Friday, 21 March 2014


SOME ENCHANTED EVENING by Jean-Luc Brouard (Make-up: Elloise Willett)

My return to Grouselands (sigh). This was the house we stayed in between selling our beloved Ravenswood and buying our present house in Brighton. We were there from December 2010 to May 2011 and I loved every minute of it. It was a large house in beautiful grounds, surrounded by acres of fields and just about every morning, I would go out into the garden very early in the morning and just play. I took some self portraits but mostly, I made stop motion films. The early spring was wonderful and the dawn chorus was deafening especially when the cows and sheep joined in.  In complete contrast, Jane hated it. She found that she couldn't work there, the nearest town was the somewhat uninspiring Horsham about 3 miles away and she wanted to be in our own house again. Of course, I had some great shoots there including Chris Floyd, Frank Herholdt and Alma Haser and also the feature on The Culture Show was filmed and recorded there. So, a happy productive place with great memories.

I found out about Jean-Luc Brouard through Twitter I think; one of us started following the other but, either way, I found his website and the astounding images of trees and I thought that I'd love to be in a similar image relating in some way to a tree. Jean-Luc responded very positively to my approach and suggested we meet for a coffee and that he bring along a make-up artist, Elloise Willett, with a view to discussing her painting my body to tie in with the shoot. Well, we did meet and I do feel that we all got on rather well and, during the discussion, I said that I would ascertain if Grouselands was free because I thought that in my current more spazzy state, having the tree near to a house and, more specifically, near to a bathroom would be a Good Idea. 

Jean-Luc and I had an initial scouting trip and he found the tree that would work and a few weeks later, we returned there with Elloise on a very cold evening in March. Elloise painted me all over (apart from my not so private parts which I did under her direction) and Tree Man was driven down to the field where, fortunately, the tree was still growing and where Jean-Luc had set up the shots. By this time ie March, my illness was getting appreciably worse and I found it more difficult to move about but I think the challenge of this particular shoot inspired me and I managed to make my way over the field to the tree and basically we did two poses - one with me up against the tree trunk and the other with me standing some way in front of the tree. All the while, Jean-Luc buzzed backwards and forwards chatting to himself and to us - a sort of running commentary. I'm not quite sure how he achieves these shots but he used large lights which lit up the whole of the tree and he carried them from one side to another whilst he took the pictures on a slow shutter speed to swallow up the light. At one point, as I first stood there naked in the freezing cold, I thought I would love to be back home in the warm but then I crossed a line and suddenly I wanted to be there all night and do more and more pictures. After the first shot, Elloise came over and wrapped a blanket around me and it was such a sweet, inclusive gesture and I really felt part of our little team battling against the cold to get the best shot. 

And then it was over.

I was taken back to the house and had a shower and then we went home to bed. I snuggled up in the warm and, as my head sunk into the pillow, I closed my eyes and began to dream that I was naked in an enchanted field and holding onto a tree which was lit up with a silver light. It wasn't a dream of course - it really did happen. It was some enchanted evening.

Jean-Luc couldn't help himself and the next day, I received two rough versions of the pictures he took and they were beautiful as all his work is but this time, I was in the photograph and I thought, wow! I'm in one of Jean-Luc's photographs. A dream come true. 



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