Tuesday, 20 May 2014

CADBURY'S DAIRY MILK by Robert Ludlow

CADBURY'S DAIRY MILK by Robert Ludlow
18th May 2014 – my birthday and I wake up feeling not very good because not only am I going into The National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London today for my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery but also, over the last ten days, I have had to reduce my dosage of one of my drugs to nil in order to make it less likely that I feel psychotic once I have been ‘’turned on”. I struggle downstairs and open my presents and cards. Everyone has been so kind but none more so than Jane whose birthday it was the day before. She has been amazing in the face of what has been an incredibly worrying time for her. I mean she went through it all before when I was first diagnosed, then she had to go through it again when, suddenly, I became Superman after going on the drugs. But this was different – it was a bloody brain operation.

My twin sister, Sally, came over having recently lost her husband and so she wasn’t feeling great either but I’m afraid that, by the time her two lovely children arrived, I had had it and just wanted to get going to the hospital which had telephoned quite early on to confirm that they had a bed and expected me late afternoon. We drove up and got there about six pm but I was so bad that Jane had to help swing my legs around so that I could stand up out of the car. She asked this big guy called Abraham if he could help. His wife worked at the hospital and he went in search of a wheel chair, found it, plonked me in it and then pushed me in; one of many acts of kindness shown to me over the next two weeks. I have to say, however, that apart from all this spazziness, I was in quite good spirits.

Jane took me up to Lady Anne ward guided by a nursing assistant called Jeff who was going there himself as it happened. I never saw Jeff again during my stay there but I won’t forget him. I had already decided to give myself up to the nursing staff and just allow myself to be looked after. I was put in a side room off the ward and assumed that I would not be there all the time during my stay but in fact I was. Lucky Tim they call me.

Jane was brilliant because she said to me that evening,  “Why are you doing this?” and I was able to justify my decision to her and myself. It wasn’t difficult. I said that I was doing it because, in six month’s time, I did not want to be six month’s worse than I was now. For example, I went to lunch with Jane and her sister and her friend Jo, the day before. I was fine on the way there but I stayed too long and I could hardly walk out of the restaurant at the end, let alone walk home. My main problem is “freezing” where my brain would go to the door but my feet would stay where there were as if they had forgotten how to move. Sometimes, it took me about 45 minutes (or more) to get undressed for bed. I couldn’t turn over in bed – I couldn’t sleep if I started shaking as my head hit the pillow – my whole body but especially my neck would go into spasm. If anyone knocked the door I would struggle towards it, yelling, ”I’m coming, I’m coming” only for the person to walk off before I got there. I’m not looking for sympathy by the way; I am just explaining why the decision to go ahead with DBS was a……no brainer.

That night, I slept on my back but half way through the night, I tried to get up but couldn’t. Eventually, I rang the bell and a nurse called Joanna came in and helped move my legs and my arms so that I could struggle to the loo. She was so kind and gentle. It meant everything.

Oh, angel of the night,
I did not want you
But you answered my call
In the darkest of dark blue.

Joanna;
You told me your name.
You moved my legs, you moved my arms
I did not call you again.

The morning sun throws shadows
Outside on the cool brick walls;
The sounds of the city awakening
Mingle with the footsteps in the halls.

No birdsong here today
Only the incessant bleeps
Perhaps I shall just lie back
And drift into a sleep

Oh, angel of the night
Pray for me in my bower;
Cometh the man into your embrace;
Cometh the hour.

It was also the first time I met Chris, the Aussie night nurse, who, over the next few days, I got to know and like a lot. We talked a bit about cricket and I mentioned that I was a member of the MCC and suggested that he might want to come to Lord’s one day as my guest. Initially, he seemed unenthusiastic but I think this was because he had been caught out before by a patient who had done him a favour and somehow that had created a difficult situation for him. During the next day, I saw Dr Hyam, Mr Zrinzo’s registrar and Joseph, the Parkinson’s nurse and the anaesthetist whose name I regret that I have forgotten. Hyam asked me to sign the consent form for the operation which referred to the various risks including “risk to life” – gulp. I told the anaesthetist about my photographic project and asked if there was anyone who could take my photograph with the cage on my head through which they would guide the electrodes. She was brilliant because, in the end, she arranged for the hospital photographic department to send someone down to do it properly. That someone happened to be Robert Ludlow who, in 2012, won the prestigious Wellcome Images Award for his photograph of the human brain during a surgical procedure for epilepsy. He is my 300th photographer. 

My brother, Anthony (officially, the kindest man on the planet) came to see me later but I was very shaky indeed and pushed my self too far by showing him two of my films. I was grateful that he had come but he knew I was tired and left and I was relieved when he did because I was basically exhausted not by him but by me and my condition.

