Sunday, 16 February 2014



It was 5am on 16th February 2014 and, as arranged, Alex drew up outside the house to collect me for our moonlight photograph. There is something wonderfully magical about being up and about at that time of the morning although this was tinged with a certain amount of anxiety on my part because I suffer from Vertigo - not only do I feel dizzy looking down from a great height but also I feel the same standing on the ground looking up at a high building or, as in this case, high cliffs. But the excitement of the shoot enabled me to overcome my fear. I had seen Alex's incredible images and I was very much looking forward to being in one myself. It is a great honour to be invited to sit before someone's camera and step into the world you have seen created before the photographer has given any thought to working with you so, yes, I felt honoured to be in Alex's company that morning. We parked in the road in Peacehaven and walked towards the winding road that led through a gap in the cliffs onto the shore. The violent storms of the previous few days had rearranged the pebbles somewhat and so, partly due to that and to my infirmity, Alex couldn't quite create the image he had in mind originally. 

I stripped off and yes, it was a bit chilly but I adopted a few poses including this one looking out to sea. I am afraid that my knowledge of photography and cameras is such that I cannot recall what camera Alex was using and how long the exposure was and so I shall have to leave that to him to explain or you to determine from the image itself. But I love the whole procedure involved in taking a shot like this. I love seeing the photographer thinking hard about the light and depth of field etc and then 'click' the shutter is pressed and the image has been captured. The Decisive Moment.

Alex then produced what looked like a light sabre from Star Wars (I have never watched any of the Star Wars films by the way) and played with that on a long exposure too. In between all this Alex very kindly wrapped me up in a warm dressing gown and provided slippers as well. Eventually, it was over and we slowly made our way back to the car and I felt a real sense of achievement. It was a thoroughly satisfying experience - Alex is the friendliest of people and has a lovely smile that puts you at your ease straightaway so no problems on the communication front. He is also a very talented photographic artist. I love this picture. There I am sitting below these majestic cliffs which only days before had been pounded by the elements and not only that but I could have been sitting on a piece of chalk that had been carved off the cliffs a few days ago and had crashed onto the shore just where we were working - gulp! And the beauty and grandeur of the cliff face is highlighted by the silver glow of the moon which contrasts beautifully with the deep blue sky dotted with stars. Brilliant.

Who would have thought eight years ago as I sat in my office working as a solicitor that one day I would be photographed naked at 5am on a February morning on the sea shore below the Peacehaven cliffs? Not me! But I have and it is amazing. Thank you all you photographers out there who have given me such joy and pleasure at a time when I could have been floundering about wondering what to do with myself and, in particular, thank you Alex Bamford for this; the shoot, your friendship and this marvellous image.

Looks like a little brother to the sun
Or mother to the stars at night
And here it is and here it comes
Here comes the moon, the moon, the moon, the moon.
                                                                                                        - George Harrison

Thursday, 13 February 2014

THIS CHARMING MAN by Jim Stephenson

THIS CHARMING MAN by Jim Stephenson

The title to this photograph is taken from the song of the same name by The Smiths the words of which Jim asked me to quote for a short film he made after the shoot. It is very appropriate because one could not wish to meet a more charming man than Jim. When I say to people "Do you know Jim Stephenson?" they invariably they say that they do and always say "isn't he a nice guy?" and it's true - he is. He also happens to be an excellent photographer. I first met Jim when I went to a Mini Click talk in Brighton and I was so impressed by his easy manner in front of the baying mob of photographers who attended the talk. Later, he invited me to conduct a talk and, in the interval, I started chatting about architectural photography which is his speciality and saying how I was generally unmoved by this particular genre but he spoke so lucidly and enthusiastically about it that he changed my attitude on the spot and I asked him if he would be prepared to involve himself in my project and take my photograph. He said yes straightaway. 

Jim originally trained as an architectural technologist and following his graduation, he worked in the industry for almost ten years during which time he began to take photographs for architectural practices and eventually began to photograph buildings full time. His keen interest in architecture shines through all his work but this fascination with the built environment does not in any way restrict his wider artistic leanings as is clearly exemplified by this image.  

He suggested that we shoot in the old Fruit and Veg market in Circus Street in Brighton and explained that he wanted to set up a backdrop but in such a way that it formed part of the architecture of the interior of the building - a set within a set as it were. First of all he asked me to sit on a chair in front of the white screen. Then he told me that he had always had a keen interest in Egyptian history and he loved the story of Cleopatra being presented to Julius Caesar and arriving in a rug which was then unrolled to reveal her lying at his feet. He asked me to lie down and wrapped the white sheet around me with my legs sticking out, ready to be revealed to the viewer.

