Thursday, 28 April 2016

I CAN HELP YOU OUT by Al Brydon and Jacqui Booth

I CAN HELP YOU OUT by Al Brydon and Jacqui Booth
.......this was the third shoot with both Al and Jacqui shooting together. I travelled to Sheffield again on the train. Sheffield! It used to have such emotive connotations because of my former girlfriend, Susan, who sadly died some years ago but now it is the place where Al lives and where I have met both him and Jacqui for our shoots and that conjures up different emotions. Now, when I think of Sheffield, I think of friendship and bonding and the ability to do anything I want in front of their cameras. This shoot had a different feel to it than the previous two with them and I think the reason for that was that I had already decided to end my project so I felt slightly disconnected at first. But Al and Jacqui are so immersed in their work and so serious about it that this began to dominate the mood and enable us to experiment. 


I know Al told me but I cannot remember where the first part of this triptych was shot but what I do remember was that it was a long climb to get there and that I took my piece of red, gauze-like piece of material with me, fragments of which you can see in the first image and then more clearly draped over me in the second. The tunnel in the second and third images was amazing and the light was weird and excellent. I wanted to take off my clothes there but there was the odd dog-walker about and so it didn't happen. The triptych is very representative of the collaboration with these two; it includes the trees and natural habitat that we all love, the light shining on what we have done together and the old brick built tunnel which speaks of the people who built it but who have passed on. It wraps everything up with a ribbon on top and places it carefully on the shelf with all the other gifts which I have received from Al and Jacqui; the gift of our companionship, of laughter, of jolly banter, of watching them have a fag break or Al deep in thought or Jacqui's beautiful smile. 


On the way up the hill to the first location, we heard the plaintive cry of a little lamb and then came upon the pathetic creature sitting near the path we were taking. The sound of its bleating was sad, like a song of heartache, of helplessness. It had gone by the time we returned and so I guess that it found its mum. I hope so. We all need someone to care for and to care for us.


I have no answer for you little lamb 
I can help you out / but I cannot help you in 
Sometimes you think that life is hard 
And this is only one of them 
My heart is breaking for you little lamb 
I can help you out / but we may never meet again
                                           - Linda and Paul McCartney 

Jacqui & Al inside the tunnel looking out

AL BRYDON'S WEBSITE: http://www.al-brydon.com/
JACQUI BOOTH'S WEBSITE: http://www.jacqui-booth.co.uk/
INSIDE THE OUTSIDE WEBSITE: http://www.inside-the-outside.com/



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

ARC OF A DIVER by Julie Mullin

ARC OF A DIVER by Julie Mullin
I first heard of Julie when I was compiling my "Selfie for Stu" video but I made a decision not to approach any of the photographers who contributed selfies unless I heard or made contact independent of the video. That said, I cannot remember how I came across Julie's work - all I do know is that, when I did, I found it be refreshing and fun which was exactly what I was after. Eventually, I hatched a plan to travel to see her in Blackpool and to tie in my trip with visits to Manchester to see Lucy Ridges and Sheffield to see Al Brydon and Jacqui Booth. This wasn't easy because both Julie and I were not well at different times both at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. But eventually, we settled on some dates and I found myself in a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Blackpool - not the greatest hotel in the world but everyone I came into contact with on this visit was extremely friendly and welcoming whether it was the staff at the hotel, a woman I bumped into in the lift, various taxi drivers or the cashier in the little shop opposite the hotel.


I got a taxi to Julie's place - a neat little house in a nice road and I was welcomed into her sitting room where I met her partner and her youngest daughter. Now, I often say how much I enjoy the shoots but it is not just the actual photography, it is also very much the people I meet and chatting with them all over a cup of tea was of the nicest times I have had on this long journey. I could have listened to their mellifluous Irish accents all day and Julie's partner was intelligent and charming and their gorgeous daughter a little shy but extremely pretty and fun. Julie then led me into her conservatory where she had set up a little mini-studio and I took off my clothes and we tried various shots and then shot a short cinemagraph, all the while engaging in a very interesting chat about the question of Nudity and how people reacted to this. Although the weather was a bit changeable, the sun in a clear blue sky made the conservatory very warm indeed and after about an hour, possibly less, we were both grateful to retire to the relative cool of the sitting room.


