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......

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