Tuesday, 25 August 2015

ELOQUENCE by Tess Hurrell

ELOQUENCE by Tess Hurrell

I was standing around at Fabrica Gallery in Brighton during the Private View of a show by Joan Alexander and a person with a familiar face approached me and said, gently, "Hi Tim, it's Tess". Immediately, I made the connection with the rather demure woman who had photographed me in her studio in Tottenham, North London a few years ago. I was very pleased to see her again and we slipped into an easy conversation in which she told me that she was now based in Brighton. I had asked her soon after that first shoot if she might be interested in a second and she had said that she would but time had passed and I had not raised it with her again but I remembered that it was an outstanding issue and was pleased that she reacted positively when I wrote to her subsequently and repeated the request.

She asked me to wear normal clothes when I came to her studio and it was there when she explained that she wanted to photograph my hands. She intended to use a film camera and and to double expose the shots. She directed me quite specifically but I was also keen to infuse some emotion into the shapes she requested I adopt. I feel that she captured this emotion beautifully and she liked particularly the tension between the two hands. Added to all this was the fact that my right hand is slightly misshapen due to the contraction of Polio in 1958 which, luckily, only affected a muscle in my right thumb which weakened it and stunted its growth as a consequence of which my hands are totally different shapes and sizes making an interesting contrast in the photographs.

I was fascinated by what Tess had captured in a short period of time and thought long and hard about which image to include as her second in my project. I decided on this image because it had the emotion, the tension and the shapes all of which combined to create a fascinating picture which says a lot about me and also about Tess. The image represents the care with which she approaches her work, and the intelligent thought which she brings to it as well as the gentleness of her demeanour which the tone of the photograph reveals. It is an image borne of grace and dedication, an understanding of her subject and the skill of an experienced practitioner of photographic art.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

AT THE DOUBLE with Suzanne Plunkett

Suzanne's photo of me and "my" photographers at The Lightbox Gallery Woking 2nd February 2015
Suzanne works as a photographer for Reuters and I met her through Joanna Burejza. Suzanne photographed me for my project in Kensington Gardens in 2011 and afterwards she approached me with the idea of her photographing me being photographed by other photographers. She had spoken to Reuters and they seemed quite interested in doing a feature about it online.

The first shoot she covered was the second shoot I had with Joanna in London which took place in a machine room at the back of a cafe where Joanna worked. I was a little nervous being photographed by two people at the same time but because she knew Joanna from old and also because she is such a pleasant person anyway, I soon relaxed as Suzanne clicked away in a very professional and discreet manner. As I have said so many times before, I love the shoots most of all and to see these photographs by Suzanne was very exciting for me. For example, to see Joanna crouching down intently to photograph me as in the picture above is strangely moving.

Joanna and me

Me and Joanna

The next shoot which Suzanne covered was with Milly at her home studio in London. Milly is very much concerned with women's issues and indeed when she heard that, in the past, I had wanted to be a woman but remain heterosexual and  that therefore I was in fact a lesbian, she was delighted. You will see that this is reflected in the shots below. Again, Suzanne was very discreet and, in fact, had to leave before the end of the shoot which enabled Milly and I to have some time working only with each other.

 Mannequin, me and Milly
Milly applying make up for the Femina photo

The next photographer who was covered was Liz Orton who not only produced the fantastic Box photograph but also made the contact between me and Sarfraz Manzoor which led to the feature by him in The Guardian and also on the The Culture Show. She continued to photograph me after our first shoot together in 2010 in Milford, where we used to live. I think it was the third shoot this time at a studio in North London where Suzanne was present to take the brilliant photograph shown below.
Liz and me

Me and Liz's light meter

Coincidentally, I was photographed by the charming Tess Hurrell quite near the studio where Liz Orton had photographed me. Unfortunately, I had not met Tess previously and this was the only shoot where perhaps it might have been better if Suzanne had not been there because, no matter how discreet she was again (and she was), Tess and I were not able to enjoy that special intimacy that exists between Photographer and subject. But then again, I would not have these great photographs from the shoot. As it happens, Tess has now moved to Brighton and we have arranged a second shoot together so all's well that ends well.

Tess and me

Tess and me

Paul is a very successful photographer in London whose work is featured regularly in many National newspapers and their supplements and I am not surprised because he is not only extremely talented but very engaging as well. Paul was working on a commercial shoot at a very nice studio in London and fitted me in which was very generous of him and he was equally gracious in agreeing to Suzanne taking photographs on the same day. What strikes me from a lot of these pictures is that there are a lot of smiles both by me and the photographer and that shows not only what fun we have but also how nice members of the photographic race are. 

Paul photographing my awful feet 

Paul giving direction

I thought it was the right time to revisit the earlier years of my project and in particular to publicise Suzanne's great idea and her work in the process

Thank you, Suzanne.

Monday, 10 August 2015



Early one morning in August, I was running down to the beach from my house to meet Max Langran for the first time. I was running because I was late. We had agreed to meet at the Bandstand on Brighton sea front at 4am but although I had set my alarm, it didn't go off and, at about 4.05am, I was woken by the buzzing of my mobile phone - it was Max texting to say that he was waiting at the Bandstand. You know that lovely feeling of freshness  you experience when you are up before everyone else in the whole world mixed with rushing around still slightly half asleep? No? Oh well, never mind. I was late and dashed to the loo, to the shower and then to the front door, grabbing and swallowing my first dose of pills on the way. I arrived at about 4.15am and met Max, a very personable young man and, immediately, we fell into step together as we walked westwards along the front to find the groyne that Max had in mind for the shoot. It was quite cloudy and not yet light and so this was perfect for him. 

