|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 370 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.
Saturday, 21 November 2015
Friday, 20 November 2015
|(c) Lenka Rayn H.|
I sleep on trains now, proper sleep not littles napettes here and there but this time, I wanted particularly to build up some energy for my final assault on London this week. I had been up twice already for a shoot with the charming Jay Brooks in Haggerston on Monday and also to see my lovely niece, Naomi, play Elgar's Cello Concerto brilliantly and passionately in St. Stephen's church in Gloucester Road on Tuesday, all the time travelling around looking over my shoulder for terrorists. My train arrived at Victoria on time and within about 15 minutes, I alighted at Southwark Tube Station. "I alighted at Southwark" - isn't that a phrase one would only hear an English person say? "Je descendis a Southwark", "Me apee a Southwark" "我下了车，在南华"- just doesn't sound the same does it?
(c) Neil Spence
Anyway, I made my way along Union Street and I saw the Embassy Tea Rooms before they saw me and I entered the world of Portrait Salon Exhibition 2015 created by James O Jenkins and Carole Evans, and quite frankly, it blew me away. There was some gorgeous work on display, not least the beautiful portrait of Ami by Lenka Rayn H. The peace and quiet of her contemplative pose allied to the wash of green grey that Lenka has achieved is simply stunning. Before I began to have a good look around, I bought the sticker catalogue and said hello to the smiling Jim Stephenson of Miniclick who was chatting to Alma Haser and Jocelyn Allen and I picked up a beer and started to wander and almost immediately bumped into Louise Haywood-Schiefer and her friend, Gemma Day, who is going to photograph me on Monday. Magda Rakita cut in which enabled Louise and Gemma to escape my boring story of hiring display boards at Goldsmith's College.
Then I turned back to the photography and found myself staring at General Sir Michael Jackson by Justin Sutcliffe. This is some portrait, beautifully lit and composed with the subject giving the minimum time ( I learned later that it was 7 minutes 30 seconds) for the photographer to capture what he was all about but throwing him a look that said it all. "Excuse me, but are you that model?" asked the slim, cheeky, pretty Clare Park accompanied by her loyal and equally good looking chum Genevieve Stevenson. I had noticed Genevieve's picture of her son a few minutes earlier. It is small and perfect. I didn't know it was her handsome son but I did see a clear connection with the photographer and the clever positioning behind him of the fairground trailer, the bright red of which contrasted beautifully with the unruly dark brown quiff of his hair.
(c) Genevieve Stevenson
Then they all came in a rush, Wendy Lee-Warne, who is also going to photograph me next week, Anastasia Trahanas whose photograph of me as a Dirty Old Man burns into the brains of everyone who stops to look with its mixture of vulnerability and fearsome challenge, Sarah Lee who introduces me to Justin Sutcliffe and Amit Lennon, my friend Sheryl Tait and her partner Jordi who reminds me that the last time we met was on the beach on a bitterly cold day in January when he was assisting Sheryl as she photographed me wearing nothing but a long red piece of cloth, the witty, tall and delectable Kristina Salgvik, Clare's husband Toby Sedgwick recounting jolly stories of his day with Jim Broadbent in rehearsal for "A Christmas Carol", Travis Hodges and his friend from Metro Imaging (mentioned in glowing terms by many that evening) whose name I regret I have forgotten but who engaged me in interesting conversation and Astrid Schulz with her typically zany idea for a second shoot. As I whizzed around the intoxicating riches on display, I noticed the names of many people who have photographed me and, each time, a little potted film of memory of my shoot with them flashed into my brain. This was a great evening with far too many wonderful works on display to mention specifically. Gosh, I've just remembered the amazing print of Julia Fullerton-Batten's contribution (one day, Julia, one day...) and Laura Pannack's superb shot.
But, but.......amongst all this bonhomie, the rise and fall of the hum and clatter of conversation, the squeezing past shoulders to get a better look at all the incredible work on display, a golden light burned in the corner from a picture of such excellence and grace that it made my heart miss a beat - there it goes again as I think of it - it is the photograph of me by Jennifer Balcombe. I looked at it in wonder and then turned away and dropped into Jennifer's eyes as she smiled and said hello and then gave me the warmest hug and introduced me to her boyfriend Charlie. And there I shall end this piece but not before showing you Jennifer's picture. Is it not beautiful?
Friday, 16 October 2015
|ALMOST BLUE by Michela Curti|
I have walked down this road so many times on my way to a swim. I play music as I go. I undress and then plonk into the cool water and I push out towards the rising sun and after a few strokes I turn and float on my back and it feels glorious. This day though, I am meeting Michela to whom I wrote in July after seeing her work on her website via a Twitter suggestion. What was it that inspired me so much about her work? I think it was that I understood it. I am a bear of little brain but, in this case, I felt almost that I could have taken these photographs myself. They would not have been so good of course but I felt I understood the mind behind them.