Then  - 20th May 2014 – D Day or rather DBS Day. During the early morning, I listened to my iPod shuffle and almost every song reminded me of someone or something and made me quite emotional. Then Jane arrived quite early and it was so lovely to see her. I said that perhaps we should agree that I would say something to her after the operation so that she knew that my brain was all right and, after toying with several ideas including lines from plays I had done, Jane suggested “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk” and we agreed on that.


I was given a gown to put on and some paper pants and DVT socks and so I was all ready to go by the time Jane returned from her trip downstairs for a coffee. Hugo, the porter came down for me and took me to the MRI scanning room where the operating theatre was. I was placed on the bed and the anaesthetist asked me my name “Timothy Andrews” and my date of birth “18th May 1951” and then said “You have consented to have Stage one of a sub thalamic Deep Brian Stimulation” and I said “What?!?” as if I didn’t know. Well it made me laugh. At that point Jane left me and, what seemed like five minutes later, I woke up in the Recovery Room absolutely full of myself cracking what I thought were the funniest jokes and generally getting on everyone’s nerves I’m sure.  Jane who had been having kittens upstairs had come down and met two nurses in the lift who had been assisting at the operation and when she asked how it had gone, she could tell from their smiles it was ok  They couldn’t let her into the recovery room however because there was another guy in there who hadn’t yet woken up. I think Joseph, the Parkinson’s Nurse, was there and said that he was going up to tell Jane that I was ok and I asked him to tell her that I had said “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk”. He called Jane on her phone and when she asked how I was, he mentioned Cadbury’s and so Jane knew for sure that I had come through it with brain (and me) intact.

I met Robert when I returned to Queen Square to have the stitches removed from my chest where they had inserted the Patient Programmer and I received the photographs from him a few days later. I have to say that, although they were taken before the actual surgery began, they make for very uncomfortable viewing but actually this was the one which impressed me most. It is so peaceful and is wonderfully composed. It says so much to me about the love and care that all the people in that hospital bestow on their patients. I shall never forget them all or my time there. They are a credit to themselves, their respective professions and the NHS. 

So, thank you Robert, Abraham, Jeff, Jack, Hugo, Paolo, Ludvic Zrinzo, Jon Hyam, Sammy Jo, Hazel, Moses, Ibrahim, Ade, Joanna, Julia, Joseph, Consuelo, Maris, Tim the King, Annette, Chris, Erla, Jean, Dafina, Timothy, Clare, Sheryl, Varndir, Akaysha, Catherine, Vaughan, Nyasha, Juliana, Alberto, Debbie, Sabirah, Cherito, Amy, Alice, Tola, Elvira, Purita, Michael, Hajni and Alfredo who nursed me, fed me, cleaned my room, took my pulse and blood pressure and temperature, made my bed, (in Robert's case) took my photograph and generally and genuinely cared for me and any others whose names I may have forgotten but whose love and mercy I have not.

But and it is a big BUT, I reserve the greatest praise for Jane whose love and devotion meant so much to me. People have said some very kind things about me but I could not have dealt with it in the way I did without that love and devotion. Lucky Tim - it doesn't even come close.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

299!

299!!

Yep, I have been photographed by 299 photographers since May 2007 and it has been a wonderfully dizzy ride of emotion, love, companionship, creativity and artist excellence.

Thank you to all 299 of you for all that you have contributed by way of your time, patience, indulgence and talent.

Please see latest slideshow - https://vimeo.com/95586370 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

I'M BETTER WHEN I MOVE by Nick Ballon

I'M BETTER WHEN I MOVE by Nick Ballon
In March 2012, I saw the most wonderful photograph of Daphne Selfe in the Guardian - it was full of life and vivacity. It sparkled. So, I had no hesitation in writing to the photographer, Nick Ballon. 

DAPHNE SELFE by Nick Ballon
Nick was very willing to be part of my project and initially we were going to use the former residence of James Parkinson in Hoxton Square as the location but Nick's work and my illness got in the way of that and so after a long period during which we kept in touch, we ended up in my house in Brighton where this wonderful picture was taken. 

