Saturday, 21 July 2007

TIM by Grayson Perry

TIM by Grayson Perry
I went to the National Portrait Gallery recently to check out Laura Stevens' wonderful photograph of me which in the Taylor Wessing Exhibition 2014 and, on the way out, I wondered what else I could have a look at as I had about 20 minutes to spare before meeting the photographer, Sheryl Tait, for a drink and a chat in the Chandos Pub just opposite the gallery. Then I saw that Grayson Perry had some exhibits displayed as part of his "Who are you?" project including his Map of Days which was hanging on a wall in the ground floor reception area. He contends that, although we may feel like the person we were years before, we are not and this map is basically a self-portrait and, loosely inspired by a map depicting John Bunyan's 1678 allegory, "The Pilgrim's Progress", Perry depicts himself as a walled city with areas corresponding to his events, experiences and emotions. He argues that we generally feel that our core, who we are, remains the same through out our lives but goes on to say this is a false belief. As I scanned the map, I thought of my project and how I had changed over time and how each of the photographers had examined and portrayed different aspects of myself and, although I was uncertain as to how much, if at all, I agreed with Perry's view, the Map and the thoughts behind it very much tied in with what I have been trying to do not only with "Over the Hill" but also the different ideas I had developed recently.

Then I remembered a day in the summer of 2007 when I went to Charleston in East Sussex with my gorgeous niece , Olivia, to listen to Perry speak. Afterwards, I queued not for him to sign a book but to ask if I could photograph him as part of another project where I was taking a photograph of someone different each day. I reached the front of the queue and introduced myself and asked him if I could take his photograph. He agreed straightaway but then asked if it was a project and I confirmed that it was and then he said "Would you like me to photograph you?" and I said yes and this is it.

Grayson by Tim

A few days after my visit to the NPG, I decided to do something I had been meaning to do for so many years. I wrote to his agents asking for Grayson Perry's permission to include his photograph in my project. The answer came back via his agents saying "Tim Andrews has Grayson's permission to use the photo Grayson took of him (Tim)". He is such an interesting guy and, as is confirmed by everything he does, so warm and human that I feel immensely proud to have been photographed by him.

So, here it is - Me by Grayson Perry - how cool is that?

GRAYSON PERRY AT THE NPG: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/graysonperry/display.php
GRAYSON PERRY - CHANNEL 4: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grayson-perry-who-are-you




Thursday, 24 May 2007

ROLLERSKATING DIVA by Andrew Firth

This photograph was taken by Andrew Firth, a freelance professional photographer with a particular interest in documentary and social photography with a slant towards fine art. His work includes landscape as well as portraiture and his subjects have included Harry Hill, Jon Snow and Joan Bakewell.
ROLLERSKATING DIVA by Andrew Firth
The issue of Time Out immediately following those in which Graeme Montgomery and Mark Russell advertised contained a third consecutive advert, this time from Andrew. It contained words to the effect of "Are you a Rollerskating Diva, are you a policeman or a professional footballer? Whatever you are, if you don't mind being photographed, text me" I replied by text saying that I had never rollerskated in my life but that I used to be a lawyer, I did have Parkinson's Disease and I didn't mind being photographed. Andrew telephoned me and said that he found my response so intriguing that he had decided to change his project and now concentrate on photographing people with illnesses.



He invited me to his home in Finsbury Park on 24th May 2007 and I spent a few hours with him whilst he first recorded an interview with me and then took some portraits. He used a Hasselblad Film camera and explained that he wanted to focus particularly on my eyes. I found this fascinating in contrast to the two previous photographers the first of whom had used a digital camera and the second a large format camera. When we had finished, Andrew cooked lunch for us both and I met his partner and lovely little daughter. It was such a pleasant experience and I really liked the photograph when I received it from him soon afterwards. I really felt that with this shot, he had achieved exactly what he had set out to do.

However, at that point, I still had no idea how all this would develop and certainly I had no intention of starting any sort of project of my own.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