And there she is. Standing at the rail of the bandstand looking out, utterly bewitched by what she sees. I hope that she will not turn round before I reach her - she doesn't and I come up behind her and introduce myself with the words "Guess who?" She turns to say hello. She is wearing glasses and immediately, I want her to take them off so that I can see her eyes. I don't know whether we kiss or shake hands but we settle into easy conversation. I take her down on to the beach and we sit for a while and she takes this photograph. It says everything about that day and yet we met only ten minutes before. It shows that, from the very first moment we met, we knew each other. We then move round to the apron at the front of the small brick pier and this is where I take this photograph of her.
She takes more photographs during the afternoon and they are full of discovery and empathy but these two are all you need to comprehend the friendship that we were both given this day. We then go to The Mock Turtle Tea Rooms because I want her to sample the Welsh Rarebit. It is our waitress' first day and she doesn't know what Welsh Rarebit is but I point it out on the menu. Michela says that she likes it. I hope she does. We wander back to my house and on the way, we talk about everything - our families, her boyfriend Matteo, her work, my project, the sea. She struggles with her English and apologises for it but I know what she is saying. At home, I show her some of my films and the book I devised about my mother's theatrical photographs. I ask her to choose a record from the stack of 45s on the shelf in our sitting room. It is "I Go to Sleep" by The Pretenders. The words don't fit but the lazy warmth of Chrissie Hynde's voice does. The evening beckons and it is time for her to go. She lingers by the door and then we hug, as she said, like old friends. I tell Jane about my day with Michela and she smiles. In the meantime, Michela goes down to the shore and sits and thinks.
We meet one more time - the next morning, briefly, before she travels up to London with her young cousins. I arrive on the front and text her "I am here". She replies immediately "Me too" and I see her walking quickly along the path towards me. She does not have much time. We hug. She gives me a present she had forgotten to bring yesterday. I touch her cheek gently with the back of my hand and she turns to go. I turn to go and I reach the pavement just in time. I watch her walk away and for a short while after she disappears, I carry on looking at the empty space she occupied a few seconds before and then slowly I lift my eyes to the sea beyond.
It is almost blue.
Tuesday, 13 October 2015
A simple plan. To breathe life into the past. To stand where others have stood but without their fear and without their pain.
I had noticed that on Twitter, Steve was a good friend of Al Brydon and eventually I got round to looking up his website on which I left a message asking if he would be interested in photographing me. I beat him to it - he was about to write to me suggesting the same thing. After several emails back and forth, we set up a date for the shoot. He explained that he had a grain of an idea. "I am particularly interested in time and age within the landscape, with a subdivision into how man has changed the landscape and yet the landscape will endure far longer than any man. We are a frail species and yet we can cause immense change, not always for the good. Part of my project centres around quarrying, mainly in the slate quarries of the Lake district, created as the Industrial Revolution kicked in and most of the working class population migrated to cities and urbanisation - a massive social shift that saw poor living standards etc and which took a century to address."
We arranged that I would travel to Penrith where he would collect me. I had been photographed by Al Brydon a short time before and he told me that he would be joining us. At Penrith, it was Al I saw first and he greeted me warmly as the good friend he has become and then he led me past the cars parked outside the station to Steve, tall and built like the number eight he once was. But, and this is a big but, the grip of his handshake betrayed immediately the tenderness within, the vulnerability and the enthusiasm. Steve is passionate about his photography and his printing. He takes pride in what he does whether at his daily work or out in the landscape he loves. He wants more. I want more. Many of us want more but each of us deals with the denial of it in different ways. Steve is on a journey but has not yet reached his destination and it is my good fortune that we have met at the crossroads and he has placed me in front of his lens and recorded the event.
That evening and the following two evenings I ate too much, I drank too much and certainly I talked too much but l enjoyed all three...... "I wish I was smarter" - as l write this, those words written by David Bowie pound around my head to an accompaniment of drums and strings furiously playing out their pulsating rhythms and luscious melodies. Ooh - ooh - ooh -aah.
Al being there was a bonus. He came along for the ride and he observed and contributed; his presence was a gift because, as always, he brought his unique humour, sincerity and insight with him. It was a good mix.