Why do I like it so much? Well, there is the incongruity of the man wearing a mask and presumably getting ready to dash off and do some good deed in his guise as a super hero plus the fact that it is all happening in such sedate surroundings. If you didn't know me and my project, you might think "What the f.......?". At this point, I should also say that I have often declared that, in my photographs, I am not playing a part but that each one shows the real me or a part of the real me. One might think, therefore, that this disproves that but it is not the case. As some people might know, I make silly short films and put them on You Tube and Vimeo and there is a series of films where I play the part of Zorro. In those films, I am acting but in this photograph it is the real me preparing for my scene and yet it still works in its own zany, surreal way. An other reason I like the photograph is the mirror. It is reflecting the window opposite but it is part of an exquisite composition which includes the the brass bedstead, the shelf of teddies and other toys and soft folds of the bed cover, all of them beautifully photographed. It is full of meaning and movement and shape. My figure dominates but when you allow your eye to wander, it collects all these other little jewels which together go to make up the wonderful whole. 

When you meet Nick and you gaze into his handsome face which always seems to bear a slight smile, you immediately feel at ease and in the presence of someone very assured and astute with an ability to see the bigger picture. In anyone else's hands, this could just be a silly photograph of a guy mucking about with a mask. It isn't - it is a photograph of a man given a second chance in life and who has fond memories of childhood and adulthood that are not being rejected but which have been put behind him as he prepares to set off on another thrilling adventure. I am not afraid of the past, I have no regrets, I love where I am now and I loved where I was that day - in front of the camera held by Nick Ballon, one of the best photographers and one of the nicest men.

I cannot end this without mentioning Alma Haser who was helping Nick that day. As anyone who knows her will tell you, she is an utter delight and a brilliant photographer in her own right. She and Nick are an item - how lucky they both are. 

How lucky I am.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

AMONG GIANTS by André Varela

AMONG GIANTS by Andre Varela

I have just watched on You Tube a lecture by John Cleese about Creativity. I always find it difficult to precis something I have just read or seen but I'll have a bash. One of the things Cleese said is that Creativity is not a talent but is very much related to an ability to behave like a child and to play. One either has a 'closed' mind at any given moment or time or an 'open' mind. When your mind is open you are able to be creative. Well, one day, my open mind looked at Flickr and saw Andre's work and it thought "Yeah, I could really work with this guy". Andre's open mind responded and he replied to my message on Flickr saying that he lived in Portugal and that he would like to come over to England with his partner, Catarina, as his assistant, and take my photograph. And so it was that eventually three open minds met at Gatwick Airport and they did not close until Andre and Catarina returned home three days later.

Andre is one of the most receptive, enthusiastic and open people I have ever met. In addition he is handsome, personable and kind. He is also a very, very good photographer. Yes, I know that I say that a lot and what do I know? I'm not a photographer and I have no idea how cameras work but I do have an opinion as every one does and in my humble opinion, he has a huge talent. Initially, he wanted me to find some locations in forests or on beaches. However, on the day of the shoot, I decided first to take them up to The Devil's Dyke and he was absolutely captivated by its beauty and magic as well as the amazing views. And it was there that this shot was taken. Afterwards, we tried more shots up there and then went to the beach and did some more. Then we returned to my house and did some more. We could have carried on through the night. 

UNFORGIVEN by Andre Varela

In between all this, gradually, I got to know him and Catarina. They were originally going to stay with us but that wasn't possible  because we had a full house so Joan Alexander, another wonderful photographer and human being, said that her friend, Martin Seeds, another wonderful photographer and human being (is there no end to this?) had a spare room and would be able to accommodate them. So, it was because of Andre and Catarina, that I met Martin - I might have met him anyway but later rather than sooner. I went round to his place to chat about it and to collect a key to give to Andre and Catarina and spent a good hour or so enjoying his very entertaining and erudite company. More on this in a future blog post - back to Andre and Catarina. 

I collected them at Gatwick and I knew everything was going to work out well because my drive up the the motorway went well and the drive back went even better. I hadn't driven on a motorway for quite a while. On the way back to Brighton, we chatted in the car and, by the time we arrived, not only were we firm friends but they had already fallen in love with England (it was their first visit) and Brighton in particular. I took them to Martin's place and they all got on like a house on fire and later Jane and I had supper with them in the Lion & Lobster and it was talk, talk talk all evening. They were falling in love with Brighton and I was falling in love with them. I couldn't see them the next day; their original plan was to go to London for the day but they ditched that and spent the day in Brighton which they thoroughly enjoyed.


I said goodbye on the evening of the shoot and left them to find somewhere to eat. I gave each of them a hug and they responded with their Portuguese version and I felt sad that they were leaving. However, the following morning, I got up really early to see if I could catch them before they left and amazingly, they had got lost on the way from Martin's place to the railway station and, when I saw them floundering about in the road, I shouted out and they gratefully clambered into my car and I drove them to catch their train. I stood and watched as they walked up the platform and got into the carriage. They were gone. I sighed and turned away. I had a spring in my step as I did so and, as I skipped back to the car, I felt incredibly fortunate to be the person I am, doing the things that I do and meeting the people I meet.


