Tuesday, 27 December 2011



My son Tom has a very good eye, he is an excellent natural artist and he understands not only the significance of things but, most important of all, composition. This photograph is a case in point. Plenty of people have taken photographs of hands before. A number of photographers have photographed my hands before so it is nothing new. However, the viewer wonders what else is there to this man of whom we have had a small glimpse? In this photograph, we ask what is this person like whose hand we see resting on his knee? 

Tom shoots with care and intuition and, as a consequence, produces wonderful, clear images that tell stories that we want to hear. For the record, this was taken on a day over the Christmas break in 2011 when we went for a beer together at a local pub in Brighton. There are few greater pleasures than having a beer in a pub with anyone but particularly with your son.  There are very few greater pleasures than spending time with Tom - wit, artist, photographer, friend, raconteur and crazy mixed up kid.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011



MAN DANCING by Alicia Clarke

I came across Alicia's work because the model (and now brilliant photographer) Alex B.,was photographed by her. I looked at Alex's blog because she had posted a very kind comment on my blog at the same saying that she and I had both been photographed by Neil Huxstable. Anyway, I liked Alicia's photographs of Alex and so looked up her website and found some more rich material and so I wrote to her and she responded very enthusiastically.

She had some ideas almost immediately and these were first photographing me dancing and falling onto a mattress which wold be edited out afterwards. Secondly, she had taken some highly lit shots of a male body builder and she wanted to try the same on a normal male body. Thirdly, she had always been fascinated by Muybridge and wanted to try the same with me. And, finally, she wanted me to don a corset and pose like the female model in the iconic photograph by Horst. Well, I was up for all that! I went to London for some meetings and we agreed to meet in Old Street. I was late because of the other meetings but she had been very patient and we had a good chat over a coffee so I was really looking forward to our shoot together.

We met at her studio in Greenwich on 13th December 2011 and we got on so well together, taking up where we had left off over the coffee. Alica has a lovely happy smile that immediately engages with you and puts you at your ease. I think we tried the body builder shots first and they worked quite well. The Horst shot was next and, although Alicia had brought one of her corsets along (she used to be a burlesque dancer), it didn't fit but we managed to wrap it round my huge muscular chest with some masking tape. The next up was the Muybridge shot. For some reason we were talking about dancing - I suppose because we had a lot in common; she had been a dancer, as had my mother and I had danced on the Fourth Plinth in 2009 - and, as I posed for the Muybridge shots, I told her that one of my favourite songs to dance to was "Take on Me" by Ah-ha. I told her that I had never danced to it before but had always wanted to but that I was at my niece's birthday party and the DJ put it on (possibly at my request) and I dragged Jane up on to the dance floor and I had the dance of my life. Whilst I was recounting this story to Alicia, the radio was on and suddenly they played "Take on Me" and so I asked Alica if she minded me dancing rather than just standing as she had asked me to do. She said yes and so that is how this photograph ended up being a diptych.

Finally, we did the dancing/falling shots and I really felt in my element here and I loved having a go at getting the right movement as I fell. The whole shoot was such fun that I just wanted to do it all again. I feel the same way now just writing about it!

We finished off chatting and she showed me some of her burlesque performances on You Tube and I showed her some of my highbrow stuff as well. A lovely, lovely afternoon. And then, I get some photographs! How cool is that? She sent some unedited dancing/falling ones first and then the others followed on later. Her favourite was the Muybridge collection. She felt that the two of these together along with their titles, talk about pigeon-holing people and she felt were a true collaboration of where she started the idea (Man with Parkinson's) and where I took it (Man Dancing). Although I was more swayed towards the Dancing/Falling pics, I was very happy to go with her choice. A great shoot, some great photographs and a great photographer - what more could you want? Well, more of the same I suppose!

"My work explores concepts of identity and the body. I believe that any portrait or
image of the body becomes a cultural site where the conflicting concerns of agency,
representation and the viewers consumption interplay.

I’m currently interested in looking at constructions of identity through movement and am
fascinated by the work of the ‘father of motion pictures", Eadweard Muybridge.

For these pictures I collaborated with Tim using his involuntary movement alongside the Muybridge trope as a starting point to examine the idea of the inscription of identity on the photographed body, its methods, problems and possibilities."
                                                                                        - Alicia Clarke

WEBSITE: http://www.aliciaclarke.com

Thursday, 1 December 2011

AUDERE EST FACERE by Laurence Winram

AUDERE EST FACERE by Laurence Winram

                                                                           Laurence and his little prince

Lucy Kendra had arrived during the shoot to film some more of me and Laurence was assisted by as really lovely guy called Angus Behm. As Laurence called it a day, they all applauded and I felt really warm inside just like a piece of toast with lashings of marmalade on it - mmm!

Laurence kindly dropped me off at the railway station and found the right platform and gave me a huge hug which had love and friendship written all over it. He is a gorgeous, gorgeous man and a great, great artist. He sent me a picture almost immediately but then fine tuned it and this is the brilliant result. It is brilliant isn't it? Now you can see why on that day in Jules' flat, I thought to myself "I must be photographed by his man" - and it has happened!!

                                                               Lucy Kendra, Moi and Angus

LINK TO WEBSITE: http://www.lwinram.com/index.php

LINK TO FLICKR: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurence_winram/

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

HIGH LIFE by Sylwia Kowalczyk

                                                 HIGH LIFE by Sylwia Kowalczyk
I came across Sylwia's work in the wonderful Professional Photographer magazine - I have found so many brilliant photographers through that publication - and I wrote to her on 14th September 2011 asking her if she might be interested in photographing me. I was so thrilled when she said yes and especially pleased when she informed me that she lived in Edinburgh because, by then, I was in contact already with the irrepressible Claudine Quinn and the lovely Laurence Winram both of whom lived in the magnificent City of Edinburgh and had agreed to photograph the incredible me (you can't get many more adjectives in a sentence like that). Within minutes, well, maybe days - ok, it was probably within weeks but it was definitely really quick - I had set up what is known in the business as a Triple Shoot with the three of them which was lucky because, as there were three of them, it meant that they got one each.