Steve drove us patiently in his big white fuck off Audi all the way to Hodge Close in the Tibberthwaite Valley and we parked between a pair of white vans and a school mini-bus and, as I alighted, it felt good to stretch my legs and breathe in the fresh Lakeland air. We climbed through a fence next to which stood a notice saying "Do not climb through fence" and Steve and Al walked down and looked over the edge of a quarry which they said looked amazing. I took their word for it and hung back using said notice to break the vertiginous pull towards the bottom of the quarry and certain death. Al and Steve then set off to have a closer look while I sat in safety and pondered my lot. My project had taken me to so many different locations - one week Exeter, the next week Sheffield, then Nottingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Norwich and now Cumbria. Different people, same country, parts of which would be unrecognisable to the quarrymen who had carved their place in the history of the hills which were spread out before me under the warm October sun. A group of schoolchildren returned to the mini bus and then took up occupancy of the huge slate boulders which bounded the parking area and ate their sandwiches and quaffed their pop. Although they were only a few yards away, their chatter was muffled and indistinct in the empty air. After about half an hour, Al and Steve returned. Al was so overcome by what he had seen that he found it difficult to find the words to describe his feelings. It augured well for the shoot. Steve lead us to another quarry along a path through orderly piles of rubble and red rusting metal and past a boulder on which were painted the words "Danger Keep Out".
We looked around the quarry and finally, Steve chose the place for the first shot. He set up his large format camera, checked the as light reading, the focus, my position and then disappeared under the cover and checked the composition. Then he checked it all again. He withdrew from the cover, asked if l was ready and then clicked the shutter. He smiled, I smiled and Al smiled. We had begun.
|A SIMPLE PLAN by Stephen Segasby|
12th October 2015 - I was drifting in and out of sleep, looking at my watch and willing the time to pass. I had woken early to drive over to Chichester on my annual pilgrimage in memory of my darling sister, Janet, who had died on this day 19 years ago. As usual, it had been an emotional trip but, as I have said many times before, the emotion I experienced at the time of her death was so deep that it was beautiful. I think part of the reason for my annual visit to the places we used to walk together is to open up and lick the wounds that were inflicted at that time as well as to be with her again. Anyway, enough of all that - if you would like to know more then watch "Sister". The point of mentioning this is to explain that I was sleeping off one experience to ready myself for another - that is, my shoot with Steve Segasby. Finally, the train pulled into Preston where I had to change and the ornate wrought-iron bannisters on the stairs leading to the exits reminded me of the visits to Preston previously, first to to meet the lovely Pat Moss for our shoot and then to see the framer who made the frames for the Southport Exhibition; the framer who, when he was asked to make 55 frames, thought it was for just another show but quickly realised that it was something completely different when these amazing prints began to arrive at his door.
I caught the train to Penrith and, within an hour, I found myself chatting to Steve and Al Brydon in the car on the way to Steve's sister's house in Keswick where we would all be staying. It was early evening by the time we arrived in Keswick and, after dumping my stuff off in the bedroom I would be sharing with Al, we walked round to one of the local pubs and I had what the 64 year old version of myself would call a skinfull or maybe half a skinfull i.e. three pints and then returned to the house for some delicious bottled beer provided by Al. The next morning we were all up pretty early and Steve provided a wonderful cooked breakfast before we set off to the Tibberthwaite Valley. All this time, Steve and I were slowly getting to know each other as we swapped stories of our respective families, relationships and photographic projects and Steve listened patiently while Al and I purred over the three shoots on which we had both collaborated. I came to the conclusion quite quickly that Steve is a good man searching for peace in his busy life to enable him to get the time to concentrate on what he really loves - his photography and printing. He loves other things too - his daughters especially, the Lake District, History, bacon sandwiches and 'The Misfits', the little coterie of photographer friends of which he is a member - but Photography is his passion. I decided against going down into the main quarry at Hodge Close but we found another nearby with beautifully chiseled walls of different shapes, hues and colours as well as a little shallow pond which I ended up stepping into naked for one of the first shots.
I love watching a large format camera being set up and loaded and all the little knobs being twiddled. I have no idea what it all means but what I do know is that, when it ends with a click of the shutter, I feel a part of history; the history of Photography, the history of that particular camera and, in this case, a part of Steve's story.
We spent quite a time in this quarry but none of us were too fussed about this. All we had in mind for the rest of the day was to get some shots in the Cathedral Cave. Cathedral Cave - sounds wonderful doesn't it? And, do you know what? It was fucking amazing. After we parked in Little Langdale, we took a short walk along a track and then up a steep slope to a hole in the hill leading to a short tunnel which then opened up into this glorious hall of slate the roof of which was seemingly supported by a rude rod of slate stretching from the floor to ceiling and bathed in the light from a huge hole at the top out of the edges of which sprouted leaves of the brightest luminous green; the same green with which special lakeland painters must venture out at night and decorate the landscape in this extraordinary part of England. My England. For all its problems politically and socially, I feel blessed to have been born in this country and to live here as I feel blessed to have met Steve and Al and Rob Hudson and Alex Bamford and others who have taken me to places I have never seen before and enabled me to breathe in the pure air and to touch trees and rocks and sand and put my hands, feet and body into streams and walk barefooted on grass and sometimes without clothes in these magical places. And here I shall end because although we did more that day (e.g. met Alastair Ross, photographed a telephone box, had more beer, talked a lot more and then the next day, Steve and I said goodbye to Al and spent a glorious day doing more at Hope Close and ate Cow Pie in the evening in front of a fire in the pub), I want to end on magic.
