|NUMBER ONE by Graeme Montgomery|
Over 200,000 pageviews on my blog, over 400 photographers, 9 exhibitions, several articles and features in The Big Issue, Photography Monthly, The Guildford Magazine, The Times, The British Journal of Photography, The Guardian Weekend magazine, The Daily Telegraph and The Parkinson magazine, a feature on The Culture Show on BBC TV. But it is not about numbers. It is about Photography and what it can achieve. It is about the talent, goodwill, artistry, hard work, generosity and patience of each one of the photographers who photographed me for nothing. 11 photographers photographed me but never sent any pictures to me afterwards but so what? I would be amazed if everyone had. These people have lives to lead, work to do and money to earn to support their chosen career. And what about me? What have I got out of this project? A reason to be, to keep on going, a self-belief, the joy of meeting these people and working with them. As Robert De Niro says in The Deerhunter "This is this, is this" THIS is what it has mean to me. Love, respect, communication, liberation, a means by which I could at last express myself. I know some people think I am weird to have gone off and done this, that I am an exhibitionist. I understand how they should think that but they are wrong. I have done it as a means of self expression.
Spike Milligan was once asked why he carried on writing, what was he doing it for. All he said was "me". He wasn't weird, he wasn't showing off, he wasn't an exhibitionist, he just wanted to express himself.
I have asked over 400 photographers to photograph me and they have done. I have had a ball. It has been such fun. I have laughed with Jayne Dennis and Claudine Quinn, I have cried with Brian David Stevens and Justyna Neyring. I have allowed Jennifer Balcombe to lean her head on my shoulder, I have asked Valentina Quintano to photograph me thinking of Jane, I have danced in front of Alicia Clarke and Shawn Sobers, I have conquered my fear of playing with silk with Mohir, I have photographed myself in front of Simon Roberts, I have painted "SPAZ"on the wall of Lisa Wormsley's flat, I have lain like a lion in the long grass in a park near Antonio Olmos's home, l have lain on rocks for Al Brydon and Jacqui Booth and Christina Theissen, I have lain naked in churches for Jillian Edelstein and Ameena Rojee, I have been painted with light by Steve Bloom and Jack Kerruish, I have worn a pig's nose for Rankin, I have hung dead fish around my neck for Linda Lieberman and on my back for Valentina Lari, I have swum under water for Emma Critchley, Tee Chandler, Valda Bailey, Kathy Foote and Emma Davies. I have stood on beaches in front of Julia Horbaschk, Sheryl Tait, Sara Gaynor, Charlie Clift, Ellie Hones, Mike South and Itziar Olaberria, I have danced on the steps of St Paul's for Charlotte Steeples and bowed in front of Oxford Circus Tube Station for Ben Smith, I have been photographed as a clown by Tiff Oben, Robyn Minogue, Izaskun Gonzalez and Holly Wren, I have walked along the South Bank wearing a box on my head for Liz Orton, I have been painted blue all over (Karen Knorr) and on my hands and feet (Polly Penrose), Poppy French has photographed me in a kimono with a helium balloon. I have danced on the fourth plinth in front of Linda Johnson, Paul Rider, Mohir, Dana Mendonca and Patricia Pastore. I have sat quietly on a chair and allowed photographers to take simple portraits. I have climbed into quarries, walked into woods, swum in the sea, lain in the grass, clambered up trees and banks, lain on a railway track, hung brambles around my neck, covered myself with Beatles records, smiled, smirked, raised my eyebrow, my hat, my arm, my leg, stretched, squirmed, bathed in red jelly, poured milk over my head, covered myself with dirt, had Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, run naked on several beaches and so much more.
It has been bloody wonderful.