good times and bad but in a way which enabled each of us to take a few faltering steps towards a greater acceptance of our lot and to reconcile ourselves to tragic events even if we still did not yet fully accept them and understand their meaning for us. People say that I was brave to have my surgery - I wasn't brave, I had no choice. When my sister died, life carried on.

And I can feel you dreaming
And I'm dreaming of you
Together slowly drifting
Into the powder blue

You expect the world to stop but it doesn't. You have no choice but to walk through those empty dark days and hold hands with those close to you and find solace there and eventually you come through to the other side. What has this got to do with this photograph? Well, everything actually. It was part of a journey where I have walked along a path which at some point crossed another path on which Claire is travelling and there we met. And there she took this photograph which, if we hadn't met, would never have been taken and the world would not have seen this part of me or this part of Claire. It is a great photograph. I have recently uploaded a slideshow of my project onto Vimeo and this song by Madness is part of the soundtrack...... 
So can't we just stay?
Can't we just stay?
The world is giving up
And there's just me and you
Together slowly drifting into the powder blue
Into the powder blue 
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue

WEBSITES - CLAIRE: http://clairenathan.com/
                     - ALICE: www.alicehopkins.co.uk.