I received the photographs very shortly afterwards. I'm sure that any decent photographer could take something similar but these were very special for two reasons. First, they were magnificent in their breadth and vision and secondly, they captured all the emotion that the three of us were feeling as we worked together. I was very moved by them because of this. I liked them all but this was the obvious choice to represent Andre in my project. Whenever I look at it, all I can think of is a beautiful couple, Andre and Catarina, at home in Portugal perhaps thinking of the time they came to England to see me and maybe, just maybe, we smile at the same time with the same amount of love in our hearts.  

Andre and me



Monday, 5 May 2014

CUPID'S BOW by Clare Park

CUPID'S BOW by ClarePark


I first met Clare just over three years ago when I attended a Private View of a series of her photographs of Buz Williams, a guy who also has Parkinson's Disease. The photographs I saw that evening were technically brilliant. Beautifully clear and sharp and vibrant. She said hello when I went up to her and I could see her sizing me up but, unlike most people in that situation, her mind was not elsewhere. She looked at me - I mean, she really looked at me and took me in. I could not wait to work with her. Since then, she has become a great friend and it is difficult to remember how it used to be but I think we were friends from the moment we met. 

Since 2011, she has photographed me a number of times and this shot is one of the last of a long line of amazing images which she has produced. How does she do it? Well, as I have already said, she is technically very adept. But there is so much more than that - it goes so deep. She is a supreme artist, she is grounded, she is a poet and she is a dancer who moves and speaks with grace and beauty. No words are wasted, no gestures are meaningless, no smile is false. 

This is one of the few times when I have included in my project a second photograph by a photographer but quite honestly every photograph of me by Clare should be included.

Of this photograph, the full title of which is 'Cupid's Bow: Nerve Endings and Nerve Beginnings', she writes "Tim's photographic experiences in making ‘Over the Hill’ have usually been solo interludes with many different photographers. As his project took shape, I increasingly thought about capturing in some subtle way Tim’s constant, his scaffold, his love...his effervescent wife Jane. In my mind’s eye the picture was meant to honour this bond between husband and wife. On May 5th 2014 we translated my idea and for that short moment I was a fellow traveller in their extraordinary journey together..."

She is Clare - my friend, my chronicler, my surprise.

Confrontation (2011)
Mummy (2013)
Feeling the Light (2013)



THE ANSWER by Sara Gaynor

THE ANSWER by Sara Gaynor

I read a letter. In the Black & White photography magazine. I cannot remember what it said but it must have moved me in some way because I looked up the writer's work on her website. It was beautiful. I contacted the writer whose name was Sara Gaynor. I asked her to photograph me. She said yes. A few weeks and several emails later she came up with the idea of water and asked if we could do the shoot at Highgate Ponds. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that the photograph above doesn't look anything like Highgate Ponds. You're right. I doesn't. It isn't. It's a beach at Southwick near Brighton. I had an aunt who lived in Southwick years ago. Her name was Auntie May. She was married to Uncle Bert. I remember playing on their carpet with a small metal train. Auntie May was my father's sister. He died when I was two. My mother wanted to buy a house made out of a railway carriage in East Wittering in Sussex but needed a mortgage. She could not get a mortgage without a guarantor. She asked Uncle Bert if he would act as Guarantor. He went to look at the house but he was not impressed. So he refused. I don't think my mother ever forgave him. She never said so in so many words but she often used to tell the story about Uncle Bert and the Railway Carriage House. 




Back to the main story. I met Sara. She  came too Brighton. We went to the beach at Southwick. I took off my clothes. I lay on the sand. I lay in the water. I lay on the sand again half in the water and half out. I pretended to fly like Superman. Then Sara suddenly produced this piece of material. She asked me  to stand facing the sea. The material was blowing in the wind. And there was the answer, my friend. It was blowing in the wind. This was the first photograph Sara sent to me. She did not need to send any more. There I am. Facing the sea that I love so much. That is the answer to everything. Love. I love the sea. I love Sara. I love my family. I love Jane. I love my friends. I love my photographers. I love the feel of the sand below my bare feet. I love my life. I love this photograph.



How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind



Saturday, 3 May 2014

VAULT OF METAMORPHOSIS

CHILDHOOD LOST III by Justyna Neryng

Four years ago, I travelled down from my then home in Surrey to work with a photographer whom I had not met previously but whose work had completely captivated me from the first time I saw it on Flickr. Her name was Justyna Neryng. She had a few ideas for the shoot some of which involved me wearing an old vest and rubbing dirt over my face and shoulders. I washed this off and smarmed back my hair in the process and left it like that for the next shot; this time she wanted me to cry but when I explained that I had never been able to cry to order, she said not to worry as she had some glycerene. However, as she began to set the shot up, I began to feel a tear coming to my eye. I wasn't feeling emotional nor was I trying think sad thoughts - it was just coming. Justyna quickly finished her preparations and, just as the tear rolled down my cheek, 'click' went the shutter and we got the shot. It was a piece of magic.