Magic is defined as ''the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.'' Is anything more mysterious than the meeting of two quite different minds moulded and influenced by different genes, surroundings, familial pressures, loves, desires and yet brought together by the magic of photography to create the photographs you see here? And yet these images are not supernatural or alien in any way. These places exist. Steve photographed me in them. But they look magical. They feel magical. He captured all this by a combination of his skill, his passion, his love, his need to communicate. How do I know this? I know because I was there.
Postscript - I have chosen the image at the top to represent Steve in my project. It is simple, direct, strong, silent and full of history. One day, it will be on the wall of a gallery in an exhibition of Over the Hill and I shall look up at it and feel very, very proud.
Postscript - I have chosen the image at the top to represent Steve in my project. It is simple, direct, strong, silent and full of history. One day, it will be on the wall of a gallery in an exhibition of Over the Hill and I shall look up at it and feel very, very proud.
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
|SILENT SONG by Al Brydon and Jacqui Booth|
There is a silence in my head when I am asked to close my eyes. Of course, there are noises all around me but in my head, all is quiet. Then the shutter clicks and the volume is turned back on. I open my eyes and I look at Al and he is smiling. I turn to look at Jacqui and she is smiling too. I smile. There is nothing to say. All three of us have heard it. It is the silent song of complete contentment. Of understanding. Of companionship.
When I answered that advertisement in Time Out in 2007, I could never have known that it would lead to days like these. When I wrote to Al Brydon on 6th April 2013 asking if I could be a speck in a landscape, I could never have known that it would lead to days like these. When I wrote to Jacqui in June 2014, I did not imagine that it would lead to this. But it did. And all I do is stand there and close my eyes and this, this is what comes of it. Two images of such majesty and imagination that I find it hard to find the words to describe how I feel so I look, in silence, and then I close my eyes and I think back to the day. I see Jacqui's happy face as she clambers on to the train. I hear Al's soft voice say hello at Sheffield Station. I hear the twigs crack under our feet as we climb up to the deserted building jutting out of the bank like an Inca Palace. I hear the cars rush past, the drivers oblivious to the naked man looking out. I hear the birdsong in the quarry and the man talking about badger's poo. I hear the fizz as Jacqui and Al suck on their cigarettes. I hear Jacqui lose her phone and I hear Al find it. I hear the breeze on the trees. I hear nothing. I open my eyes and I see these images. I look out of my window, up into the sky and I wonder what each of them are doing now.
Are they too listening to the silent song?
"Nobody told me there would be days like these....."
- John Lennon
Sunday, 27 September 2015
|JOURNEYMAN by Dave Wares|
I was a solicitor from 1st October 1977 to 24th June 2006. I was articled at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex and then, when I was qualified, I joined the firm of Burley & Geach in Haslemere, Surrey first of all as an assistant solicitor and then as a partner. I worked hard, I worked long hours and towards the end, I found the job very stressful. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in November 2005 and I retired in June 2006. I think I found the job stressful because of my illness. It is a slow moving condition and certainly, the first signs had appeared in 1999 but, at that time, I had no idea that they were the symptoms of Parkinson's. It maybe that I had the disease well before 1999 but suffice to say that I was battling with an unknown foe for the last seven years of my legal career. I used to dream of giving up the law. Indeed, I had always wanted to become an actor but although I managed to do some acting and even find an agent to represent me, my financial commitments (e.g. mortgage, school fees, fast women, slow cars - spot the lie) were such that I could not really contemplate early retirement and a change of career. I would have had to be extremely foolhardy or brave to have retired in those circumstances. But it was handed to me on a plate. It was as if God had said to me [God speaks in booming voice from Heaven] "I shall give thee what thou desirest but there shalt be a catch....". The catch was Parkinson's. So Lucky Tim was plucked by the angels out of a legal career and dropped on a beach in East Sussex at sunset with a guy called Dave who photographed him facing the sun and holding a case. Hang on, I've missed a bit. The bit in between from 2007 to 2015, during which time I have been photographed by over 360 photographers. A photographic journey full of wonderful people and places. Full of images of me swimming in the sea off the coast of Scotland in my suit, lying naked on a ledge in a wood near Huddersfield, dancing on the steps of St. Pauls, running along a beach in France, dancing to Madness on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, sliding into an MRI scanner and hanging on to a branch of a tree wearing only underpants on a freezing day in February.A journey full of films about Zorro, The Black Thumbnail, Mr Merryweather QC, The Wiggle Woggles and Roger A Destroyer. A journey accompanied by my colleague Parkinson's Disease and its incessant attempts to make things more difficult by giving me a tremor, stiffness, slowness, dyskinesia, freezing of movement, slurred speech, loss of sense of smell, erectile dysfunction and loss of balance. A journey from lovely Ravenswood in Milford, Surrey to Brighton, East Sussex.