What a great shot it is  - it achieved what we were both after ie the set within a set but it has a wonderfully quirky humour which reflects both his and mine. I love it. And not only that, I love it more each time I look at it. And I love Jim. Everybody does. 

After we finished with the stills, he shot the short film and, inspired by the the words "he hasn't got a stitch to wear", we agreed that I should undress and reveal my nakedness in the final frames. As is always the case when one spends time with Jim, very interesting and great fun.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

WAVES OF JOY by Genevieve Stevenson

WAVES OF JOY by Genevieve Stevenson

The sun was hot and it was a relief to be inside on the day of the Private View of "Over the Hill and Don't Look Back", the exhibition at Farley Farm Gallery which featured some of the photographs from my project and Jane's recent paintings. Most of the guests had left by the time Clare Park arrived with her vivacious friend, Genevieve followed shortly afterwards by my brother and my sister-in-law who had encountered traffic problems on the way. As with all of Clare's friends whom I meet, I got on with Genevieve straightaway. She is full of life, bubbly I think is the word with a mass of curly hair to match. I was told that she was a photographer and indeed she took some lovely photographs that day, photographs that I shall always treasure. After she and the others had looked round the show, we decided to go to the pub in Muddles Green where we had something to eat and drink. Genevieve and I sat next to each other and soon we were swapping favourite comedies - anyone who likes Woody Allen's "Sleeper" is ok by me. 

"When I asked my mother where babies come from, she thought I said "rabies". She said you get them from being bitten by a dog. The next week, a woman on my block gave birth to triplets... I thought she'd been bitten by a great dane"

I think we also talked about her photographing me - at least the seed was sown and in subsequent email correspondence, I raised the possibility and she readily agreed. 

Her initial idea was to photograph me in our bath at home with me lying in coloured water - I warned her that, if we did this, we would have to be certain that it would not stain the bath otherwise Jane, who loves me, would kill me. Whether it was that prospect or an accident which resulted in an intense colour emergency when some tea fell out of a cupboard at her flat causing two bottles of natural food dye to be spilled, that persuaded her to abandon the idea, I don't know. However, Plan B was a shoot at her flat in Wimbledon. Wimbledon - where I had slept out on the pavement from 1968 to 2012 in order to queue up for tickets for the tennis; where I had seen the great Lew Hoad play the first time I went on the Centre Court; where I saw Rod Laver win two years running; where I saw Manuel Santana as a veteran hit "that shot"on Court 5; where I stood with Jane and my friend Richard and watched the first Borg v McEnroe final. Anyway, I digress.

Eventually, I arrived at Wimbledon Station and Genevieve collected me outside in her trendy little car. She is also a painter and she had painted a large canvas various shades of green and yellow and black (I'm sure there were other colours in there but they were the obvious ones) and asked me to sit and then sprawl naked on it. We had a cup of tea and a snack after which I disrobed and laid on the canvas whilst she snapped away (with the camera). At one point, she asked me to close my eyes and she draped a painted piece of material across my shoulder and spent a long time sailing around me taking different shots. I felt so peaceful and I sunk back into the waves of canvas under my body and allowed Genevieve to slowly and gently invade my consciousness. When I opened my eyes, it felt like my brain had been massaged by a supernatural being without being touched. It felt like I was in space for a few minutes.

Then shortly afterwards, I received this photograph. 

I am not going to say anything about it. 

It speaks for itself.

Monday, 10 February 2014

MAKING PLANS by Tom Petkus

MAKING PLANS by Tom Petkus

"I want you to be sad and miserable" said Tom as I met him, for the first time, at the Small Batch coffee shop in Hove. He had asked me to come along dressed in a suit and I decided to wear a black tie. It had been raining hard that morning and Tom wiped the seat of my chair dry and then asked me to stare into my empty coffee cup. I have to say that, although my condition is getting worse, it is very rare for me to be sad and miserable and I am very lucky in that respect.

I had made contact with Tom after finding his work on Flickr in April 2012 and sent him my usual email. He responded by asking me for a link to the photographs in my project which I sent to him by return. He replied saying that he would like to photograph me but I did not get back to him until almost a year later and, even then, I was slow to react to his emails and so it was not until January 2014 that we met at Small Batch. Tom has a deep Lithuanian accent (he is from Lithuania) and is about nine feet tall. He is serious about his work and about life but he has an infectious enthusiasm for Photography and underneath the rather austere exterior, he is a very warm human being. He surprised me because I couldn't  really make out what he was like from his emails and, even when I met him, it took me a while to figure him out. I found him to be person full of emotion and love; a tall strong man with principles, but with a softness inside. An observer of humanity who does not always like what he sees but nevertheless understands it. 