Julie had mentioned her other daughter a few times and explained that she would be home from school shortly and also said that she had told her about photographing me and that her daughter had taken a keen interest in her photography. We all chatted some more until I felt it was time to go. At that point her older daughter arrived and, I hadn't thought much about what sort of person she would be but this lovely 12 year old girl walked in, dressed very smartly in her pristine school uniform and proceeded to introduce herself to me in such a courteous and pleasant manner and with a polite confidence that belied her young age. I was astonished because I do not think I have ever met anyone of that age quite like her and, if she is like that now, she will go far because it is rare to meet anyone so accomplished let alone a 12 year old. What a brilliant family! I came away even more convinced that notwithstanding all the rotten things happening in this world, there are lovely families like Julie's who represent all the good things about humanity.


I received the photographs in dribs and drabs (what is a drab?) but when I saw this one, I was immediately drawn to it. It is very simple but no less interesting for that. It continues to express my interest in body shapes and I love the curve of my back even though my stomach gets in the way of a more perfect arc. The other shots were different and very interesting again with the shapes and layers creating an exciting mix but, overall, this was the shot. It slides into place and stands proudly with the other great images in my project as does the memory of that sunny day when I met and worked with the lovely, talented Julie Mullin.

"......arc of a diver, effortlessly, my mind in sky and when I wake up......" 

WEBSITE: http://www.juliemullin.com/

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

0459 by Lucy Ridges

0459 by Lucy Ridges
This was our third shoot and this was Lucy's favourite image from it. As with the previous shoots with Lucy, there were so many good pictures that came out of it. This is because Lucy is like a little bird collecting bits and pieces to make her nest. For example, she met me at the station and, on the way to her studio, she took a piece of blossom from a roadside tree and this appeared in one shot about an hour or so later but then she looks around her studio and sees a bird which appears on my shoulder a few seconds later and then 'click' and it becomes a contestant for a place in "Over the Hill".


On this day, Lucy was also playing host to a final year film student who was making a film about analogue photographers and she was there for the first part of the shoot in Lucy's studio. After she left, we went to a large room down the hall and tried out some other shots of which this was one. Lucy didn't say why she liked this photograph so much. For me, it is the composition. The fact that the main figure is blurred and out of focus makes it look quite painterly and the position of the mirror meddles with the perspective. Is the mirror on the wall or the floor? It has wit and it provokes. It asks questions. It was interesting the way in which Lucy spoke to the student and asked her questions. I think that Lucy is a teacher and if, in another life, I had taken up photography, her work would have been my inspiration.


We had longer than usual on the shoot as I was not going straight back to London but on to Blackpool for a shoot with Julie Mullins and then on to Sheffield to meet Al Brydon and Jacqui Booth. It was nice not being in a rush. We had time to talk. Time to think. Time for a song. Time to finish.

Time for all good things to come to an end.

WEBSITE: http://lucyridges.com




Monday, 25 April 2016

BEAUTIFUL DREAMER by Alice Evans

BEAUTIFUL DREAMER by Alice Evans

I closed my eyes. "You look beautiful" said Alice. I thanked her and thought what a lovely thing for someone to say. The camera clicked twice and then silence. That was it, the end of the shoot. I opened my eyes and we both smiled. Alice said that these were her first nude photographs. I felt proud. I felt happy. I wondered what 'beautiful' meant. When I received the photograph, I knew. The body is a beautiful thing, whatever shape, colour, condition or size. As I lay on that bed, in the basement below those windows, I did not think that. Nor did I think that I was beautiful when Alice said that I was. I just thought it was a very nice thing for her to say. But then, Alice is a very nice person. Gentle, quietly keen, interested and interesting.