There was a huge crowd in Edinburgh station on my arrival - well, there were quite a few people on the train and it's a busy station - and I was met by Claudine who whisked me off by taxi to her place and within a very short  time had me wearing very little (nothing) doing bizarre things with shaving foam and bits of string.......but that's another story. The following day found me in the more sedate surroundings of Laurence's studio which he had loaned to Sylwia who welcomed me with a beautiful smile and introduced me to her husband, Simon Crofts, another talented photographer and all round nice guy, who was going to assist her. 

We did some straight portraits inside including this great shot which I had no hesitation in choosing for my project. I cannot recall whether Sylwia had always intended to shoot me standing on an upturned milk crate but it was very appropriate because I really like milk. No, seriously, it was apposite because I am not fond of heights and my balance is not what it was and so standing on something like that (even if it is only 12 inches or so off the ground) can present problems so there is an element of humour which might not be immediately apparent. But it is a very good shot not least because that was me on that day in Edinburgh.

If it wasn't enough to be photograph by the fantastic Sylwia Kowalczyk, she and Simon bought me a lovely lunch afterwards after which I bade them a sad farewell and returned to the wacky world of Quinndom.......but that's another story. This story is about a superb artist who is very serious about her work, who knows what she wants and invariably gets it and produces masterpieces in action.

Simon, me and Sylwia

LINK TO WEBSITE: www.sylwiakowalczyk.com

FLASH by Lucy Kendra

Still from the film "FLASH" by Lucy Kendra

In 2011, I met Claudine Quinn at her degree show at Free Range in Brick Lane and subsequently travelled to Edinburgh and experienced one of the most enjoyable of all my shoots. Claudine introduced me to her friend Lucy Kendra who asked if she could film some of the shoots that I had arranged both with Claudine and Laurence Winram. 

The film is "FLASH" and there is a link to it on Lucy's website. It is full of charm, love and beauty, very much like Lucy herself. Of course it is, because you invest whatever you do with whatever is inside you and this is what she has done. 

As I write this, I am travelling on the train from Eastbourne back to Brighton after meeting Alison Bettles to talk about our shoot in the new year and bumping into the the lovely and formidable Emma Morris on the stairs. As I look out of the window of the train, my mind goes back to my first trip to Edinburgh and the fun we had and soon I am hoping to return there. I am looking now at the half ploughed fields as we whizz by and I imagine myself walking over the dark sticky mud and rich green turf which lie side by side like blankets that "lovers have played on and laid on while listening to songs that were sung". I can almost smell the earth and taste the salt on my top lip as my nose runs in the harsh November wind. A crow lands on the edge of the grass and bends down to pick up some morsel and then, with a lazy flap of its wings, lifts off the ground and, for a moment, is silhouetted against a sky of watercolour grey. John Lennon is singing on my ipod "look at me, who am I supposed to be?". A flawed genius -  we are all flawed but very few of us are geniuses but we can, each one of us, look out of a train window and wonder at the beauty of this world. 

Once in Brighton, I decide to walk rather than wait for the Number 6 bus to Waitrose but then, as I arrive at Churchill Square, I see a Number 1 bus and I hop on. It is muggy and the windows are steamed up and it is pretty full but, as I am only travelling two stops, I stand by the door but then receive a poke from an old woman's umbrella as she says that she wants to get by. I explain that I am getting off at the same stop but that doesn't really satisfy her as she still seems affronted by me standing in her way. I thank the driver as I alight. I hop skippity jump over the road to the house and I smile as I see Jane through the lighted window chatting to Tom. More beauty. 

FLASH was commissioned by SOUND - Scotland's Festival of New Music 2013 - as part of their See:Hear strand which focused on the relationship between sound and image. I commend it to you with knobs on.

PASSWORD for film on Vimeo (if necessary) : Raspberry

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

HEAD TO HEAD by Claudine Quinn Part One

HEAD TO HEAD by Claudine Quinn

Where do I start? With a treatise on the Geography of Plates? With our first meeting at Free Range? With the word "Yes"? No, I need to go back further.

There is a pipe. In a park in Finchley, North London. It stands in the corner of what we called The Fort which is a square construction of stone which overlooks the lawn which leads down to a pond which, in those days (the days of my early childhood) was full of tadpoles and newts. The park was only about a hundred yards from our house. It was a magical place where my siblings and I would play for hours on end and our imaginations ran amok and we just mucked about. When I was very little, I would stand on the pipe to look over the wall of the fort. 

Once one has had those times, one never forgets them and, certainly, in my case, I travelled my world always on the look out for the same feeling of liberation and fun. That is exactly what Claudine and I did during those few days in November 2011 - we mucked about. With paper plates and red ribbon. Naked with shaving foam and whipped cream with berries on top. With stones and pebbles and anything else we could lay our hands on. It was a serious photographic shoot but we had such fun. Such fun.

In the summer of 2011, I went to the degree shows at Free Range. I was never invited but I liked to go on their opening nights as the atmosphere was good and the photographers themselves were there and there was always the chance of chatting to them about their work although I often found that a personal approach at a show about my own project was never quite as effective as my standard email. It must have something to do with the charisma I give off when I meet people for the first time. This particular day, I came across Claudine's section where she had set up a collage of sorts of square prints of photographs of her body parts connected by photographs of drainpipes which you can find reproduced on her website under the title of Milkyway. There was something about this display that intrigued me - I suppose it was an interest in the mind behind it. Claudine was there but she was in the middle of a conversation with someone and was gabbling away in her strong Irish accent. I waited but there was no let up in the gabble so I picked up her comments book and wrote "YES!" in it. Claudine saw this out of the corner of her eye (the right one) and immediately diverted her attention to me and we started chatting and I told her of my project and she was very enthusiastic. I subsequently discovered that she is very interested and enthusiastic about most things. Her mind races at 100 mph and her mouth manages quite easily to keep up.

