Monday, 4 March 2013

TCHAIKOVSKY'S FOURTH by Ann Christiansen

TCHAIKOVSKY'S FOURTH by Ann Christiansen

When I was younger, so much younger than today and living in our family home at West Wittering in Sussex, I used to muck about a lot. What does "mucking about" entail? Well, anything from making silly birthday cards for people using cartoon characters from Mad Magazine to recreating great Tottenham Hotspur moments in the back garden to asking friends questions and recording the answers on a tape recorder but then overlaying different questions so the person admitted sleeping with two thousand buffalo a night to making jokes to make my family laugh. This mucking about also included pretending to conduct Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, especially the end when the music goes bonkers - usually, I had an audience and it was often my darling twin sister, Sally who was subjected to this outrageous performance. The record was an old 78 out of a box set of my father's. He was a multi talented musician who played professionally for the BBC Dance Orchestra, Jack Payne, Jack Hylton and Jack Jackson. He could play any instrument and also created the arrangements for many orchestras and he had perfect pitch. He died of lung cancer when I was two years old and when the singer, Lisbeth Webb, called to see him in hospital, she was wearing earrings with little bells attached and, as she leaned over to kiss him, one of the bells tinkled and he said "E sharp!" None of his children really inherited his musical prowess although my youngest sister, Corinne, has a beautiful voice and Sally plays the Accordion and my brother also has a great voice and tinkles on the piano a bit. But I have no musical talent at all even though I love music of just about every kind. So, I guess that conducting Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony is the nearest I will ever come to being a musician. I should add that a number of my father's grandchildren have inherited a great deal of musical talent.

I met Ann at PhotoForum in February 2013 when I gave a talk about my project. She is a little bundle of excitement and smiles. I wrote to her afterwards on Twitter and we agreed to meet and discuss ideas. The idea that we plumped for was me conducting an orchestra both clothed and naked. We met at a studio in Manor House and found the Fourth Symphony on Spotify and just went for it. It was such fun -  we just, well, mucked about. And this is the wonderful result. I really love the eye staring up into the sky searching for those times gone by when my father conducted properly and when I conducted for Sally to make her laugh. Great times in a happy childhood. Great times in a happy adulthood. Just mucking about.

And, as for Ann, what a completely lovely, smiley person she is - full of energy and good thoughts and with an ability to capture an idea and wrap it up in a beautiful image such as this. At the end of the shoot, she gave me a big hug full of thanks and friendship and believe me, when you have received a hug from Ann, you know you've been hugged - Danish style.


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