When she arrived at the door with her philosopher friend, Paul, I was meeting her for the first time. Alice had been invited to partake in Critical Voices 2016 and so I looked at her work online and thought, mm, yes, I think so. I wrote and told her I thought so in the words of my standard email, the contents of which have hardly changed since I sent the first in 2008. She responded positively and, eventually, we agreed a date for the shoot in Brighton. When I looked at her website, I was taken particularly by the photographs in her "Dark" series. In many of these, there were no people but they had been there and I do find it very interesting when I see work like this which asks questions. Who was there? What were they doing and why? The photographer takes you only so far and then trusts you to make up your own mind. To create your own story.

So, with "Dark" in mind, Alice looked around the house for suitable places to photograph me but, as is often the case, the photographer is guided away from the original idea and it ends up differently; it ends up looking like this. Of course, there is no whitewater rapid in our basement (unless we have a damp problem far worse than we thought), it is in Coed y Brenin in North Wales but I do love the sound of water. I love its energy. And I have been placed above it, stretched out on a patchwork quilt of trees and rock listening to the water rushing by below me. Or maybe I am oblivious to it.

What I do know is that Alice has created a beautiful image using elements, fragments of light and energy and wrapped it all up into an image shaped like a beating heart. Is it not beautiful? Or am I dreaming?  

Friday, 22 April 2016

LINDA LIEBERMAN - an appreciation.

THE REALISATION by Linda Lieberman 2011


Linda Lieberman is a great photographer and a great artist. She takes beautiful photographs and she makes beautiful sculptures. And that is not all - they examine serious issues and make compelling statements about this world we inhabit and how we mistreat it. And I haven't finished - she is one of the nicest people I have ever met.

I came across her incredible work in 2010 and I wrote to her asking her if she would be willing to photograph me. She replied saying how busy she was but asking to see a photograph of me.....a little glint of light appeared, a little gap which I squeezed through by sending her a really good photograph. She acknowledged receipt of the photograph which she liked (YES!) and said that she would be in touch in the following month. I left it exactly a month and wrote again but this time she explained that she was very involved with a "very time consuming" sculpture project and would be "for some time to come" and therefore would have to put a "possible" session with me on hold. Possible - that word. I grabbed hold of it and hung on and replied saying (again) how much I admired her work. Then in the following January 2011, she wrote to me asking if I would be willing to be shot in March in a loincloth in London holding some fish. Immediately, I telephoned the Vatican and asked "Il Papa e cattolico?" and a very nice man said "Si!" I replied to Linda saying "Si!" or rather "Yes!" and this time I finished my email "Love Tim x" Linda responded and, for the first time, instead of ending with "regards, Linda Lieberman" it was "Best always, Linda". Result!

But then I almost scuppered the whole thing. I stopped the project.

It was a difficult time. We were selling our beloved Ravenswood to get rid of our huge mortgage. Jane and I felt so low. I wrote telling the photographers who had said yes including Linda who replied with the kindest words. In fact, loads of people did and I realised what the project had given me and that I should not have been so hasty. Gradually, I began to pick up the pieces and glue them together and my correspondence with Linda resumed. We actually set up a shoot date but then my daughter was stuck by Pneumonia and I had to cancel only the day before. My daughter recovered and, in July 2011, almost exactly a year after I first wrote to her, I was photographed by the great Linda Lieberman. How cool is that?

But, wait for it. She photographed me two days ago for the second time. We had remained in touch during the intervening period - she came to my exhibition in Southport on her way down from Scotland and she came to the exhibition at Farley Farm. She has become a very good friend. She is a beautiful person inside and out, she cares, she has oodles of talent and she makes a very good pasta salad. 

A further blogpost will follow when the photographs are published but I had to write something in the meantime.

