|MR MERRYWEATHER Q.C. by Justyna Neryng|
I wanted to be an actor from a young age but, when I was about 18, Mrs Anderson, my English teacher and the wife of the headmaster at my secondary school, asked me what career I wanted to follow. I had just recently finished reading "We, the Accused" by Ernest Raymond which was a story about a man who kills his wife and is tried for her murder. There is a long sequence in the book covering the trial and I marvelled at the description of one of the barristers; he was handsome, quick witted, articulate and eloquent. I told Mrs Anderson that I wanted to be a barrister. "That won't do" she said and when I asked why, she said that all barristers were actors and she had seen no evidence that I could act. Admittedly, I had not really done any acting apart from a memorable playing of Buttercup in HMS Pinafore when I was 12 - memorable for the flatness of my voice - but I knew that I could act and set about proving it by performing in three plays one after the other at school and then ended up as a solicitor. Eventually, I did some acting and even acquired an agent at one point but I couldn't afford to give up my day job and so I had to squeeze it into my spare time. However, playing Mr Merryweather in my films means that my wish has been granted in some small way and, when Justyna and I got together to discuss our next collaboration, Mr Merryweather seemed the perfect choice especially given her execution of the beautiful Childhood Lost series.
Whenever I visit Justyna in her flat in Hove, it reminds me of our very first shoot in 2010, a year before we moved to Brighton. We clicked then and we click now. As usual, Toby Slater-Hunt assisted her and we shot a number of photographs in different poses but, when some weeks later, we went through them on her laptop together, this one leaped off the screen. It seemed to capture the character of Mr Merryweather in so many ways. His seriousness, his flamboyance and his romanticism. The picture itself has so much to commend it - the light which brushes the right side of his coat, the way in which Justyna has highlighted the richness of the colour of the coat and the contrast with the dazzling white of the wig and ruff as well as the blood red of the ribbon around the roll of papers containing his brief. The landscape format of the photograph places him on a stage rather than squeezed into a portrait.
As usual, Justyna has created a wonderful image capturing all the facets of Mr. Merryweather's character to bring him to life and I am proud to say that this is the third photograph of hers to be included in the project.
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