I wrote to her the next day and she replied, thanking me for the YES which she thought was direct and to the point and had made her smile. She thought my project was really interesting and was intrigued not only by the sheer scale of it but also the multi-faceted nature of having so many viewpoints exposed. She could see how her style and interest in working with the human form might lend itself well to my project. She added "Frustration, control, a desire to connect and the oscillation between constructing and deconstructing are at the core of my work. I would definitely be keen to discuss the possibility of working together further". Bingo!


And we did work together but it didn't feel like work. We had so much fun - from the moment she met me at Waverley Station to when Laurence Winram picked me up from her flat on the last day. We mucked about and her lovely boyfriend, Jules, joined in when he got back from work and played his guitar as we sang songs and I beat the butter out of shape and Lucy Kendra also played her part and we scoffed cakes and biscuits and crumpets and I plopped a plateful of cream onto Claudine's face and felt bad about it afterwards. On the last morning of my stay at their flat, Claudine said goodbye with a card made of two paper plates and I left and became a grown-up again with grown-up paranoia and moods and time passed until I returned in 2014 and we looked through the shots together. This was one of them but the plan was to produce a Bayeux-like tapestry of our intertwining paths and who knows? It could happen one day. 

And Pooh looked out of his window and he saw a thought drift out of his head like a bubble and watched as the breeze lifted it up over the trees and the hills of England and carried it northwards. Piglet, who had been sitting with Pooh and chatting about that and this but perhaps more of this than that, felt his ears twitch in the way they do when you don't know quite what is going on. He asked nervously "What is it Pooh? Not a Heffalump again?" and his ears felt as if they were going to fall off as they twitched more than necessary. But Pooh's ears weren't listening. His little brain was in Scotland, Edinburgh to be precise and he felt a hand take hold of his paw and that dancing feeling entered his legs and he danced and danced until he was as dizzy as a really dizzy thing. And the next thing he knew was waking up in his little bed and thinking"That was a good dream. I must tell Christopher Robin all about it". But before that, a noise from his tummy reminded him that he needed a little smackerel of something to set him on his way. He toasted a crumpet and poured honey on top. He looked at the crumpet. It reminded him of something but he could not work out what it was. By the time he had finished eating it, he had forgotten what he was going to do. So, he went out to find Piglet and, when he found him, he asked Piglet if he could remember what he had forgotten but Piglet had remembered to forget it too and so they just mucked about. At the end of the day, Pooh cuddled down into his bed and closed his eyes and, after a while, an image of a pipe in a fort in a park came into his mind and he remembered what he was going to tell Christopher Robin and he smiled himself to sleep. At about the same time, the bubble of thought landed in Edinburgh......

LENS ON LEGS WORKSHOP: http://www.lensonlegsworkshops.co.uk/

Thursday, 24 November 2011

TOUCH, PAUSE, ENGAGE by Niccolo Fano

TOUCH, PAUSE, ENGAGE by Niccolo Fano
I first met Niccolo when he was assisting the great Karen Knorr on shoot in North London.  He was very attentive and, although it was a long day, his enthusiasm really helped those of us who were flagging as the shoot drew to its close. I have to say it was such an enjoyable and inspiring shoot, that l was very happy to accommodate him when he approached me some months afterwards witha request that I partake in his own project which involved Identity and the Limitations of Photographic Portraiture. 

The idea was for him to photograph a selection of subjects from all walks of life and have a QR code which is then printed over the subject's face which in turn is linked to the subject's own website, blog, twitter and/or facebook. The QR code is placed over the subject's face to conceal their identity. The idea was to go beyond what is purely visual in a portrait and to elevate the portrait by being able to access information on the subject when the photographic image is scanned.

And so it was that I presented myself  at his studio in Bethnal Green on 24th November 2011 and met Niccolo again and his assistant Flavia Cortonicchi. The shoot was short and sweet but long enough to watch how Niccolo went about his work efficiently and smoothly. He has no need to worry about the future because he is decisive, has a good even temperament and takes excellent photographs. What more could you want?

Link to website : http://www.niccolofano.com/

Tim and QR Code

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

BATH TIME by Jo Stowell

BATH TIME by Jo Stowell
When Jo responded to my initial email, she asked what I liked about how she saw the world. I replied saying that, on her website, she describes herself as a stalker and that I liked that because it meant she was interested in what she saw and wanted to look further. Her work involves love, companionship, people, bodies, human relationships, ritual but that is by no means an exhaustive list because she is forever searching and discovering or rather, uncovering. She never stops. She is not really a stalker in the modern sense - she is a hunter but invariably she throws the fish back in the sea unharmed but perhaps a little startled and certainly enriched by its brush with Jo. 

So, anyway Jo said yes to being in my project and said that she wanted to come over to my place and document my day. As it was, she concentrated on certain aspects and areas of the house as you will see from her great little film of our day together.

She travelled all the way from Bristol to see me with her friend Carolyn, who was charming - they both  were.  I met them at Brighton station and saw Carolyn first who pointed over to Jo who had already started taking photographs. They came back to the house and met Jane who then cleared off and left us to it. I didn't have to show Jo round the house because she set off on her own and did it herself. I think we may have had lunch first and then, whilst Carolyn watched one of my films, Jo shot some photographs of me undressing in the bedroom, sitting on the bed, having a bath and even sitting on the loo. Then we ventured down to the sea and Jo chatted and clicked away at all and sundry, collecting snippets of people's lives and characters in her own unique way.

