|SLEEP, GENTLE SLEEP by Yasmina Podgorski|
My mother used to say that, when I was small, I would often go to bed before I was told to because I knew that I was too tired to stay up. But then I would ''wake up with the birds''. I love remembering things that my mother used to say. In more recent times before she died (in 2001), her memory wasn't so good and so the stories she had trotted out in the past and which were so familiar to us gradually faded from her mind. I go to bed early now too and I often wake at about six o'clock in the morning or even earlier in the summer. Shortly after my mother died when we were on holiday in Formentera, I had a dream about her. She was young again, about forty, and she had bright red lipstick and she was laughing and the wind was blowing her dark brown hair, no longer flecked with grey as it was when she died. I rarely remember my dreams but that one was so vivid that it has stayed with me ever since.
I don't know what she would have made of my photographic project. She worked as a dancer in the theatre and, at one time, she appeared naked on the stage in the days when naked performers weren't allowed to move. But she could also be strangely prudish about nudity and, although only a relatively small percentage of my photographs are nude, I reckon that she would not have been too enthusiastic. However, she was proud of the fact that I qualified as a solicitor and I remember that, when I qualified, she had some business cards printed for me which I found very touching.
So, Sleep and Mothers. What has that got to do with Yasmina's beautiful photograph? Well, the picture was taken by Yasmina as I lay in a birthing pool she had obtained and filled with water in the living room of her family home. My eyes were closed and I felt so comfortable there, especially after the initial shots where Yasmina wanted me to lie on my back with my head just submerged. I just couldn't do it without swallowing water resulting in a coughing, splurting fit. In this pose I was much more relaxed and, in fact, it is the position I take up as I go to sleep at night. And Mothers? Well, Yasmina's mother was assisting her that day on the shoot. She had collected me from St. Albans station while Yasmina set everything up at home. This was a first - a shoot where the photographer's mother acted as assistant - but what I learned on the way to their house was that her mother was very supportive of the career which Yasmina had decided to follow and that she and her husband were both very proud of what she had achieved. There was another connection in that her mother worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital which is just round the corner from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where I had my Deep Brain Stimulation operation. It felt comforting having a medically trained person there whilst I was swallowing the contents of the birthing pool.
I first saw Yasmina's work on the Free Range site in the summer of 2015 - she was a recent graduate from Falmouth University. I had not been able to make it to the degree shows themselves and so I looked through the site and came across the most amazing photographs by Yasmina. They were absolutely stunning but even more stunning were the original prints which Yasmina showed me at her house.
I suppose that I must have spent about an hour and a bit at Yasmina's place before I dried myself off and took my leave of her. Her mother drove me back to the centre of StAlbans and very kindly dropped me off at the Cathedral which I had always wanted to visit. It was magnificent and,as I wandered around, I reflected on the time I had spent with Yasmina. What a refreshingly committed young photographer she is. She has a lovely character and a clear and incisive mind as was confirmed by the images she sent through afterwards. They were all superb - it came to a choice between two and I plumped for this. The light, the pose, the gentleness of the cloth draped over me all combine to create a picture of sheer grace and delicacy. And what is more exciting is the thought that Yasmina will be producing photographs of this quality for years to come. Wonderful.