And if you want to experience something similarly magical, I would urge you to make your way to Powis Street Studio to see Justyna's latest work alongside that of photographers, Tobias Slater-Hunt and Chris Bulezuik, costumier Chrissie Nicholson-Wild, stylist Zoe Della Rocca and film maker Zoe Van Spyk. These wonderful artists have combined to produce what they describe as ''a dynamic visual exploration of the complex transformation of the body. 

Tobias Slater-Jones (who recently became the 294th photographer to shoot me as part of my own project) displays his amazing nude studies from the ''Closer to God'' series whilst Chris Bulezuik's series of portraits called "Mother" include some simply gorgeous representations of womanhood. 

CLOSER TO GOD XXV1 by Tobias Slater-Hunt
And, as for Justyna, well the ''Childhood Lost'' collection is a stunning example of the wizardry which she produces in her studio with her talented and delightful daughter, Nell, who acts as her model. However, it is ''Ghost Dance IV'' that blows me away. The wonderful light and tone and the trailing hair which runs from one figure to the other. It is so beautiful, it makes me want to cry, with real emotion this time. 

The exhibition is open every weekend during Brighton Fringe Festival until 1st June next. Get down there as soon as you can. It is a very special experience. 

VAULT OF METAMORPHOSIS is at The Basement, Powis Street Studio, 4 Powis Street, Brighton BN1 3HJ.

WEBSITES: JustynaNeryng - http://justynaneryng.co.uk/
                      Tobias Slater-Hunt - www.tobiasslaterhunt.co.uk
                      Chris Bulezuik - http://www.chrisbulezuik.co.uk/

Thursday, 1 May 2014

THE NIGHT HAS COME by Jo Thorne

THE NIGHT HAS COME  by Jo Thorne
When this photograph was taken, I was really bad Parkinson's-wise. It was less than three weeks before my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and I had just begun to reduce some of my medication in readiness for the operation. BUT - there is no way you can tell from looking at this picture. 

I came across the delightful Jo through Twitter - I think Twitter suggested her as a contact on the basis that she was similar to other contacts i.e. a photographer. So clever. Anyway, I wrote to her in March 2013 and she replied saying that she had heard of me already through Luca Sage and that she felt very flattered and slightly overawed at being involved in such an amazing body of work. It is an amazing body of work but Jo was a worthy participant in my view because I really admired her work and I told her so. What with one thing and another, we didn't meet for ages but eventually, she came round to my place and we had a good chat about her ideas and almost inevitably, I subjected her to a showing of my silly films. Even then, it took a few more months before we had our first shoot, in the woods, although the coloured powder which she had brought with her did not really feature. However, we also planned a studio shoot and this is where this image came from. Jo had an idea to photograph me on a chair with flowers strewn around but, as I say, I was not feeling very good that day and therefore not totally relaxed although I found Jo extremely easy to work with. There were a few shots left on the film and we decided to put me on the floor and immediately I felt better. Often, at home, when I felt bad, I would struggle to the floor and just stretch out and allow my illness and my tremors etc to sink into the floor. As a consequence of relaxing more, I had more energy to put into the pose itself. 

I LOVE this picture. It is so romantic. I look normal whereas I certainly did not feel normal. I really feel that of all the pictures I have had taken this is the one of which I am most proud because we got there even though there was so much working against us. Jo is a perfectionist and I know that she had her doubts about the results of this shoot but, as far as I am concerned, it works splendidly.

I am not going to put up any other images from the shoots because I don't need to - this says it all. It says I met Jo, she met me, we connected, we communicated, we tried our best and then, with the help of a little bit of magic, we got this. I don't really believe in God any more although I was brought up to but I do feel that there is a special magical entity somewhere in the ether, in the sky, in our brains, in our spirit which we can draw upon like water from a well and it brings succour in our hour of need and makes things feel better when, but for a few notches the other way on the dial, they could feel worse.

After the shoot, I got dressed, walked unsteadily across the road and stood waiting for the bus trying to look and feel normal. I plugged my earphones into my ears and pressed play on my ipod shuffle. I got my bus pass ready and hailed the bus and sat down in a disabled seat and, as I looked out of the window, John Lennon began to sing "Stand By Me"in the way only he can...

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only night I see
No, I won't be afraid
Oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me