We shot quite a few images at the coffee shop and, whilst we were there, Tom's friend Agnes arrived to help out and what a very pleasant helper outer she was. We moved down into Palmeira Square and he took some photographs outside a mansion building and, at this point, Agnes posed with me or at least her arms did.

After a couple of hours, we slowly made our way to my house and I showed them around and also we had a look at some of my films after which they left. I sat and thought about the shoot and how deeply satisfying it was. Tom's love of photography was clear and both he and Agnes were very good companions for the day. 

Soon I began to receive some pictures from Tom and I was very impressed. I knew they were exactly what he wanted. This was my favourite but the ones featuring Agnes were also excellent and I was tempted to choose one of those but I kept coming back to my original choice. It leaves the viewer to work out what is going on but there are intriguing clues - the bent head, the slightly detached gaze into a cup with the rings of dried coffee inside the rim and the great dollops of rain like tears are still visible on the table. They tell a story but Tom credits the viewer with enough intelligence to work it all out. A fine photograph.

"Before you cross the street 
Take my hand 
Life is what happens to you 
While you're busy making other plans" 
                                    - John Lennon


Thursday, 6 February 2014

BRAIN IMPERIAL by Henrietta Bowden-Jones

BRAIN IMPERIAL by Henrietta Bowden-Jones

In January 2014, I was sent a preview of a Private View of an exhibition at Candid Arts in Islington, London and I was interested because some of the photographs from my project had been exhibited there as part of the Impact Art Fair. Incidentally, a German guy, Ule Maegdefrauwho also exhibited there expressed a great interest in the photographs so much so that he asked if he could take them back to Berlin for an exhibition there. We never saw him or the photographs again...........another story, another blogpost. Anyway, back to Henrietta  - one thing which in particular intrigued me was that, apart from being a photographer, she was also a medical doctor and a neuroscience researcher working as a Consultant Psychiatrist in addictions. One of the side effects of the drug, Mirapexin, which I was taking is a propensity to gamble and Henrietta is the founder and director of The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London.

So, I wrote to Henrietta asking if she would photograph me and she readily agreed and less than a month later, we met in a cafe in South Kensington to chat and then go on to Imperial College where she wanted to take the photograph. We got on very well and then we sloped off to the reception hall of Imperial College, where she took this photograph on her iPhone because, unfortunately, her normal camera had developed a problem with the lens. Nevertheless, it really works well and I love the splash of colour within the image of the brain behind me. 

Henrietta is one of the nicest people - a very busy person with an enquiring mind and with so many interests that every conversation, every email, every communication is choc full of interesting snippets and ideas. So thank you Doctor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, MRC Psych, BA (Hons), DOcc Med, MD (Imperial). Director and Lead Clinician, National Problem Gambling Clinic, London, Addictions Directorate, Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Royal College of Psychiatrists Spokesperson on Behavioural Addictions, Honorary Senior Lecturer, Division of Brain Science, Imperial College and Member of the UK Government's Responsible Gambling Strategy Board or Etta as I now call her.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


I heard this morning from Tiff Oben that Kim Fielding had died yesterday. I was so sad to hear this news. Kim was an amazing person - very irritating but easygoing, egotistical in the nicest way but very humble, inquisitive, interested, interesting, great fun, warm, human, flamboyant, loving, imaginative, brave, larger than life and unique.

I was on the Fourth Plinth in 2009 and through that, I made contact with Tiff Oben who put me in touch with Kim. Kim didn't know me from Adam but invited me to stay with him in Cardiff when I went there in 2011 to be photographed by Tiff. He photographed me too in his basement and was willing to try out all sorts of poses and ideas. I returned to Cardiff in 2013 and arranged to meet Kim in the Museum - he was almost an hour late and I couldn't get hold of him on his mobile. I was getting more and more pissed off but then he arrived with that silly, warm smile of his and suddenly everything was alright. We met the following evening for another shoot and again he was up for experimenting. 

I shall leave others to talk of his running of the Tactile Bosch Arts Centre in Cardiff with its leaking roof because I didn't have much to do with that but, by all accounts, he was an innovative and inclusive curator.

All I shall say is that the artistic community of Cardiff has lost someone very special and I have lost a lovely, silly, talented friend. Goodbye Kim.