Thursday, 4 June 2015

DISTANT by Nigel Maudsley

DISTANT  by Nigel Maudsley
I met Nigel on 19th August 2014 in a pub on the London Road in Brighton at a meeting convened by Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF), the name of which pub I cannot remember. But I do remember how Nigel struck me that day - he is a very sensitive man, quiet and still but with something burning deep inside him. As I was to discover on this shoot, that something was a passionate desire to express himself artistically. During that meeting in the pub, we talked about what we were both doing for the BPF and afterwards, I looked up his work on his website and it was wonderful and so I wrote to him asking if he would like to be a part of my project. After emails to and fro, we met again in Hove in November but sadly, in the intervening period, Nigel's father had died and he had become involved in dealing with his mother's need for more care. Nevertheless, he had very kindly continued to give some thought to photographing me and eventually, we were able to arrange a definite date of 4th June. The weather was perfect, warm and humid, and the sky almost completely clear. The basic idea was to photograph me as the sun was going down.


I collected Nigel from his house in Kemptown and we drove to the Marina and then had fairly long walk to the cockleshell beach where Nigel wanted to take several photographs of me both clothed and naked. There weren't that many people about and those who were there were some distance away. It wasn't easy to negotiate the slippery rocks which trailed into the sea and I thought how impossible a shoot like this would have been if I had not had my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery last year. We spent more time here than we had anticipated but that was because it was all going so well. But the greatest pleasure was getting to know Nigel better. We talked a lot about Family and Life and Death and Nigel's move to Brighton which had proved to be so successful and fulfilling. 


Then we moved on and drove back into Brighton to the Nudist Beach. Unfortunately , we had missed the sunset but I think we both knew that we had got some very good shots already. By the time I dropped Nigel off at his house into the welcoming paws of his dog, we were both pretty tired. But Nigel was too excited to see what he had got and started work on the photographs straightaway and I received an initial set of images the next day. They were fabulous. I had a bit of weird Maths teacher at my primary school called Mr Haddon in the early sixties. He was a Baptist preacher in his spare time and he used to talk about the word fabulous and work himself into a real evangelistic frenzy as he gave a sermon to this class of innocent 12 year old boys about how bad the word was because it meant "out of this world" and he wrapped his Yorkshire tongue around "world" as his eyes almost popped out of his head. Sorry, back to Nigel's pictures -  well, they were fabulous. This one in particular caught my eye. It felt very poignant given our talks about my illness and Nigel's deep, deep love for his father and mother. When I talked to him about how I cried on the day my mother died, he was one of the few people to understand the guttural, wrenching cry that came from deep inside me as if her presence in me was being dragged out and thrown into the air.

It is Nigel's love of life and his deep sensitivity which invest his photographs with so much emotion. But apart from this, look at the colours and contrasts which give the picture a richness which also tells of the treasure one can find in this life - all we have to do is open our eyes and see.

Our eyes help us to see, know and understand the world around us. They give us insights to the changes as we travel through our lives..... When my father died, the grief overwhelmed me. Visits to my family home, following the loss of my father, saw its reconfiguration for a new journey. I found myself in flux, a man in a child's dimensions......... Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), postcolonial theorist stated: ‘individuals without an anchor, without horizon, are colourless, stateless, rootless’.
- Nigel Maudsley January 11, 2015

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