Wednesday, 18 July 2012

NAKED TOUCH by Gavin Evans

NAKED TOUCH by Gavin Evans

Well, this was a challenge!

I was recommended to Gavin by Laurence Winram, one of the original triumvirate of Edinburgh-based photographers who photographed me on my first trip to the City in November 2011. In fact, it was at Gavin's gallery, The Institute, that they all met and talked about my impending arrival. Anyway, back to Gavin Evans. I wrote to him by email telling him of Laurence's recommendation, my project and my admiration of his wonderful photography and he said yes! Yes is such a great word. 

Eventually, after a false start, I arranged a second visit to Edinburgh in July 2011 and set up a date with Gavin. He said that he wanted me to pose naked for his ''Touch'' project. This project, about personal space, had been going on for about five years but he had changed it for the new exhibition by introducing the requirement that the subject be naked. He said ''you must place my hand in the frame. You can do ANYTHING (his capitals) with my hand - it must be in the picture''. He thought we would come up with something very revealing.......and he was right. So, I thought about what I should do and initially given the challenging nature of the photograph, I thought it must involve my willy but then I thought that was too obvious. I then decided upon him punching me but discovered that it had been done before so finally I settled on me kissing his hand. Also, I thought that I could write something on my chest and he could hold a paintbrush so that it would look like he had painted the words.

I arrived at The Institute at the appointed time and this imposing guy with deep blue eyes (did he have deep blue eyes or was I imagining it?) walked up to me and said "You must be Tim" and he flashed a dashing smile as the eyes bored into me and he seemed immediately to know what I was thinking in the deepest, darkest depths of my addled brain. He offered me a coffee and, by this time, I had calmed down and relaxed into a comfortable conversation with him. I told him of the shoot earlier that day with Robert Ormerod, whom he had recommended to me and talked briefly of my project and also explained that a journalist would be meeting me to conduct an interview which he was quite cool with. I told him what I had decided to do with his hand and he seemed to like the idea of the kiss but said that I couldn't use a paintbrush as one of the rules was that there were to be no props. However, maybe he could just pretend that his finger had written the words. He said that, once the gallery had been cleared, he would set up an impromptu studio at the end by the bar where he would take the photograph. He told me of some others he had done recently and said that he had extended the project to include today - he was expecting some other people to volunteer later in the evening.

In the meantime, Nick Drainey, the journalist and a really nice guy, turned up and squeezed the interview in before the shoot and then hung around to watch the shoot itself. I got undressed in the newly set up studio area at the back of the gallery and Gavin lifted his camera up with his right hand and gently thrust his left hand into the shot. I took it and kissed it. We looked at the shot and Gavin said he was going to do it again - he wanted more from me. Whether he actually said it or merely suggested it with those eyes of his, I cannot now recall but I knew what was expected of me. I took his hand and this time kissed it more passionately. We looked at the image again together and again he asked for more so I put more expression into it. It was tough but fun. He then asked if there was anything else I wanted to try so we did one when I placed his hand on my breast and looked startled and then one where I held his hand lovingly to my cheek and then one where he pointed to my brain whilst I went cross-eyed. Finally, we tried the finger painting but it was not obvious that the finger had painted the words and so it seemed  that it was merely pointing at them. We agreed to delete those that hadn't worked and whittled the final choice down to about four and I left Gavin to make the final choice for our respective projects. He chose the last one because, as I said at the time, it illustrated my disease. It is also a great photograph and good fun.

I asked Gavin if I could photograph him but immediately he said no but then said that I could photograph his hands so here they are.

Gavin Evans' Right Hand

Gavin Evans' Left Hand

I got dressed and said goodbye to Gavin and received a lovely warm hug on the way out from Michaela who was working with him in the gallery and Nick gave me a lift back to Laurence Winram's house where I was staying. Laurence and his family had been away until that evening and so it was lovely to see his smiling face as I walked to the front door. He introduced me to his beautiful wife, Krista, and his two charming children. I told him all about the shoots which had taken place and in particular the shoot that evening with Gavin but we were both quite tired - he after a long car journey back home that day and me after a day in which I had been photographed by the mercurial Gavin Evans, a wonderful photographer and a very charismatic man. So we said goodnight and I stretched out on my bed with a big smile on my face and drifted off to sleep.


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