Where was I? Oh yes, Dave Wares. Well, I found out about him through a link to his work on Twitter. I went on his website and there were glorious photographs of castles, deserted buildings, landscapes, seascapes and street photography. I contacted him by email. He hadn't heard of my project but he looked at my blog and my film of my talk at Brighton Medical Centre and he said yes. So, not very long afterwards, I was on the beach at Birling Gap at sunset, holding a case and being photographed by Dave who had driven all the way from Hastings to Brighton to collect me. He had several ideas most of which were very successfully executed. This was the first to be tried - holding my case and looking out to sea and beyond. It might be thought that this was a representation of my past and in some ways it is but it also shows me now, still travelling with a case full of memories and tools with which to cope with a unknown future, a future that we all contemplate every now and then.
After these shots, we tried others including different poses in front of the sun, which was slowly sinking, and with a flash attached to an umbrella shade. We also played a bit with the case so that Dave could work on the shots on photoshop later. Dave had brought with him a snickers bar for each of us but, as the sun disappeared over the horizon, we agreed that we had done well and now it was time for a beer and something a bit more substantial to eat. All this time, we had chatted mainly about the photographs but in the car he had told me of his own photographic journey from taking snaps on a small digital camera to 35mm slides to his present DSLR. In the pub, we talked more and carried on talking on the way back to Brighton when it dawned on me how extraordinarily kind and selfless he had been to do all that driving.
I received a set of photographs from Dave shortly afterwards and I thought they were wonderful. I loved the ones with the flash which, as Dave said, had a very surreal quality to them. I was also very drawn to the two of me dancing and initially I earmarked one of those as the photograph for my project. The one of me jumping could have worked but it didn't quite. It was my idea to jump and Dave caught it beautifully but my leap wasn't as graceful as I had imagined it. In the end it was a choice between the one of me standing with the case and one of me dancing. I began to feel that the latter, as great an image as it is, was not quite as genuine as the former. This spoke to me in a variety of ways. It is a fantastic shot, it speaks of the past, present and the future. It means more. The title is Dave's but I was happy to adopt it too. Both the image and the title recall the words of Ralph McTell's song "The Ferryman". Dave has introduced yet another brilliant picture into my project. Fuelled by his imagination, his love of photography and the skills he has picked up over the years, he has created an excellent image. And, yet again, it has been proven that all photographers are really, really nice people
Oh, the traveller, moving on the land,
Behold I give you I give you the travelling man.
And he's very heavy laden
With the questions of his burden.
Lo, and I give you the travelling man.
He has crossed the mountains,
He has forded streams,
He has spent a long time, surviving on his dreams.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
|THINKING OF JANE by Valentina Quintano|
What is the connection between this photograph and Hove Cricket Ground? Well, on 11th May 2015, I was there with an old friend watching Sussex play and, during a break in play, I went to the loo and on the way, I passed a set of photographs displayed on a wall. They had been taken by Valentina Quintano who had been commissioned by FotoDocument, an art education organisation, jointly with Photoworks to create a One Planet Exhibition by means of a photo essay on the theme of One Planet Living. She was one of ten photographers chosen to represent ten sustainability principles and Valentina's was "Health and Happiness". The photographs were good. I could see that Valentina had thought very seriously about the project and what I liked particularly was the respect and admiration she showed for the people she photographed. I noted down her name and, when I got home, I looked at the work on her website. It was full of emotion and vitality and throughout there was a strong sense of empathy for people using what tools they had at their disposal to live their lives but more than that, the pictures had bravura. The movement and colour were wonderful - the billowing grey cloak being dragged across thick green grass, the rich gold of blazing candle light reflected in a man's spectacles. I wrote to her straightaway.
Valentina's response was interesting. She had had a look at my project and she proffered three potential subjects for consideration. First, she asked if there had been a specific question I had been asking myself recently either in relation to my illness or not. Secondly, she asked if I felt like sharing with her something I had never shared with anyone (a thought, action, story, nightmare or dream) and that, upon seeing my work, I felt I wanted to share with her. Thirdly, she asked if there was an aspect of my life that was normal and ordinary for me but which would not be for other people. She explained that she was fascinated by the relativity of the concept of normality. We met in a Dalston cafe (no, not that one) and had an enjoyable time talking around these questions but it needed a further meeting to settle on a specific way forward. Subsequently, we agreed a location and then, on 23rd September, my Mother's birthday (she would have been 96), the shoot took place.