WEBSITE: http://www.lindalieberman.com/


Thursday, 21 April 2016

LIGHT AND DARK by Cathy Pyle

LIGHT AND DARK by Cathy Pyle

This was a good day.

I had seen Cathy's photograph of her daughter in the Portrait Salon exhibition in November 2015. It was ablaze with natural light which rested gently on her young face and on blond curls but you cannot have light without darkness and the shadows on her skin and in her hair made the image rich and full. It shone out from its place on the wall amongst all the other incredible images on display. I noted down Cathy's name with a view to contacting her which I did a few days later. She responded confirming her interest but pointing out that, due to her childcare commitments, the shoot would have to be near her home in Guildford. We arranged to meet first and I went to Guildford by train. It was strange going back there five years after our move away from the area but Cathy met me at the station and once we had said hello and I had got into her car and started chatting, any sad feelings melted away. We went to her house and chatted about my project and her work, our respective families and love of home and family. She provided lunch and then, as her children's school day was getting near its end, she drove me back to the station. This meeting certainly helped to strengthen our relationship in that, when she arrived at my own door for our shoot on 21st April 2016, she wasn't a stranger and we just took up where we had left off. I showed her around the house and she settled on one or two locations and we chatted as we worked and we worked as we chatted and it was all very easy and smooth. We walked down to the sea - the sun was shining and although there was quite a breeze, it wasn't too cold and we sat near the edge of the beach eating a plate of chips each. Then it was time for Cathy to go and we said goodbye. I don't recall asking why she had decided to travel all the way over to me but I think she recognised that it was essential for her to photograph me 'at home'.

I received a set of photographs from the shoot which Cathy has since published on her website under the heading of "Hiraeth" which is a Welsh word for which there is no direct translation in English but which Cathy describes as basically a homesickness for a home to which one cannot return, a nostalgia, yearning or grief for the lost places of one's past. We had spoken a lot about my previous homes, both my childhood home in West Wittering in Sussex and our family home "Ravenswood" which we had to sell in 2010. Indeed, she suggested that we might conduct the shoot in the latter but I explained that I had vowed never to return there - it would be too painful.

So, what of the photographs? It seems odd to talk about them after dipping into the sadness surrounding the memory of Ravenswood but they made me happy, very happy indeed. I love all of them because I remember how I felt as Cathy took each one. I felt that here was a person who understood. I chose this one because of the light and because of the dark which combine to create a picture not unlike the one of Cathy's daughter. The light pours in through the window and even the black T shirt is highlighted with flecks of grey. The rise and fall of the terrain of my face and arms is created by skin, flesh, muscle, vein but becomes all the more interesting when tinged by the light from the window. It is a photograph by Cathy Pyle, a warm and beautiful person who paints even the dark side with a light touch. She understands her subject, that is clear but what is also clear is that this compassion is allied to a deep knowledge of how to use a camera to tell a story.

This photograph tells of a good day. A day of Light and Dark.



Wednesday, 20 April 2016

CROWN OF HOOKS 09 by Linda Lieberman

CROWN OF HOOKS 09 by Linda Lieberman
If everyone had a friend like Linda Lieberman, we would all be happy and not only that, we would all be very conscious about how important it is that preserve the world's resources. She is totally committed to this through her photography and her sculpture and her mixed-media work. But it is not all serious - she has a lot of fun too (see her recent photograph "Down Boy").

We had talked about working together again but Linda is not someone who does things for no reason; there has to be a point to it and then, if she asks you to participate, you feel really special as I did when she invited me to be a part of her "Crown Series". I am going to stop there because I feel the need to write a letter and let this exceptional picture by Linda Lieberman speak for itself. 


WEBSITE: http://www.lindalieberman.com

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

"MY BRAIN HURTS!" by Hayley Wroe

"MY BRAIN HURTS!" by Hayley Wroe

"My Brain Hurts!" is a line from a Monty Python sketch and it was a sort of Monty Python mood which Hayley wanted to engender in the shoot which took place in one of the studios in the wonderful Photography department at Bournemouth University where Hayley was just about to complete her final year.