I loved the selection of images she sent to me but this one was my favourite by miles. It has everything - light, life, form, a sense of place, and weirdly, it has colour in the broadest sense. It is open, honest and revealing and it says as much about Jo as it does about me. It encapsulates the day and our relationship perfectly because it is such a true reflection of where we both were at that moment.

Jo is a wonderfully intuitive photographer and explorer. She doesn't take normal pictures and, therefore, she will not be everyone's cup of tea (who is?) but she assails one's senses and stirs things up but she does it with a big brassy brash smile. She is a beautiful person. Not easy because she continuously challenges one's perceptions but meeting her is all the more exciting for that.

And she owes me three quid.

Jo Stowell

Saturday, 5 November 2011


My project has been featured in the November edition of the BJP in the Endframe section. When they interviewed me online for the article, they asked me to provide some photographs from the project. It is always difficult to choose photographs for such a purpose because I am so fond of every one of them.
However, I chose about eight images including "In the Cellar" by my wife Jane and it was that one that they chose to accompany the piece. In fact, they had not realised the the photographer was my wife until they asked the question "Where did you find her?" and I answered "At home!"

Unless you are already aware, Jane is a painter and this is the link to her website www.janeandrews.co.uk.
She does have a very good eye when it comes to photographs and I am not surprised that her image was the one chosen to represent the project in the article.

I know that I have shown this photograph before but I will insert it below just in case some people have never seen it.
In the Cellar by Jane Andrews

Thursday, 3 November 2011

SAFE by Julian Holtom

SAFE by Julian Holtom

Meeting Jules was so unlikely. First of all, I came across the work of Solarixx and wrote to her asking if she would  photograph me only to find that she lived in Argentina. Nevertheless, Sol suggested that she arrange for a photographer she knew in Yorkshire to photograph me and then for him to send the raw image to her so that she could work on it in her usual way in order to produce the final image. As it happened, I arranged a shoot in the North of England in November 2011 which coincided with Sol's trip to Yorkshire. Jules alerted me to this and so it was that, on 3rd November 2011, Jules picked me up at Huddersfield Station and took me back to his home to meet Sol.

Jules photographed me that day too initially inside but this is a shot he took when we ventured into the communal grounds of the converted mansion house in which his flat was situated. Jules describes this as a test shot but I think it is so much more than that; not only is it a brilliant portrait but also it records the moment just before I decided to forsake the safety of solid ground to climb up the bank behind and hang onto the roots of a large tree stark naked - hence the title. See my post on Sol's photograph.

Jules was absolutely charming all day and very hospitable. He is a very serious photographer but has fun as well and that is a great combination which feeds his work and his ideas. So, an unlikely meeting but a very fortuitous one. 

An interior shot

Jules with Sol - a lovely couple

LINK TO WEBSITE: http://www.jaholtom.com/#



I came across Sol's brilliant work on one of my trawls through Flickr in Autumn 2010 and immediately I approached her although I think that I was aware that she lived abroad somewhere and the chances of working with her were pretty remote. She responded positively but, sure enough, she lived inArgentina! However, she hatched this idea that she could arrange with a photographer who lived in Yorkshire for him to photograph me in accordance with her  instructions and then for to work on the photograph in order to produce the final image. The creation of her photographic images was so impressive and seamless that I was more than happy to proceed on this basis.

Sol then put me in touch with Jules Holtom who was to be entrusted to photograph me. However, although we exchanged correspondence over the next few months, it wasn't until August 2011 that Sol told me that she was planning to come to England later in the year and so would be able to photograph me herself. Yippee! And so it was that on 3rd November,  Jules collected me from Huddersfield station and took me back to his place in the Yorkshire countryside to meet this petite, shapely pocket dynamo with a lovely fresh smile called Sol.  They both made me so welcome and we chatted about my project and their work and we had something to eat and eventually we got started with some interior shots. Jules' flat is in a large converted house with grounds which comprise some formal gardens and also some woodland and, after completing the interior shots, we set off to a location in the woods that they had both already chosen. lt was a  fairly steep high bank topped by a large tree some of the curling roots of which were exposed. They asked me to stand clothed in front of the bank whilst they photographed me but I looked back at the tree and saw that there was a small rocky platform just below the roots and I said that that was where I really ought to be. I tested the strength of a sapling growing halfway up the bank and, using this, I hauled myself up to the rocky platform and slowly and carefully undressed.  Then Jules asked if I could climb across to a higher rock. I was doubtful that I could but I made it and then hooked my left arm around a root and stretched back as far as I could hoping that I became one with the roots. I envisaged how good it could have looked but it still did not prepare me for the outstanding image produced by Sol.

Sol said that normally she hates explaining her pictures but she would make an exception as I was involved in it. The stitches represent the sacrifice, the pain, the loss. I am lying naked in contact with the earth i.e. in contact with my origins and facing the ray of light enjoying my new state.

It is the most brilliant, brilliant photograph and completely encapsulates how I feel about my current ill self and my place in the world and my destiny. It is a continuance of my preparation for this part of my life by the guardians in Sisters of Mercy by Kitthunya Ngaothongpaitoon (see earlier post). I have an inner strength and belief that will take me through these trials and get me to the other side wherever and whatever that other side might be. It just sums everything up. I am almost too emotional looking at the image to express how I feel about it. 

It is simply beautiful.