AT HOME IN THE DINING ROOM by Mark Russell

AT HOME IN THE DINING ROOM by Mark Russell

In the week following the publication of the issue of Time Out in which Graeme Montgomery had advertised there was another advertisement calling for volunteers to sit for a portrait at their home by professional photographer, Mark Russell. It was strange to find another advert of this kind in the magazine because, with the advent of the internet, most classified advertisements of this kind are now to be found online.
I contacted Mark and he came down to our house in Milford, Surrey and took a series of portraits of both Jane and myself. 
Mark's work explores themes of identity and interpretation. he looks at cultural issues through portraiture and this photograph is one of a series of twenty portraits of his under the title "At Home". Each portrait in the series allows for a casual look into the sitters' lives and how their personal environment contains them.
In strong contrast to Graeme, Mark used a Large Format camera which was a beautiful piece of equipment made of wood and polished brass. Each photograph took a while to set up as Mark painstakingly went through a careful process of composing the shot and then inserting the slides. However, l was fascinated by the whole procedure of taking the photograph and, in particular, how Mark would spend some time adjusting the position of the camera, the focus and checking the light and then finally would insert the slide containing the film and then,"click", the photograph was taken.
Mark Russell
My room at my office was very untidy with files all over the desk and all over the floor. Very soon after I retired, l commandeered our dining room for writing and dealing with household admin and gradually the room took on the appearance of my old office. Mark was keen to capture that and other small but significant details such as the shape of my wallet stuffed into the pocket of my jeans and the sports books l had inherited from my late cousin which l intended to sell and which were all shoved into a collection of carrier bags under the pianola.
It is now three years on from when that photograph was taken and we are having to sell the house to rid ourselves of a large mortgage so this image is, in many ways somewhat poignant as it records what that room looked like. The pianola has now gone, sold on Ebay in a move to de-clutter the room to make it more attractive to potential buyers. My daughter was particularly sorry to lose it as it was on that that she first learned to play the piano. Her framed grade certificates are seen hanging on the wall beside the pianola. She was not at home when the buyer came to collect it but Jane climbed into the back of the van and played a short extract from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for old time's sake.
The ornate wine glasses on the mantlepiece above the fire were given to me by an old friend of mine called Gina, under her Will. She had informed me previously, over a glass of sherry, that l was to inherit them and l promised her that every time l drank from them, l would give offer a toast in her memory. We always had our Christmas lunch in the dining room and, before we started eating, we toasted the Queen, absent friends, the cook (Jane) and Gina.
So, a photograph with a great deal of resonance and detail and full of memory.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

NUMBER ONE by Graeme Montgomery

NUMBER ONE by Graeme Montgomery
On 7th May 2007, I walked into Graeme Montgomery's studio in Clerkenwell and, without realising it, my project had begun.
Graeme was extremely friendly and immediately put me at my ease. I wasn't frightened by the prospect of being photographed in the nude because for many years in Formentera I had walked and swam on the beaches there where many people are both clothed and unclothed. However, I was very excited about being photographed by a professional photographer.
Graeme had a wonderful studio kitted out with all the equipment - clearly he was a very successful practitioner of his art. He explained that this was the start of a project to photograph 'real' nudes with a view to publishing a book and that, eventually, I would receive a copy of the book and be invited to its launch. He intended to photograph the first 100 people to walk through his door and I was number one.



First of all, we used a grey back drop and, at Graeme's request, I assumed a number of poses both standing and sitting whilst he clicked away on this enormous digital camera attached to a large metal tripod on wheels. The camera was connected to his computer and, after every shot, Graeme would lean over to the screen and check what he had done. He seemed to be very clear and confident in what he wanted and worked quickly and efficiently. After a while, we had a break and looked together at the images. They were wonderful. The clever lighting picking up the lines and curves and the hairs covering my body like a soft carpet of down. I looked beautiful. We had a look at the second collection of photographs which again were superb. He asked me about myself and why I had wanted to be photographed and I told him briefly about my life as a lawyer and how through having Parkinson's Disease, I had come to answer his advertisement in Time Out.


I left after about two hours and walked out into the spring sunshine of London, my favourite place. I was born in London and lived there for the first thirteen years of my life. I returned later to read Law at Queen Mary College in Mile End and then returned again to complete my professional examinations at The College of Law in Lancaster Gate. During vacations, I worked in Barker's in Kensington whilst first living in Chelsea and then Meard Street off Wardour Street and then I worked at The Shaw Theatre in Euston whilst living in Leytonstone. Love, love, love it.
As I walked down the road after saying goodbye to Graeme, to the pub in Farringdon to have lunch, I thought how bloody lucky I was to have Parkinson's Disease. It had enabled me to stop working and now I had all the time I wanted to do anything I liked. That day, I had been photographed by a professional photographer and I looked ok.  I didn't look like a middle-aged fat man getting his kit off. I looked like me. Human. Not perfect but not imperfect.
A few weeks later, the print of the photograph arrived in the post and I felt very proud as I pulled it out of the wrapping. I looked very potent in the photograph. Not sexy or sensuous but strong and masculine. I showed it to Jane. I wanted to hang it on the wall straightaway but the kids wouldn't have been keen so I put it away.
About two years later, once the project was under way, I wrote to Graeme saying that since I last saw him, the project had unfolded and I explained that I wanted his permission to use his image. For some reason, I was afraid that he would say no. However, I need not have worried. He replied saying that my email had made his day and told me that, since we were last in contact, his life had changed. He had fallen in love and his partner was now expecting his baby and that he was very excited about the project and that, of course I could use his image in the exhibition which by then I had begun to plan. Happy, happy day.
I decided to call it Number One because I was the first of Graeme's subjects to pose for this set of photographs and he was the first photographer I had seen as part of the project which had subsequently unfolded.
http://www.graememontgomery.com/