Tuesday, 24 September 2013

AND FAR AWAY by Melissa Campbell

AND FAR AWAY by Melissa Campbell

Melissa was another Twitter contact. I looked up her work online and I was bowled over by it and so I had no hesitation in contacting her about working together. We met at my house and she was fascinated by the old family photograph album which my late mother had created some time ago. My father died in 1953, when I was two, but there are no photographs of me and him together. He was a professional musician and played just about every instrument although he was mainly known for his fiddle playing. He played in orchestras led by Jack Payne, Jack Jackson and Jack Hylton and worked with such musicians as Hutch and Stephan Grapelli. He was also a superb arranger and had perfect pitch. There was a lovely story told to me by the singer, Lizbeth Webb, before she died. When my father was seriously ill in hospital with lung cancer, she visited him and, on this particular occasion, she was wearing earrings which little bells attached. As she bent down to kiss him goodbye, they tinkled and he said very weakly, "E Flat!". 

Anyway, Melissa and I decided to play detective and see if any of the photographs had fingerprints on. Of course, we wouldn't be able to tell if they were my father's prints or not but if there a few prints, then they might be his! Melissa dusted some powder on some of the photographs but we found nothing conclusive. She asked if she could take the album away and carry on the process. Normally, I would have refused such a request given the great value and importance of the album to my family but I knew from the short time we had spent together, that I could rely on her totally to take the greatest care of it. And so she did. She returned another day with the album but unfortunately there were hardly any prints to be found at all. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting exercise.

Also, Melissa took some shots of me talking and looking through the album and this was one of them. She gave it the title of "And Far Away" which reminded me of the James Taylor song "Long Ago and Far Away". It is a lovely photograph because some of the pictures I am looking at were taken by my father and so, in some ways, we are being photographed together at last.

I used to think that I hadn't really been affected by not having a father. I mean, if you've no memory of him then you don't feel you lack anything. However, I went on a sort of self-awareness course in 2002 and beforehand, I completed a long and detailed questionnaire and many of the questions were about my parents and, in the case of those mentioning my father, my replies were rather flippant because for me he had never really existed. On the first day, the teacher assigned to me called me into a room for an initial chat. I had never done anything like this before so I went in very much looking forward to the session. After a few minutes, the teacher put up her hand and said "This  is your father - what would you like to say to him?" and I collapsed in tears. Of course I missed him. It was an incredible realisation. 

I used to be very nostalgic but not anywhere near so much now but I am not afraid of the past either. I loved being involved in the project with Melissa and I am hoping we will do more together including some filming. She is a lovely person with a great interest in social and family history and is very easy to work with. She also is a fan of the Beatles - what's not to like?? 

"Long ago a young man sits and plays his waiting game..."

Sunday, 22 September 2013

SMILE by Vici Watkins

SMILE by Vici Watkins
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky
you'll get by.
If you smile through your pain and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
For you.

I have to say that I rarely smile when a camera is shoved in my face. In fact, this great photograph by Vici Watkins is pretty much the nearest you get to a smile on most of my shoots. It is not that I don't like smiling but the photographer usually prefers a blank expression and then, if the shoot develops in a certain way, I might be asked to smile or merely suggest one.

Vici approached me at a Mini Click event in Brighton and we talked of the likelihood of her photographing me and we agreed to have a discussion by email and to arrange a date for a shoot. In the meantime, I looked at her website and saw the most beautiful still lives - she admitted that she hadn't done any figurative work for a while. She said that she preferred to shoot me in Brighton as the light was better there. And so it was that she came to our house on 22nd September 2013 and we had an extremely pleasant time together. She went all around the house looking for suitable locations and we ended up in the study and a bedroom as she was looking for a bare wall as a backdrop. I love the more dramatic and theatrical shoots I do but I also love these quiet portraits especially when, as in Vici's case, she has given so much thought to the shoot so that when it does take place, the images really capture the essence of me. I found Vici a very companionable person and we relaxed with each other almost immediately and that comes across in this photograph. It seems to me that it is the sign of a very good photographer if such a situation is achieved so quickly and, seemingly, so easily.

Yes, a very satisfying shoot and a marvellous photograph to boot. That rhymes doesn't it?

You'll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.

.....and she brought a delicious carrot cake with her!

WEBSITE: http://www.viciwatkins.co.uk/

Friday, 6 September 2013

OVER THE HILL at Haslemere Museum

The Opening of the Private View

On 1st October 1977, I qualified as a solicitor, having undertaken my Articles of Clerkship (now known as a Training Contract) at the firm of Raper & Co in Chichester, West Sussex. I applied to several firms for a job as an assistant solicitor including Burley & Geach who made me an offer which I did not refuse but they also told me that there were no prospects of Partnership. Four years later, I became a partner of the firm. I continued to work at the Haslemere office until 1985 when I moved to our new office in the nearby village of Grayshott where I remained until 2006 when I was forced to retire due to having Parkinson's Disease. On 6th September 2013, thirty six years after I had qualified, I returned to open a show at the Haslemere Educational Museum. The Private View was attended by many people I have known for some years including several former clients and my former senior partner as well as a number of other acquaintances from my days as a lawyer. It was very interesting, not only to return to my old stamping ground, but also to speculate who might come along. I was very touched that those who did attend spoke so movingly about the project and me and my health problems particularly Alan Perry whom I have known for over 35 years and who said some very kind things in his address. I really felt glad to come back and to mix together the two worlds I have inhabited i.e. the legal world and the post diagnosis world of modelling, filmmaking and writing.  

The photographs on display show a brilliant cross-section of the marvellous array of the challenging and inventive work in the project. Some of the photographs have been exhibited before but a large proportion have not and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Haslemere not only to see my show but also the other wonderful exhibits on show elsewhere in this great little museum, the reputation of which has increased hugely over recent years. This has been due mainly to the hard work and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers as well as to the wise decision making by the trustees led by the ubiquitous Alan Perry who brought an energy and an intelligence to his dynamic chairmanship in recent times, and which has been continued by the present incumbent, Melanie O'Dell.

Some years ago, a short time after my diagnosis, I went to see a speech therapist as my speech was beginning to become slurred. One day, she asked me how I had been and I explained that recently I had joined a local film society but when I attended the first film in the programme a few nights before, I had bought a plastic glass of wine and, as I walked to my seat, I felt very conscious of friends watching me do so and possibly thinking ''there's poor Tim, shaking''. The therapist said to me that I had to get used to the fact that I wasn't the Tim I was before, I was Tim with Parkinson's. That helped me a lot. I am Tim with Parkinson's but, at the Private View, the old Tim was still there.... deep inside and it was he who introduced the new Tim to some old and valued friends.

A film I have made about the exhibition can be seen here. A longer version with me talking about each of the photographs on display can be seen HERE.

MUSEUM WEBSITE: http://www.haslemeremuseum.co.uk/