Link to Website: www.wix.com/Solarixx/Works

Jules and Sol
Sol has now fallen on hard times - please help if you can - https://www.gofundme.com/savesolarixx

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

ROSIE HARDY'S WORKSHOP with Holly Griffiths, Karl Young, Lisa Zilver, Krishna Haveliwala and Darren O'Rourke

When I approached Rosie Hardy to ask her if she would take part in my project, she asked me in turn if I would mind the shoot being part of one of her workshops and immediately I agreed not having been involved in a workshop before, photographic or otherwise. I met Rosie at her apartment in Manchester and she introduced me to the five people whom had signed up for it and they were all very nice and what is more, very keen and willing to learn.  I have described the shoot already in my blog entry on Rosie so I won't bore anyone by repeating it all. However, I shall comment on each of the images sent to me subsequently by the class members.
CARDS by Holly Griffiths
Holly sent me three images afterwards, all of which were excellent and so it was difficult to choose just one but this one shaded it. I like the fixed gaze which is seemingly oblivious to the  cards falling about me. To me the cards represent metaphorically the fates that befall individuals who contract one disease or another or whose lives cross with others in a way in which the road one takes is fixed by that chance occurrence or meeting. How I managed to get Parkinson's Disease, I have no idea. Was it because I caught Polio when I was seven or was it because the fields behind our house in Sussex
were sprayed with insecticide in my teens or because I used insecticide on the bloody Mare's Tail in our garden at Ravenswood? Who knows but what I do know is that because I contracted the condition, my life changed totally and on 2nd November 2011, Holly took this great photograph which I am proud to include in my project.

JUST ONE LOOK by Karl Young
When the class clicked away, I tried to ensure that I looked at each of them as they took their photograph  as often I like to engage directly with the photographer and, ipso facto, the viewer. I want them to see into my psyche and connect with me. This image by Karl does just that I feel. It says that I know that you know what I know. Even though we are strangers, we are fellow human beings. It is a beautiful photograph because of that but my pose is only part of the reason for that. Karl took loads of photos that day but he recognised something in this image that said a lot about the person I am and how I communicate with people. It is quite simply excellent and certainly stands comparison with all the other pictures in my project.

GROWING UP by Lisa Zilver
This image by Lisa does not engage with the audience in the same way as Karl's pic in that I am not looking directly at the camera. However, it works really well. I love the movement in the photograph which says as much as any close up gaze might do about the person I am. I am very conscious these days about the way I represent myself to the world physically and intellectually. My intellect is not affected directly by the disease but my body certainly is and, when I shake uncontrollably, it does have an impact on my mental state as well as send out mixed messages to those who come in contact with me. Is he a Spaz or what? I really like this photo because the cocked leg, the outstretched fingers of my left hand and the flabby body say so much about who I am but mostly I like it because it has a voyeuristic element to it. The photographer is looking round from the side and you wonder why she is and moreover, you wonder what the fuck is going on. Great. When Lisa sent me this image, she said that she had seen all the other wonderful pictures on my blog and she felt so special now - and so she should not because of the other photographs but because she has produced something wonderful herself.
KEEPING MY NOSE CLEAN  by Krishna Haveliwala
When I was at school in the 1960s, I found myself in the lowest stream of my particular year because the previous year I had joined the school right at the end of term and so I had no idea what they had been taught and so, after years of being top of the class at my Prep School, I suddenly found myself relegated to the thugs' class because basically I had failed almost all of the end of year examinations the results of which dictated which stream you entered in the following year. My mother had no idea really about all this and so no-one complained and, as a consequence, I kept finding myself in trouble as I adopted the mores of the lowest stream. On one such occasion, the Metalwork teacher told me to 'keep my nose clean' in future. I had never heard this expression before, so I touched my nose thinking that a bogey was hanging from a nostril whereupon Mr Hall clipped me round the ear and and sent me off on a run around the sports field. What has this to do with Krishna's brilliant photo? Well, it forms the title but also says that even the simple act of blowing one's nose resonates with one's past and, therefore, it can speak volumes. Again, an interesting and intriguing choice of photograph.

A GROWING ARTIST by Darren O'Rourke

And finally, we return to the weird guy watering something in the basement. Darren's thinking was to show the whole change of lifestyle that I had gone through, leaving a career in Law behind (burying the law books with the advocate's wig thrown aside for good measure whilst, at the same time balancing on one leg suggesting the scales of justice) and now pursing my creative side which has allowed me to blossom with joy (the growing flower is a Gardenia which is a symbol of Joy). I never fail to be touched by the amount of thought which the photographers I have met put into the creation of their respective images. I feel very humbled by this. All good photographers feel and think in this way and Darren is no exception. It is a very moving photograph even if one is unaware of the background. Darren is an extremely good photographer as you can see.


                                            Rosie and the Gang plus cat

SHIT HAPPENS by Rosie Hardy

SHIT HAPPENS by Rosie Hardy

I first came across Rosie's work on Flickr probably via Miss Aniela (Natalie Dybisz) as they not only know each other but their work has some similarities. In early 2010, I sent a message to Rosie on Flickr as I couldn't find any other contact details and, sure enough some five months later, I received a positive response from someone acting on her behalf. Well, then we got embroiled in our move and nothing more happened until I  came across her work again and remembered how brilliantly inventive she could be. This time, I wrote to her direct and she replied immediately with enthusiasm. 

We set up a date for a shoot in Manchester which  I managed to combine with two others and she asked me if I minded partaking in one of her workshops. I said that I didn't and so it was that on 2nd November 2011, I bowled up at her flat in Manchester to be welcomed by this small bundle of energy that is Rosie. She introduced me to the five people attending her workshop and explained that the first shoot would take place in the underground Car Park in her building. We all trooped down there and I wrapped a towel around me and pretended that I was watering a plant growing out of the concrete floor. The idea was to photoshop the image afterwards and perhaps show the concrete cracking. Then we went outside and, witha view to producing the "Shit happens" photo, Rosie photographed me in the garden standing with my arms crossed and then again around the corner with playing cards thrown into the air. They all snapped away and then we returned to her flat for the most fascinating part of of the morning when Rosie showed how she manipulates images using photoshop. 

