|OVER THE HILL by Roberto Foddai|
‘Alright boys, this is it, over the hill’ is the intro of the song “Bring on Lucie” by John Lennon and, although the phrase ‘over the hill’ has somewhat negative connotations, it is announced on the record in a very positive way by Lennon who goes on to sing ‘Do it, do it, do it, do it now!’ and so, for me, the title of this exhibition is optimistic despite the double meaning.
In May 2007, I answered an advertisement in Time Out from Graeme Montgomery, whom I know now to be an extremely talented professional photographer. He was compiling a book of nudes and wanted to photograph the first 100 people to answer the advert so I thought ‘why not?’ and went along and found that I was number one! Strangely enough, two other photographers advertised in the following two issues of Time Out, this time for people to pose for portraits, and they both photographed me subsequently. That was that for a while until, in February 2008, I answered an advert in our local newspaper from a student, Daisy Lang, who wanted to photograph people with illnesses for her final year’s project. Subsequently, I discovered that there were many photographers advertising on the Internet for models for particular projects. I wrote an email to the first photographer explaining that I was 57 and had Parkinson’s Disease and that ‘I wanted to continue on my path of being photographed by different people during the course of my illness’. Suddenly, as I wrote those words, I realised that I had my own project.
Since then, over 300 different photographers have photographed and filmed me and it has been incredibly interesting and exciting as I have seen the project develop day by day. I have met many wonderful, skilful people many of whom, normally, I would never have met let alone spent several hours with them.
It has been a fascinating journey. I have always loved photography but never had the patience or skill to practice it successfully. However, being a model has enabled me to collaborate with brilliant practitioners of the art and to be part of the artistic photographic process.
I decided on "Over the Hill" as the title of the project in January 2009 but I had not discussed this with anyone until I met Roberto Foddai a few weeks later to talk about his ideas for our shoot. He produced two pieces of headgear he wanted me to wear and said that one of them had some wording on it which he felt was somewhat ironic. He turned it over and on the front were the words – ‘Over the Hill’.
This project is dedicated to my wife the artist, Jane Andrews, who has taught me about integrity, truth and wisdom through acts, words and deeds all of which are encompassed in her truly wonderful paintings which can be found on www.janeandrews.co.uk
Free the people, now.
Do it, do it, do it, do it now.
Thursday, 1 January 2015
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
I have written about my son, Tom, in this blog but not about my daughter, Florence, because she has not taken a photograph of me as part of the project. However, she is first cover for the main female lead in "Once the Musical" at the Phoenix Theatre, London and that is sufficient reason to talk about her because she has been as great an influence on my life as anyone. It is not often that one talks of one's child having that effect but, in her case, it is most definitely true.
Florence has the most delightful character. She is kind, concerned and very funny. If you have seen my Christmas Film, you will have seen my portrayal of Pat from East Enders which was inspired by Florence's own impersonation which is much funnier. Florence is also an incredibly talented actress and singer. I have two favourite stories about this. The first one involves "West Side Story" in which she played Maria in a school production when she was about 16 or 17. She had a very bad sore throat some weeks before the opening night and had been advised not to sing at all and so, during rehearsals, she had to almost whisper the words of the script and the songs. She recovered a few days before her first performance and, although we had tickets for the third night, I just had to go to see her first night. She came onto the stage and sang the opening words of "Tonight" and as the words "Only you, you're the only thing I'll see forever" the tears flowed down my cheeks - it was so wonderful. Beautifully sung and acted.
The second story involves her performance as understudy in "Little Night Music" where one night she played the part of Charlotte. There was a scene in the play where she and her husband gatecrash a house party and her husband explains that they were going to stay in a nearby hotel but, as he says, the hotel was in quarantine for.....and trying to think of what it was in quarantine for, he clicks his fingers at Florence for the answer and she cuts in with the word "Plague". Florence judged the moment, the audience, the rhythm of the speech, in fact everything beautifully as she said the word and it brought the house down.
So, I give you Florence, my ever beautiful daughter, loving mother of our gorgeous granddaughter, Mabel, superb actress, singer and musician. She is never quite sure when she will be appearing in "Once" but you can see her perform in this song on You Tube with Ronan Keating and other members of the cast. She is the singer on the far right with the curly hair
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
|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|
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.
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.
Saturday, 8 November 2014
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|
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
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
DO NOT MISS IT
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
Saturday, 11 October 2014
|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:-
And films produced by the following:-
Thursday, 9 October 2014
Saturday, 4 October 2014
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
|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.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
|OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk|
There was a young woman
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.
So, Julia Horbaschk, thank you for everything!
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
|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|
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.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
|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
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
|TIM IN HIS STUDY by Rosaline Shahnavaz|
When I came to write this post, I looked up my email correspondence with Rosaline and found that, although I had first written to her in July 2014, she had in fact first written to me in December 2013. At that time, she was working as Gabriella De Martino's assistant and Gabriella had recommended that she contact me to suggest that she take my photograph as part of the project. Rosaline was too polite to mention this when I contacted her. However, if you had seen me in December, you would have understood why I had not responded. At that time, my Parkinson's had got much worse and the number of usable hours in the day very much reduced so it is no wonder that I didn't reply although I'm sure I would have done if I had looked at her work. As it was, when I did look at her work through some links on Twitter, I was entranced. Every person is very much a part of their environment. There is a placidity in each and every portrait which shows this. And this is what Rosaline did with me. She was hardly here for any time at all but, after a quick tour of the house, she plumped for various spots that she felt were where I liked to be. And then she was gone! I hardly got to know her and her partner, Ben, who accompanied her which was a shame but, in some way, that makes her shots even more impressive.
She sent me two shots afterwards but this was the one that immediately grabbed me. It also harks back to the second photograph I had done by Mark Russell in 2007 with me sitting there surrounded by all my "stuff". And also, it is beautifully composed and captures a peacefulness in my demeanour that I noticed from her other work on her website.
I am sitting in the same room as I write this. I have just been down to the sea but I didn't swim because the tide was too far out and it would have taken me ages to get in far enough to swim properly but there was a gorgeous moment when the sun, almost orange, rose behind the pier. I love living here and that love and the satisfaction with my lot are all part of the expression on my face in this great image. It is very representative of me. Sometimes, I feel that life is going far too fast for my liking.
Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
But honestly won’t someone stop this train
- John Mayer