Sunday, 8 May 2016

MY RIGHT FOOT by Imogen Freeland

MY RIGHT FOOT by Imogen Freeland

Now, do you know what this foot has done during the last 65 years? No? Well then I shall tell you. I was always predominately right-footed when I played football unlike the great Glenn Hoddle of Tottenham Hotspur and England who could play sublime football with either foot. I had Polio when I was 7 and it was thought that it only affected the muscle in my right thumb but I loved playing so much that I think, in a small way, it probably affected the whole of the right side of my body. I scored a lovely goal in the University Five-a-side match in about 1973. I was standing on the edge of the penalty area and I called for the ball and smacked it straight into the goal. With my right foot.

Before that I kicked a dent in the door of the sitting room at Berry Cottage, our childhood home in West Wittering. We had no money and my mother, who was terribly romantic, bought a Great Dane from the local Dog Rescue Unit. I couldn't believe how she could do this when we hardly had enough to live on. I didn't understand that, sometimes, we have to fulfil our fantasies and who the hell was I to make a big deal about it? Anyway, it left a dent after I kicked the door. With my right foot.

Two more things. The first relates to my right shin rather than my foot but, as my shin is in this photograph, it has relevance. On 26th September 2011, I was photographed by the great Kirsty Mitchell for her Wonderland project. After the first shot, we moved to a new location. Stupidly, I carried a box of stuff as we set off through the woods and because of this, banged my right leg on a thick branch and a huge lump appeared under my stocking. Eventually, after some weeks, it went down but it never completely disappeared. You can just see it in this photograph. And, finally, I got Cellulitis in my right foot in December 2015 - it was not fun. So nothing very exciting about all that but what is exciting about this picture is that it was taken by Imogen Freeland who spent a few hours at my home photographing me. 


I had never met Imi before but we got on very well. She asked me to undress from the start and we moved from one room to another. The photographs are very stark and bright. Your eyes have nowhere to hide. My body is presented in such a way that challenges the viewer to answer the question - what is a body? A conduit, a casing that, my essence, my brain, my beliefs, my memories and my fears. This photograph is beautiful. It shows a part of me that is slowly disintegrating but still boasts a resilience, lines from the past and a faltering strength. It speaks for my whole body. It has almost had enough... but not quite. For, as long as I have that urge to run up and kick a ball that comes bouncing my way, I shall keep going. That urge. That urge is me.

I came across Imogen''s work in March 2016. It was intrusive, honest, raw, beautiful. Perhaps at last, I had found what I had been searching for? Someone whose work I could dive into, let it wash over me, drown in. As I answered the door, I wasn't sure. As I made her a cup of tea, I wondered. As I showed her around the house, I hesitated. As I removed my clothes, I blinked. Then she took the first photograph. Yes, this could be it - yes, I think so. Then she photographed my right foot.

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