Well, just one week to go and it has been fun. I have recently taken some friends and my twin sister, Sally to the exhibition and they have all enjoyed it. As you can see from the composite picture above, there is such a variety of images and means of approaching the same subject - me. But not only that, each photograph is excellent. Each time I put a photograph up I held it in front of me and thought, "this is a great photograph!" and then, once they were all up, I thought "Wow!" A question that has been asked of me a lot over the last few weeks is "How do you feel seeing so many photographs of yourself?" It is strange but I feel quite separate from them - obviously, my face is familiar to me but it is almost like looking at someone else. However, when I look at them all, I feel a great sense of pride that I have managed to bring all these superb artists together and I find it incredibly moving that they have each worked so hard to produce an amazing image.
The other question often asked is "Which is your favourite?" Well, I can now reveal the one I like best - it is (drum roll) the one top left by Mike McCartney. I love him, I loved the shoot and I love the picture with Peter Pan in the background. Yep, that's the one! Although, I quite like the Rankin one next to it. What a day that was - nice chap and good fun and a great shot. Sorry, Mike it's the Rankin. Mm, actually, can I change my mind because Steve Bloom's pic (3rd from left, top row) is bloody good and it got into the final exhibition at the Taylor Wessing Prize in the National Portrait Gallery. No. it has to be Steve's - yes, that is it. And yet, and yet, I have always had a soft spot for the next one, "Beautiful Decay" by the lovely Danielle Tunstall - oh, Steve, I am sure you will understand that and accept that this is a fantastic shot taken by someone who, at the time, had only owned a camera for two years and had to wait for the kids to go to sleep before she could work on her images and she is the sweetest person as well. Congratulations! The number one! But, no, how can I choose that and ignore the next one with the dinosaur. Clayton, so generous with is time and so imaginative in creating his final image. I LOVE this. How could I have chosen anything else? There we are - I feel so much better having chosen the one.
Look, I must apologise but what about Tanya Simpson's shot of me in the sea on Portobello beach in Scotland or Jeronimo Sanz' manipulated image of my self portraits or Henrietta Bowden-Jones' photo or Jim Stephenson's brilliantly funny one of me rolled up in the backdrop? Yes, "Cadbury's Dairy Milk" by Robert Ludlow. Yes! No! I've made my mind up - it's definitely Cat Lane's "Under the Pier" well, either that or me on the railway line photographed by the gorgeous Jacqui Booth but then there is Hannah Lucy Jones' polaroid. No, enough of this, my favourite is....Kathy Foote's underwater shot - full of colour and light! But for goodness' sake, it has to be Nigel Maudsley's beautiful "Distant" but even he might agree that "Fitzrovia Chapel" by Claude Savona should be chosen given the connections to my family. Ok, Erika Szostak's "No Expectations" featuring the incredible make up by Elloise Willetts. At last! Well, I'm glad that's sorted.......except Viveca Koh's shot of me and her cat, Milo, will always be my number one. Amanda Harman I...er.. have to tell you that my favourite photo in this show is yours! It is the one of me on the beach at West Wittering, my childhood home - next to the best one of all by Lenka Rayn H. However, talking of beaches, Max Langran took that excellent shot of me "Early One Morning" - that eclipses everything else, Max - well done - if it wasn't for Steve Segasby's pic, you would have been my favourite but even Steve would stand aside for the gorilla suit by Jay Brooks or "Comfort " by the lovely Gemma Day or "Three Colours Tim" by Amit Lennon........or maybe the superb B & W study by Daniel Regan? No, forget it - I have just looked again at "Limpid Flight" by Elaine Perks but how would her colleague Tess Hurrell feel? Doesn't matter because I have just realised that "Eloquence" by Tess is my special one. Thanks Tess.
What am I thanking Tess for? It is magnificent image but, talking of hands, look at "Jamais" by Itziar Olaberria - it wins, hands down! if it wasn't for the photo taken by Strat Mastoris on the beach - you know, the one of me reading the Guardian but, come on, Cathy Pyle's "Light and Dark" take a bow, my favourite photograph in the show! Take a Bow? Hang on - Ben Smith - how can I ignore this? Well, I have to because of Katariina Jarvinen's silky smooth "Silent Moment". But what about the noise coming from The Wet Plate Collodion method applied by the handsome Nicolas Laborie??
Well, no more noise than is coming from under the black cloth supplied by Ameena Rojee - you cannot hide class can you, Matt Finn? A class act. And that is what in my mind speaks so loudly from Michela Griffith and Denise Myers or is it Dave Wares? Some sunset, Dave - you win or you would have but for "Control" by Anja Barte Telin & Moa Thörneby. So, where were we? Oh yes, Mike McCar......I can't choose a favourite and do you know why? Because they are all my favourites and I have loved every minute of every shoot.
Thank you, Montefiore (Sandeep, Gavin and Tom). Thank you Keely Harrison for the great publicity - see especially the feature on BBC TV - https://vimeo.com/218429539. Thank you Alex Bamford for the labels, Julia Horbaschk for chairing the discussion on 14th May, my wife for her support and forbearance, Parkinson's UK for the frames and Parkinson's Disease itself, without which NONE of this would have happened. Amen.