She came up with this fantastic image which has a great deal of humour in it and connects up neatly with my general attitude to Parkinson's Disease - it is shit but it does happen and you have to get on with in it.

Rosie is a delight and an extremely talented photographer  and she led the workshop with such aplomb and produces such wonderfully creative work that I am tempted to say that she will achieve great success but I won't because she has already done that.

And she's only twenty-one!!

                                                                                               Me and Rosie


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

PUMPKINHEAD by Jill Jennings

PUMPKINHEAD by Jill Jennings

I am not in the habit of reading YOU magazine so I must have picked it up somewhere like the doctor's waiting room but it was very lucky that I did because in there was a photograph by a photographer called Jill Jennings. I looked up her website and I liked her work a lot (there is a great portrait of George Best on her site - check it out) and so I wrote to her asking if she would partake in my project and she said yes. It is so nice when people say yes.

We corresponded through the summer of 2011 and eventually I arranged to stay with my cousin near Manchester and combined this with a stop off at Stockport where Jill lives on 1st November 2011. Normally, I try to meet the photographer before the shoot so that we get to know each other. It helps a lot during the subsequent shoot if we have got to know each other previously but in Jill's case this wasn't a problem at all because we got on very well right from the start. She provided me with lunch and, whilst we were eating, she explained what she had in mind. First of all, as it was Halloween and, inspired by various ''props'' about her house (e.g.her son's recently carved pumpkin lamps) and having been to the Magritte exhibition at Tate Liverpool, she had the idea to place me outside in the local environment and photograph me with a pumpkinhead of my own. The second idea was to incorporate my head into a still life which she would shoot in her house and indeed the temporary studio had already been set up.

So, first we toddled off to the local park but, whereas up until then, it had been a bright and sunny, it now started to pour with rain. However, it gave us time to chat a bit more and reflect on what we were going to do and where we were going to do it and, eventually, the showers stopped and we got started. Jill had brought the pumpkin with her and photographed  both me and it in such a way that it appeared that I had a pumpkin head both lit  and unlit. She showed me some of the shots on the back  of the camera and they looked really very interesting. After about an hour in the park, we returned to her house and the still life which took quite a while to set up. Often in these circumstances, the photographer apologises for the time it is taking but I don't mind at all; I find the whole process endlessly fascinating.  I think it is because I would love to be a photographer myself but I just do not have in me (that is, the technical knowledge, the patience, the desire to learn, the knack etc) and so it is great to see an expert do it all on my behalf without me having any responsibility for the execution of the photography. It is almost as if I am taking self portraits but using someone to do the camera work for me but not really because, in most cases, the original idea for the shoot has been conceived by the photographer, not me.

Anyway, back to Jill and the still life. I really enjoyed doing this partly because I had more to do than just stand or sit in front of the camera and also because I was intrigued by how it would all turn out. I filmed this shoot and I hope to add this to this posting at some stage.

I enjoyed meeting and working with Jill so much. She is a very sensitive person and very kind. That was apparent the moment I met for the first time when she collected me from Stockport station. Her face is clear and open and so it was easy to see. She is also an incredibly talented artist as was exemplified by the images she sent to me subsequently. I found it so difficult to choose between the two and kept changing my mind but, in the end, I settled for the pumpkin, although.......

Link to Website: www.jilljennings.com

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Friday, 14 October 2011

FOLLOW ME by Laura Pannack

FOLLOW ME by Laura Pannack

There is a quietness and simplicity about Laura's photographs which draws you in and then, pow! Each one rolls over you like the sun rising up in the early morning bringing much needed warmth with it and slowly your whole body is infused with a glow as all the aspects of the photograph unfold before you and your mind begins to question and possible answers throw themselves up for consideration, examination, elucidation. 

l liked all the images she sent to me after our shoot. l adored some and l chose this as my favourite. Those eyes that she asked me to direct at the lens seem initially to challenge but then there is the realisation that they are saying ''welcome to my misty, mysterious world - come in, the water's fine. Weird and strange, but fine.'' l seem crowned by a mystical ruff of space and time, of light and darkness. The water is indeed fine but how deep and what lies beneath? My illness is represented as a brilliant wash of texture and light but with hidden dangers made more easily dealt with due to the power of the mind behind those eyes to see light where there is darkness, answers where there are questions and beauty where there is ugliness. You, the viewer may well have been in that deep lagoon yourself before or you may not have been there and can only imagine what lies beneath the surface. Either way, you are prepared to trust the possessor of those eyes, those thoughts, those ideas, that knowledge, to lead you through the murkiness to find a piece of cool, clear water in which, at least for a few moments or at most, for a lifetime, you can join him whilst he flips and plunges, floats and ponders, dives and rises up towards the sun on his journey through uncharted waters of emotion, elation and discovery.

With grateful thanks to my great friend, Peter, for the use of the venue.

                                                                        Laura Pannack

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

HALF FOOL by Anthony Hatley

HALF FOOL by Anthony Hatley

I first met Anthony in 1979 when I was working as a solicitor in Haslemere and I acted for him on his purchase of his first property. I believe that he was working in IT then but now he is a successful professional photographer and, of course, I am no longer a solicitor. As Anthony said recently, who would have thought that, 32 years later, he would end up photographing me in Brighton? During that time, I continued to act for him and his charming wife Diane and also now and again we would bump into each other outside the office and so it was that, in 2011, we met at a retirement party for an old colleague of mine. We took the opportunity to chat briefly and catch up and it was agreed that we would get together for a shoot in the not too distant future.

A few months later, Anthony emailed me and eventually we arranged that he would come over to Brighton for a shoot on 28th September 2011.  Anthony arrived with flowers for Jane and so started a very enjoyable day firstly spent inside the house and then ending up on Brighton beach. Anthony had a very clear idea in his mind what shots he wanted but also he was not afraid to improvise  and, all the while, we chatted about this and chat. It was a very easygoing and thoroughly fulfilling shoot. It ended quite a few hours later when he bid me goodbye at our front door and gave me a big hug which was unexpected but was borne of a longstanding friendship the strength of which was cemented that bright September day.