We shot in the woods, the inside of the house, the pool and on the trunk of an enormous tree which had been cut down. The two photographs below are Valentina's chosen favourites and it was not easy to reject these as I loved them both. The interior shot has a beautiful soft sheen from the skylight above and my blurred face has magically come into focus in the glass of the picture on the wall. The photograph of me in the pool reflects the despair I felt (thankfully not too often) of the disease slowly pulling me under and yet paradoxically, I love the water. I am not afraid to confront and play with the idea of my mortality and Valentina is not afraid to photograph it. But the image which means so much to me is the one above. I stood there and gazed up into the sky and thought of someone, the difficulties we had encountered alone and together, her strength, her honesty. I have spoken of her before in relation to some of the photographs in my project but I have never had my thoughts of her photographed. If it is a beautiful image it is because she is so. If it is a brave image, it is because of her that I dare. If it is a brilliant photograph, it is because Valentina is an excellent photographer and she took it having planted the question in my mind.
Other people love each other, other people are beautiful, other people have honesty and courage but no-one thinks what I was thinking.
What was I thinking?
I was thinking of Jane.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
|THE TIN MAN by Sean Hawkey|
Brighton 12th September 2015. A 5th Birthday Party. A surprise birthday party for me because I had forgotten that it was on. Oh, yeah, it was in my diary but obliterating the scrawl which read "Min cluck porty" was another entry saying "
9am 1pm SEAN". So, when I walked up the steps of the Unitarian Church to meet Sean Hawkey for my shoot with him, I was pleased but slightly bemused to be welcomed by Jim Stephenson of MiniClick who told me that it was their 5th Birthday Party.
On the screen at the back of the dais inside the church were the names of sixteen photographers who were going to give talks that afternoon eight of whom had photographed me and one of whom might, just might still do so. Kevin Meredith walked past and gave me a strong, warm handshake. Kristina Sälgvik provided a friendly hug and I kissed Lou Miller hello and she asked if I would like a badge made from a Laura Pannack print. I found Sean Hawkey, whom I had never met before, in the back room. He had just finished taking a picture of the great Antonio Olmos who turned, beamed and said "Hi Tim!" as he pumped my hand. I introduced myself to Sean and he explained what he was going to do and I was allowed to queue jump much to the seeming chagrin of a woman who I think was next on the list. Nevertheless, I redeemed myself by letting a guy go ahead of me as he had to cycle to Preston to make an appointment - not sure the woman was impressed by this act of generosity. Oh, well you can't win them all.
I listened to some great talks by Alex Bamford, Niall McDiarmid and Antonio. I am afraid that I ducked out of Murray Ballard's talk to get back to Sean and his amazing camera. Ally Lethbridge, Abbie Trayler Smith and Annie Collinge and Jocelyn Allen were next up. Annie introduced herself to me beforehand and was quite nervous but spoke very eloquently. Ditto Abbie who had been allowed out to play by Harry and their son, Florian. The witty Peter Dench gave a typically amusing account of "Dench in Dallas" and he was followed by Stuart Griffiths and Ewen Spencer. Kevin Meredith then spoke very movingly of his daughter who is also five years old and already taking photographs, some of which were flashed up on the screen. He also paid a deserving tribute to MiniClick. In the meantime, the first shot by Sean was not quite to his liking and by the time he took his second photograph, I had an audience which made me a bit nervous myself but it was fascinating to see Sean create a picture of me on the tinplate. And what a superb photo it is. It is all in the eyes and I really like the fact that I am leaning slightly as it gives the image a movement that perhaps such photographs might not otherwise have.
Sean's description of the photograph is below:-
"It’s an 8x10” tintype shot with the wetplate collodion method. I used the chemical formula invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, and a Dallmeyer 3B lens made in London in 1872. Early Petzval-type lenses like this have more aberrations than modern lenses, that's why I love them, imperfections make pictures - like people - more interesting.
The chemistry has an ISO of just one, so the exposure has to be quite long. Even with a massive amount of light from a mercury vapour lamp very close to Tim, he had to sit completely still for an exposure of 6 seconds.
The image is a reversed positive, so it’s not how we see Tim in real life, it’s what Tim sees in the mirror. And the because the wetplate chemistry is mainly sensitive to invisible light, Ultraviolet, and the blue and violet part of the visible light spectrum, it’s not a record of what we see with our eyes. There’s no app to reproduce that."
I asked Billy Mather to draw the photograph by Solarixx so that I could send it to her in her hour of need. I pondered the possibility of nicking some birthday cake whilst saying hello to Ally who was sitting next to Melissa Campbell and Blake Lewis. I had to leave before the final four speakers but not before greeting the lovely Jack Latham. On the way out, I bumped into Alma Haser and Nick Ballon, talked westerns briefly with Melissa and Blake and Martin Seeds, walked back up the steps to chat to Jo Renshaw and then I was gone.
So, a lovely day full of lovely people and ended up with this amazing picture by Sean. What more could one ask for on Saturday 12th September 2015?