Max had posted an amazing photograph of an electric storm on Twitter and I had then looked up his work on his website where there was more of the same and wrote asking if he might consider photographing me. He responded quite quickly saying that he would. This was in 2014 but then other things intervened including, in particular, my son's two disastrous back operations or rather, one disastrous operation followed by an infection which could only be cured by a second operation followed by an equally catastrophic prescription of a pain killing drug that he had to be weaned off over a period of months. Anyway, all this meant a lot of cancelling and rescheduling of shoots including this one. Max waited very patiently and finally we agreed on a date.

On the morning in question, we eventually found a groyne that was suitable and as the light came up behind a thick wodge of cloud, Max began shooting. His idea, or at least one of his ideas was to create an image comprised of a number of composite photographs. The black and white picture below is made up of about 50 separate shots. He sent me that one and the colour photograph above initially but explained that he was still working on the edits. Finally, he sent me the final versions of these two plus a third which he also thought had worked. I had had to stand quite still because in that light, there had to be a long exposure. Max commented afterwards that there was a certain irony in this bearing in mind my Parkinson's. He felt that each of the shots worked and that I worked as part of what usually would have been a landscape image for him.

It was difficult to choose one as I liked them all but in the end, I stayed with my original choice. I felt that this represented most accurately my feel of the morning. The low light, the relatively calm sea with just one wave or two and the feeling of being alone in that place (apart from this guy with a camera who kept on photographing me). After the shoot, we strolled back together and then said goodbye. We had got on very well and chatted very easily. 

Max is a very nice man and a very, very good photographer and I like this photograph very, very, very much. What good fortune has come my way when I can walk (or run) down to the beach at dawn and spend a happy hour in the company of such a person?

Saturday, 8 August 2015

GOD ONLY KNOWS by Tee Chandler

GOD ONLY KNOWS by Tee Chandler

Around the dark red velvet curtains, a border of light is just about visible. I guess the time is - um, about 5.30am. I stretch out my hand and pick up my phone. The room is bathed in a fresh white light as it bursts into life. I focus on the screen - it is 5.19am. I think, yep, let's get up or maybe read a while or lie in bed and listen to some music. I decide to get up because I want to have a swim as the sun rises but also I have remembered that I had received some photographs I want to write about - these photographs. This is what this project has given me - not only a reason to get up in the morning but an excitement, an anticipation, an involvement in the lives of others. I dress quickly and creep downstairs and pick up my towel and place this in my bag with my swim shoes. They have large holes in each toe but they will last out the summer. As the front door clicks shut, I feel the chill of the morning breeze around my bare legs. I press play on my ipod shuffle. Noel Gallagher's gorgeous, driving guitar sets the beat for my walk down to the sea which looks flat from a distance. A few early commuters are hurrying along the pavements. No good mornings - we are all in our separate little worlds. As I come closer to the beach I think back to my swim yesterday with my friend Joan and hope the water is as calm and clear. It is. I slide down the pebbles and return the wave of a fisherman who I chatted briefly to a few weeks ago and who is standing on the other side of the apron in front of the brick pier where I swim. I undress but, in deference to my companion, I keep my pants on and wade in. It is cold, clear and wonderful. I push out with my pathetic breast stroke but it is my breast stroke. I twist, I turn, I float on my back and look up at the pale outline of the fading crescent moon. I take a breath and push forward with my head under the surface and I see white bubbles stream against the green of the water. Enough. I turn towards the shore and, as I leave the growing swell, I look up to see the fisherman wave goodbye. I dry my tingling body with my towel and take off my wet pants and stand there naked for a few seconds and face the sea. I think I am in love with it. I dress and trudge up to the road which takes me straight home. I grab a bowl of cereal and I sit down at the computer with Paul McCartney thumping his bass guitar in my ears. A flawed genius. We are all flawed but there are not many geniuses. 

I stare at the screen and I think "Tee". I look at the photographs she had sent a few days ago. The photographs that had hit me for six. When I was swimming in that pool and she was photographing me, I had no idea that the resultant images would be like this. A magnificent swirl of grey smudges of light and liquid, of dark lines of eyebrow and thinning whisps of hair, of distorted bubbled boldness. Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" is on now, his urgent insistent voice moves my fingers across the keyboard as I look again at these crazy pictures and think how much they speak of the criss cross quiz of life. The calm, the passion, the buzziness, the somnolence, the glow and the flash of light. Fast. Slow. Mad. Sane.

Which one will I choose? I look at my arms outstretched as I glide forwards. Then I turn to me playing dead with my hands clinging on to - nothing. Then this mugshot. I put this up as I write these words and a new song rings in my ears. I may not always love you but as long as there are stars above you. You don't need to doubt it. I'll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I'd be without you. Ooooh. Brian Wilson. Certainly a genius. His melodies and arrangements are like this photograph. A mass of contrasting shapes and sounds woven together to produce something life affirming which moves me to write words which do not go anywhere near to explaining what this means to me. God only knows. 

WEBSITE: http://www.teechandler.com/