Anthony subsequently sent me a shortlist of eleven images which I looked at very carefully and in the end, I plumped for this one. Not only is it a superb photograph, it has Jane 's fantastic painting ''Running on Empty'' in the background. That painting is part of her ''Station of the Skirt'' series in which Jane examined women's roles in society in general and her role in our family unit in particular. It took me a long time to understand the meaning of this painting hence the title I have given to this beautiful photograph taken by a great photographer.

A Postscript:
Some months after receiving this final image by email, I received a package in the post. lt was addressed to ''TJR Andrews'' which l thought was interesting because, nowadays, few people if any, write to me in that way i.e. using my full initials. l began to work out in my mind who it was from and although this sort of meant that l was on the right track, nothing prepared me for the surprise l had when l opened the parcel. lt literally took my breath away. l saw that it was a book and, by then, l had deduced that it was a gift. l pulled it out and read the words "Half Fool" as l looked at the fantastic photograph on front. Jane was sitting across the table from me and asked why l had said ''Blimey'' as l stood up and then immediately slumped back down in the chair opposite her. l said "It's a book....of photographs by Anthony Hatley... you know the former client of mine who photographed me here''. She replied "Oh you mean the guy who brought the lovely flowers?" But l did not answer as by now l was reading the dedication printed inside which ended with "I am proud to be photographer 161". l told Jane that she would have to read it as l would only cry. So l handed her the book after looking through it and she read it out loud and tears welled up and trickled down my cheeks. She then looked through the book herself. ''These are wonderful photographs, you know'' she said. l could hardly believe the kindness, the generosity of spirit and the humanity of the man who had sent this wonderful present. Wonderful - a well used word often thrown away in speech. The adjective of ''wonder'', which conjures up a picture of a child beholding something so full of beauty and light that all he can do is behold it with awe and with eyes and mouth open. Something magical. Spiritual and mysterious. Not just a book of beautiful photographs by a very talented photographer but much more than that. A simple act of pure kindness. From a man whom as he left me that day, hugged me with the same warmth that prompted him to send this gift, this ''early Christmas present'' as he put it.

At the end of the film of the musical, ''Camelot'', King Arthur despairs of his life thus far but is uplifted by coming across a young boy whom has stowed away to fight with Arthur in what is likely to be his last battle. The boy upholds the principles of the Round Table and so Arthur commands the boy not to fight but to return to England to preach the gospel of the Round Table lest it be forgot. l liken this to my life as a lawyer. Did l really make any difference to people's lives? Was it all worth it? Will anyone remember? Arthur is asked by King Pellinore who the boy was. Arthur replies triumphantly, "One of what we all are...less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea....but it seems that some of the drops do sparkle. Some do sparkle!"

Thank you Anthony for a wonderful day and a wonderful portrait.

Link to Website - http://www.anthonyhatley.co.uk/

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

ENERGY by Kim Fielding

ENERGY by Kim Fielding

Kim was introduced to me by Tiff Oben and he even agreed to put me up whilst I was in Cardiff for the shoots with Tiff and Kim himself and Ami Barnes. I had spent the day before shooting with Tiff at tactileBOSCH followed by a dinner party hosted by Kim at his flat and so, by the time I got to Kim's studio in his cellar the following morning, l was very relaxed and easy. By the way, I should just mention that tactileBOSCH is an amazing place. It is an alternate gallery space and was established by Kim and Simon Mitchell in 2000 since when it has been the venue for exhibitions and performances by many established international artists as well as emerging local artists.

Anyway, back to Kim and his cellar. I followed him (Kim) down the stairs and immediately l sensed that it had a great 'feel' to it.  Kim had wanted to photograph me using his flash gun but for some reason it wasn't working so we made do with a string of fairy lights and other things. We both agreed that I should be naked for the shoot and Kim started shooting immediately as I began to undress. At first, I perched on a shelf under the stairs which was like an eyrie. Then I stood holding the lights and a torch and then finally I stood on a mattress and swung this light in an arc. That was what did my back in. It was already a bit dodgy after jumping up and down on hard concrete the week before for a stop motion film but balancing on a sprung mattress got it going again. Apart from that, I loved experimenting with the lights and I could have stayed down there for ages but I had to go on to my next shoot. However, I have been invited back to Cardiff and it is likely that, when I return, I shall end up being involved with the same photographers again.

I waited for the photographs to arrive from Kim and soon enough a CD arrived in the post with the most amazing set of images on it. They were all awash with colour and movement and also beautiful little surprises like an eye appearing out of nowhere. They are presented with such elan and confidence that they become intoxicating and, strangely, they seem imbued with an almost erotic energy - strange because I didn't feel particularly erotic down there - in the cellar I mean.

I chose the above image as Kim's contribution to my project. It has everything - bizarre flashes and tones of colour, great movement and a contrasting stillness which all goes to make an incredibly vibrant and challenging image. But I want more and it seems as if Kim will kindly allow me to return to Cardiff for that. He is a wonderful photographer - he has such bravura and he never stops still - just the sort of guy you need to run an Arts Centre. And what is more, he is a thoroughly nice bloke. I am so, so lucky to meet people like Kim which, if I had still been a lawyer, I would never have done. All thanks to Parkinson's Disease - weird isn't it?

Link To Flickr Page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39043424@N04/4926241655/

Kim in his kitchen

Monday, 26 September 2011

KING GAMMELYN by Kirsty Mitchell

KING GAMMELYN by Kirsty Mitchell

How much do the stories read to you by your parents when you were young, affect your life and your ethos when you are older? I don't actually recall my mother reading to me although I remember that we owned Beatrix Potter books and my mother would often quote from Winnie the Pooh. The book I do remember reading at school was ''Wind in the Willows'' and immediately, I identified with Mole. I liked Ratty but I was never a rat, at least not then.