I had met Hayley when she assisted on the shoot with Ellie Hones about a month before. I looked at her work online which was excellent but it was her idea to film me whilst I was adopting various disguises that clinched it. Hayley met me at the station and then drove me to the University. Once we were there, she showed me various false moustaches, lips and hats on sticks and asked me to improvise with them whilst she filmed it on her camera. It was great fun and certainly Hayley thought it was amusing as she seemed to giggle a lot - either that or I looked like a complete idiot but then that was the whole idea. Well, the idea as originally explained by Hayley was for her to film me making different expressions which captured the emotions which I experienced on a day to day basis.


Once we finished the film (which is to be made available shortly), Hayley then asked me to stand still and make different expressions with and without props whilst she took still photographs. Of the final shots which Hayley sent me, I chose this one for serious reasons. My brain has never hurt but it has caused a bit of mayhem in the Andrews household. In many ways, the effect of Parkinson's disease has been enormous, particularly when one throws early retirement into the mix. Suddenly, the usual routines disappeared and, instead of Jane having a nice quiet house all to herself for five days a week, there I was dominating everything from the use of the computer to the conversation and, at the same time, charging off like a maniac to photographic shoots. Jane did not know whether she was coming or going and believe me, if you think you are coming but then realise that you are going, it does your head in. Similar problems persist if you think you are going but, in fact, you are coming. Not that I was actually visualising such thoughts as I changed expression in front of Hayley's camera but they must have had some influence.

So, that was that. Hayley returned me to the station and the train returned me home. A while later, I received these images each of which I could have chosen to represent Hayley in the project but, in the end, I plumped for this one. It is part of me - some things in life are bad and they really make me sad and other things just really make me swear and curse. But mostly, I find that I look on the bright side of life. 

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


Monday, 18 April 2016

SOMEWHERE, BEYOND THE SEA by Antonia Attwood

Still from the video "Somewhere, Beyond the Sea" by Antonia Attwood
I have been asked to speak at Critical Voices 2016 at Tunbridge Wells on 11th June and when the organiser, Graham Shaw, sent me the details they included the names of my co-speakers and there, nestling amongst the names on the list was that of Antonia Attwood. I looked at her website where it stated that her work aimed to illustrate and visually interpret how mental illness 'feels' using "metaphorical symbols which create an attempt to raise awareness and understanding of the mood affectations and the phenomenology of mental illness". It goes on to say that her work explored "how it feels to be vulnerable and overwhelmed by the world living with a medical condition".


This was enough to convince me to contact Antonia but then I looked at her films "Gestures of Resilience" and "Mother Tongue" both of which I found extremely moving. However, it is interesting that, sometimes, I do not really think of myself as being someone who has a condition or an illness - maybe I do all I do to block that out. Who knows? Anyway, back to Antonia. The films were excellent so I wrote to her asking if we could collaborate. She replied quite quickly saying that she would love to create a moving style portrait with me and suggested that perhaps we could look at a gesture that made me feel empowered and cut it with a metaphorical image that explored how I 'felt' living with an illness similar to the way she dealt with this in "Mother Tongue". Yes, yes, yes! She then wrote asking me to think of metaphorical words that described my experience with Parkinson's and this bear of little brain had to look up the definition of a metaphor and respond accordingly. What I came up with were the constant incidences of little battles which I have had with the condition during the day, especially before my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery; it is almost as if PD is a sparring partner and that I bob and weave and jab away to stop it having too much of a constrictive effect.


We arranged to meet in her studio which is in a small gated complex in South London. I called her on the 'phone as I arrived outside and she she came out to let me in. I love that moment just before I meet a photographer whom I have not met previously. I have studied his or her work beforehand and I am excited by the prospect of working together and then suddenly, there they are standing right in front of me - it is one of the many pleasures of this project. James Stewart, the great film actor, said once that films are made up of moments like this and I feel that real life is the same. It is about anticipation, the unknown.