Friday, 11 September 2015
|APRÈS BAIGNADE by Alex Bamford|
This is the quickest shoot to blogpost ever for me. This morning, after my swim in the sea, I met Alex who had photographed me before for my project (See Here Comes the Moon). He was on a commercial shoot and on the look out to photograph people in Britain going about their business. He asked me if I would pose on the bandstand (the scene of another minor triumph of mine, the film "Let Yourself Go") and I did. This kickstarted his commission and he said that he found another eight people after me to photograph after me. Voilà!
Thursday, 20 August 2015
|Suzanne's photo of me and "my" photographers at The Lightbox Gallery Woking 2nd February 2015|
Suzanne works as a photographer for Reuters and I met her through Joanna Burejza. Suzanne photographed me for my project in Kensington Gardens in 2011 and afterwards she approached me with the idea of her photographing me being photographed by other photographers. She had spoken to Reuters and they seemed quite interested in doing a feature about it online.
The first shoot she covered was the second shoot I had with Joanna in London which took place in a machine room at the back of a cafe where Joanna worked. I was a little nervous being photographed by two people at the same time but because she knew Joanna from old and also because she is such a pleasant person anyway, I soon relaxed as Suzanne clicked away in a very professional and discreet manner. As I have said so many times before, I love the shoots most of all and to see these photographs by Suzanne was very exciting for me. For example, to see Joanna crouching down intently to photograph me as in the picture above is strangely moving.
|Joanna and me|
Me and Joanna
MILLY ANNE VINOGRADOFF
The next shoot which Suzanne covered was with Milly at her home studio in London. Milly is very much concerned with women's issues and indeed when she heard that, in the past, I had wanted to be a woman but remain heterosexual and that therefore I was in fact a lesbian, she was delighted. You will see that this is reflected in the shots below. Again, Suzanne was very discreet and, in fact, had to leave before the end of the shoot which enabled Milly and I to have some time working only with each other.
Milly applying make up for the Femina photo
The next photographer who was covered was Liz Orton who not only produced the fantastic Box photograph but also made the contact between me and Sarfraz Manzoor which led to the feature by him in The Guardian and also on the The Culture Show. She continued to photograph me after our first shoot together in 2010 in Milford, where we used to live. I think it was the third shoot this time at a studio in North London where Suzanne was present to take the brilliant photograph shown below.Liz and me
Me and Liz's light meter
Coincidentally, I was photographed by the charming Tess Hurrell quite near the studio where Liz Orton had photographed me. Unfortunately, I had not met Tess previously and this was the only shoot where perhaps it might have been better if Suzanne had not been there because, no matter how discreet she was again (and she was), Tess and I were not able to enjoy that special intimacy that exists between Photographer and subject. But then again, I would not have these great photographs from the shoot. As it happens, Tess has now moved to Brighton and we have arranged a second shoot together so all's well that ends well.
Tess and me
Tess and me
Paul is a very successful photographer in London whose work is featured regularly in many National newspapers and their supplements and I am not surprised because he is not only extremely talented but very engaging as well. Paul was working on a commercial shoot at a very nice studio in London and fitted me in which was very generous of him and he was equally gracious in agreeing to Suzanne taking photographs on the same day. What strikes me from a lot of these pictures is that there are a lot of smiles both by me and the photographer and that shows not only what fun we have but also how nice members of the photographic race are.
Paul photographing my awful feet
Paul giving direction
I thought it was the right time to revisit the earlier years of my project and in particular to publicise Suzanne's great idea and her work in the process
Thank you, Suzanne.
Monday, 10 August 2015
Saturday, 8 August 2015
|GOD ONLY KNOWS by Tee Chandler|
Around the dark red velvet curtains, a border of light is just about visible. I guess the time is - um, about 5.30am. I stretch out my hand and pick up my phone. The room is bathed in a fresh white light as it bursts into life. I focus on the screen - it is 5.19am. I think, yep, let's get up or maybe read a while or lie in bed and listen to some music. I decide to get up because I want to have a swim as the sun rises but also I have remembered that I had received some photographs I want to write about - these photographs. This is what this project has given me - not only a reason to get up in the morning but an excitement, an anticipation, an involvement in the lives of others. I dress quickly and creep downstairs and pick up my towel and place this in my bag with my swim shoes. They have large holes in each toe but they will last out the summer. As the front door clicks shut, I feel the chill of the morning breeze around my bare legs. I press play on my ipod shuffle. Noel Gallagher's gorgeous, driving guitar sets the beat for my walk down to the sea which looks flat from a distance. A few early commuters are hurrying along the pavements. No good mornings - we are all in our separate little worlds. As I come closer to the beach I think back to my swim yesterday with my friend Joan and hope the water is as calm and clear. It is. I slide down the pebbles and return the wave of a fisherman who I chatted briefly to a few weeks ago and who is standing on the other side of the apron in front of the brick pier where I swim. I undress but, in deference to my companion, I keep my pants on and wade in. It is cold, clear and wonderful. I push out with my pathetic breast stroke but it is my breast stroke. I twist, I turn, I float on my back and look up at the pale outline of the fading crescent moon. I take a breath and push forward with my head under the surface and I see white bubbles stream against the green of the water. Enough. I turn towards the shore and, as I leave the growing swell, I look up to see the fisherman wave goodbye. I dry my tingling body with my towel and take off my wet pants and stand there naked for a few seconds and face the sea. I think I am in love with it. I dress and trudge up to the road which takes me straight home. I grab a bowl of cereal and I sit down at the computer with Paul McCartney thumping his bass guitar in my ears. A flawed genius. We are all flawed but there are not many geniuses.