Why am I rattling on about this? Well, Kirsty Mitchell's amazing "Wonderland" project was influenced heavily by the stories that her late mother told her when she was little and when her mother died, not so long ago, Kirsty was inspired to create a land and characters based on those stories as a tribute to a mother she loved so much. Whilst in the middle of this huge undertaking, I happened to come across her work and was blown away by it. So much so, that in July 2010, I wrote to her asking if she would photograph me. She replied in a manic rush which became familiar to me over the next twelve months or so saying that she was ".. drowning, drowning, drowning in work at the moment..." (yes, three drownings)  but also that she was just about to launch her website and had been working relentlessly for the past six months building up to this and was now at her wit's end BUT she said that she was interested in my project and that she thought there was a very strong chance that we could do a one off special portrait in her Wonderland style but before that she genuinely needed a bit of a rest. Phew!

Of course, I was delighted and told her so. Well, she never did get a break but, when I wrote to her again about three months later to congratulate her on the latest Wonderland pictures, she said that the only way she could really fit me in to her schedule was to incude me in Wonderland and so become the only male participant. I replied, "YES, YES, YES, YESSSSS!!!!" (Yep, four YESes and four exclamation marks).

We continued to correspond in the same way (ie more manic emails from Kirsty and more exclamation marks from me) and she gradually unfolded her ideas about the fallen King I was to play, first of all in a swamp but then in a woodland setting. Finally, on 26th September, I arrived at her front door and entered what seemed to be a very calm and ordered hive of activity to meet Kirsty for the first time as well as her fiance, Matt, and her make up artist/partner, Elbie. She reminded me how the Wonderland series had all come about and, as we chatted, she showed me the incredible costume of the sad old King whom I was about to play. I was made up and then donned my costume and we drove off to the secret location in some woods near Leatherhead in Surrey. First of all, I was asked to clamber up a bank and sit on a chair suspended halfway up a bank and all the wiry entrails of the roots of the tree were knitted roughly into my hair and Kirsty took her photographs of which this is one.

Then came the fateful journey to another part of the woods. Stupidly, I offered to carry a box of stuff and hit the front of my right lower leg on a branch. I was wearing lilac tights but the bruise swelled up pretty quickly and soon I was in some pain. I was then asked to sit under a tree for the second, final pose and the race was on to finish the shoot before the sun went down. This combined with my rapidly swelling shin, began to induce a lot of tremor so Kirsty had to wait whilst I calmed down. She was incredibly patient but I wondered whether I had given her enough of what she wanted especially as, a few months later, she decided to shoot a younger male model as a younger version of the King. However, she has assured me subsequently that I was one of the most successful parts of her wondrous project. I was now officially part of Wonderland and had been photographed by Kirsty Mitchell, the wonderfully innovative creator of this world.

Kirsty is a ball of high octane energy fired on by an indefatigable drive and creativity handed down by her lovely mother who inspired her project and this new beginning in her life and who must be looking down on her equally lovely daughter with a knowing look and a great deal of pride.

And talking of pride - just look at the photograph! How would you feel?

WEBSITE: http://www.kirstymitchellphotography.com/



In August 2009, I was fortunate enough to appear on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of Anthony Gormley's ''One and Other'' project. Tiff also appeared on the plinth that summer a few weeks after me when she became the first female nude plinther. Her intention was to make the hour on the plinth an extension of her own artistic endeavours which explore gender, sexuality and subjectivity as unnatural constructions. She undertook a metamorphosis of gender from male to female using costume and masquerade. She stepped on the plinth dressed and made up as a man and then undressed and then donned a female wig and became a woman. It was a very brave performance at 4am with some rather rude hecklers below but she survived. I looked up her website and saw that she was a photographer and so immediately I contacted her asking if she would photograph me and she said yes!
READY by Tiff Oben
We emailed over a long period of time and she explained that she was heavily involved with a local Arts Centre in Cardiff called tactileBOSCH run by a guy called Kim Fielding. She was keen for me to speak to Kim about the possibility of him not only photographing me but also about possibly displaying photographs of my own project at the Arts Centre. Eventually, we set up a time for me to visit Wales for further discussions and some shoots with both Tiff and Kim as well as Ami Barnes whose work I saw showcased in the Profesional Photographer magazine. I travelled to Cardiff by train and Tiff met me at the station and we took another train to tactileBOSCH. Tiff had been involved in an installation project at the centre which was the joint creation of Tiff and long-time collaborative partner, Helene Roberts, whom together built the space where the shoot took place. Tiff and Helene and Kim Fielding curated other artists into it including highly respected Welsh artist, Shani Rhys James, and Ali Simpkins and Tom Belton and Dave Cushley. Part of the space was made to look like the entrance lobby of a seedy Victorian hotel and that was where we shot the pictures. Our initial idea was to shoot me dressed and undressed in the same poses.

It was a close run thing choosing between "Ready" and "Getting Ready" to represent Tiff in my project. In fact I chose "Ready" first but I have to say that, whenever I looked at "Getting Ready", I did feel that this was me, the seedy me, the extrovert and the taker of risks as opposed to the saintly me, the shy man who plays safe - I am both people. So, after further thought, I plumped for "Getting Ready"which is a brilliant photograph full of light and darkness, colour, sexuality, challenge and unashamed exposure. Tiff liked the simplicity of the double portrait in "Ready" but also liked the darkness of "Getting Ready" so she was happy with either choice. They are both wonderful images and I was very, very pleased that I had contacted Tiff. 


Link to website: www.tiffanyoben.co.uk