We talked for quite a while before Antonia got ready for the filming. I don't know how we got round to Bobby Darin singing "Beyond the Sea" but we did. It is a classic crooner/jazz song and, about three quarters of the way through, there is a wonderful drum riff and so, while I was being filmed, dancing to the song, I did some shadow boxing in time (or roughly in time) to the drum solos as Antonia film me. A few weeks later, I received the film and it is excellent. She has used the live version of the song which, even slowing it down, adds dynamism to the portrait but, at the same time, it creates this feeling of slowness and stiffness by the drawling soundtrack. The dance is interrupted by an image of brain shaking vigorously, each wobble like a poke in the ribs to remind us that, whatever methods are used to keep the illness at bay, the brain is still vulnerable. Brilliant.


Antonia manages yet again to make a simple statement whilst examining and representing a complex, irrepressible disease. She has a rare talent and I am very honoured indeed to have worked with her. When she sent me the film, she also sent these words which describe her take on our collaboration:-


"Tim describes his relationship to his Parkinson’s as an ongoing fight with his brain. Determined not to let it win, and ultimately succeeding at this. He came into the studio his energy and positivity simply inspiring. He started dancing to ‘Somewhere Beyond the Sea’ and instantly I knew he wasn’t a victim of a neurological disease, he was simply someone who loved life. 
Using the footage of him dancing, reminded me of a fight, just like the one he described previously. The fact he could get up and dance proved he was winning this one. Cutting this with images of a brain reminds us that the fight is always on going. I have no doubt that with Tim’s positivity, drive and determination this will be a battle till the end, to enjoy every single day."

The film is below.

WEBSITE : http://www.antoniaattwood.com/
VIDEO : https://vimeo.com/167294214



Thursday, 14 April 2016

THE END IS NIGH


I have had the feeling for sometime now that "Over the Hill" has had its day and so I have now decided to bring it to an end. I have one or two shoots arranged for April and May and then that will be it. There are quite a few photographers who kindly have said that they would like to photograph me but, for one reason or another, we have stopped corresponding either due to my failure to grab the chance when it was offered or because the photographer has been busy with paid work. I apologise to any of you out there if I was at fault - my only excuse is that it is sometimes difficult to keep tabs on everyone plus the fact that I haven't been too well in recent months. However, if there is anyone who I have approached and requested they take part and who would still like to add their name to the 387 who have already photographed me, then please, please do email me and we can try to set something up before the end of May which is the cut off date. Also, I am hoping that some of you may want to photograph me again or need a model for a shoot and may think to ask me.

I cannot tell you what a thrill it has been to be involved in this project. I was so pleased when I retired as a solicitor because I was working under a lot of stress partly due to the job itself but also because I had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease but did not know it. I had so many things I wanted to do - watch cricket, read, write, go to the cinema and I did all those things but they were lonely pastimes. Over the Hill has enabled me to meet and work with 387 beautiful people and I can safely say that I have not had a bad shoot. And it was the shoots I loved most of all. 

It hasn't all been plain sailing. First, of all, Jane did not quite know what to make of it all having got over the shock of the initial diagnosis. Some people have questioned why I want to be photographed and also why all the nudity even though I have removed my clothes in less than a quarter of them. I hope that I haven't upset anyone too much by my shocking behaviour! There have been a few regrets - my failure to persuade Nadav Kander to photograph me being one. I have also been asked if I have a favourite image but I can honestly say that I do not. Each one has been an important part of the journey.

I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart, who has been involved in this project either in photographing me or assisting on the shoots. You "have made my life enchanting" and have helped me through a time when I could have succumbed to my illness but in fact it has been a time when I have been wonderfully happy. Each time I look at a photograph from the project, I remember the shoot and what fun we had. I shall never forget you - any of you.
ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE by Tim Andrews