I stare at the screen and I think "Tee". I look at the photographs she had sent a few days ago. The photographs that had hit me for six. When I was swimming in that pool and she was photographing me, I had no idea that the resultant images would be like this. A magnificent swirl of grey smudges of light and liquid, of dark lines of eyebrow and thinning whisps of hair, of distorted bubbled boldness. Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" is on now, his urgent insistent voice moves my fingers across the keyboard as I look again at these crazy pictures and think how much they speak of the criss cross quiz of life. The calm, the passion, the buzziness, the somnolence, the glow and the flash of light. Fast. Slow. Mad. Sane.
Which one will I choose? I look at my arms outstretched as I glide forwards. Then I turn to me playing dead with my hands clinging on to - nothing. Then this mugshot. I put this up as I write these words and a new song rings in my ears. I may not always love you but as long as there are stars above you. You don't need to doubt it. I'll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I'd be without you. Ooooh. Brian Wilson. Certainly a genius. His melodies and arrangements are like this photograph. A mass of contrasting shapes and sounds woven together to produce something life affirming which moves me to write words which do not go anywhere near to explaining what this means to me. God only knows.
Friday, 31 July 2015
|WITHIN THE HEART OF ME by Lenka Rayn H.|
I almost called this "My Blue Shirt" because this shirt, one of my favourites, was blue originally but the colour has slowly drained out of it with each wash. However, what is most important to me about this image is my face. Lenka suggested that it might be nice to meet before the shoot because she did not want me to treat me as a model when I arrived but to know me more as a person. Well, we did not manage to meet beforehand and so I was determined to feel as relaxed as possible on my arrival, as if we had met before and it is this that is reflected in my gaze.
One of Lenka's favourites
What was it that I liked about Lenka's work that moved me to invite her to photograph me? Colour. There is a self portrait on her website where Lenka is in a room crouched next to a wall painted bright red. She is wearing a top which is the same colour and the buttons are undone revealing part of a white breast. Lenka's face is without expression but her stance is dramatic like the colour. It made me smile. Like these images on this page, many of her portraits have a gorgeous bleached tone from the natural light. Revelation. Many of her portraits seem to reveal the inner nature of her subject. Often their expression is blank but the more ones looks, the more one sees. And their skin is uncovered showing bare shoulders or, in her self portraits, a bare body. Emotion lies just beneath the surface. Lenka creates the atmosphere where Colour, Revelation and Emotion combine to produce images of stunning brilliance.
On 31st July 2015, the sun was shining in a blue sky dotted with high fluffy cloud. I got off the train at Forest Hill, established my bearings and got lost! A kind person put me right and I found myself walking up the wrong street but I could see from my map that it ran parallel to the right street and that there was a footpath which joined the two. The wrong street was typical of any such thoroughfare in suburban London whereas the right street was anything but. Its surface was cobbled for a start and the noise and bustle from within the attractive artisan buildings on either side revealed the feel of a thriving artistic community. It was like a small oasis tucked away and out of sight. I rang the bell on Lenka's gate and, as we greeted each other with a kiss, I knew that this was going to be a very good shoot. Her house, which she shares with her husband (also a photographer) was painted grey and soft white and beautiful photographs decorated the walls.
We chatted as I sipped a glass of water. I took off my jacket and sat on a stool in front of a back drop already set up. We started. She approved of my shirt and I told her the story of its blueness. She did not have much direction to give me; sometimes she asked me to lift a chin (I have several) or move a little forward or back. At her request, I took off my shirt. Lenka bobbed up and down covering the windows with curtain or board to keep the bright sun at bay. For some reason, I loved it when she opened a door onto a patio and positioned her tripod on the threshold and then knelt on one knee to view the shot before clicking the shutter. She had mentioned that she might exchange her digital camera for a large format camera and, when she did, I felt I had really earned it. She used up three or four plates and then, it was over. She made me some toast with cheese and salami and I showed her some of my films on her laptop. I said goodbye and walked away from an excellent shoot with a very nice woman. I received a set of images a few days later. Her favourites are shown here and, although they did not coincide with mine, they were all so uniformly good that really, I could have chosen any one of them - as you can see.