Monday, 6 July 2020

MECAELLA VASCONCELOS The Shoot - Part Two

The colours were beautiful that morning. It was 6am and the sun was low and painted everything with a golden tinge - the sea, the sand, the pebbles, the rusted corregated metal fences attached to the aging wooden breakwaters. Mecaella and I clambered down onto the beach and parked next to one of the large grey boulders which were waiting for us to lie on.

We looked at each other and had the same thought. Let's start with some portraits. This must have been one of the first shots taken and it is one of the best. We were both relaxed and I looked deep into the lens. I really wanted Mecaella to feel my presence, to know that I was giving all of myself to this shoot. She has, in turn, captured beautifully the contrasting colours - the grey of my T shirt, the pale blue sky, the darker blue of the sea, the differing browns of the beach, the pebbles lit by the sun, the creamy palour of my skin, even the green of my eyes. 

The shapes of the boulders looked inviting and I removed my clothes and sat amongst them uneasily. The camera has caught my feeling of awkwardness or maybe it is a vulnerability? Whatever the suggestion, the actuality of the light and shade and the angles of the shadows, my naked limbs and the rocks serve to create a mix of emotions. We were getting closer to the eroticism of shapes and textures that we had talked about in recent days.

Then, I lay on the most inviting rock facedown to produce the shot below.

My vanity flinched when I first saw this but time has passed and I look at it with different eyes now. The body made flesh by the sun has a wonderful tone and, although it may not be everyone's idea of erotica, there is a beautiful sensuousness in seeing soft flesh laid out on the hardness of the rock. Somehow the lines of the elastic of my shorts pressed on my waist add a sexual element - very small and unintentional but it is there.

We walked to the edge of the sea first ooching and ouching across the pebbles and then luxuriating on the hard surface of the sand which gave way under our feet as the waves edged towards the shore. By this time, I was frozen even though the sun was higher in the sky. The water felt almost tepid as I dowsed Mecaella's white sheet in the sea and then at her request held it up so that it pressed against the outline of my body. I couldn't have felt less erotic if I had tried.

However, the calmness and warm glow permeating from this shot might suggest otherwise. Again, there is so much in this image that works. The contrasting  textures and hues, the purity of the white sheet, the fragility of my right hand decimated by Polio over 60 years go, all set against the gorgeous blue of the sky. Mecaella had some nerve that day which allied to her obvious talent has produced an excellent collection of images.

So, did we examine SEA - Sexuality, Eroticism and Attractiveness? Possibly. But all good photographers adapt to the situation and Mecaella Vasconcelos is good. She is very good.

I doubt that we shall work together again. There are no plans to do so. We achieved so much that morning. No, there are no plans to do so.......

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans"
- from "Beautiful Boy by John Lennon. 



INSTAGRAM: @mecaellava

Mecaella Vasconcelos and SEA - Part One


From the series "Ode to the Flesh" by Mecaella Vasconcelos (c)

S - Sexuality
E - Eroticism
A - Attractiveness

What do these words mean?  There was a moment when Mecaella and I stood facing each other and looked each other straight in the eye and they had no relevance to how we both felt. This was a connection between two human beings of different genders and widely different ages that spoke of our mutual love of photography and our willingness to give ourselves to the moment. Mecaella squeezed the shutter release and click, the photograph and that connection were preserved for ever.

I have Carol Morgan of Middlesex University to thank for bringing my notice to Macaella's wonderful work when she sent me "Lucid", the magazine showcasing the work of the BA students who graduated from Middlesex this year. The university has consistently produced photographers of the highest calibre and Mecaella is undoubtedly one of them. Not surprising when one is aware that the great photographer Steven Barritt was her personal tutor. Steven photographed me in his last year as a student there in 2011 as part of "Over the Hill" (https://timandrewsoverthehill.blogspot.com/2011/02/anachronism-by-steven-barritt.html)

In "Lucid" I read first the conversation between Mecaella and her fellow student Ross Boulton and immediately, I empathised with their views on the vulnerability of photographers expressing themselves even if they weren't the subject of the photograph. I enjoy expressing myself through the photographs other people take of me and often I feel an instant fellowship of two - me and the photographer - we are both putting ourselves on the line.

There then followed a question by Ross to Mecaella which resulted in a discussion concerning Sexuality, Eroticism and Attractiveness. This interested me because of what seems to me be the constant categorising of nudity as sexual or exhibitionist or weird and the perception of some commentators that l have been photographed nude so many times whereas the percentage is about 25% of the total.

Anyway, l wrote to her asking if she would like to collaborate with me and I received a very swift
and positive reply. We arranged a chat on Zoom and got on very well.  In our subsequent email correspondence we agreed that Mecaella would come to Brighton early in the morning to photograph me. And so she did and, although I posed nude in a number of shots, they were not sexual. Nor did I feel erotic although at one point I laid on the sand warmed by the sun and looked up into the deep blue of the sky and it felt sensual. I did feel a connection with Mecaella as she joined a long line of great photographic artists with whom I have worked over the last 13 years.

We returned to the house, said hi to Jane before she left for her studio and then looked at some photographs and films from a few of my exhibitions before we finished off with some simple portraits. We had fun, innocent fun, uncluttered by deep discussions of SEA. She spoke very fondly of her partner, Dan, and of her family, a mix of Polish and Portugese. I told her of my relationship with Jane and my children. I recounted stories of previous shoots, the significance of Lee Miller and my writing. She went into town while I slept, first at the keyboard and then on the floor. Then she came back, gathered her things and set off for the station.

As the song goes - it's over now and I have had my fun and what fun it has been and what a note to end on.

"It's no use in an ending to proclaim from the start
That the moral of the stories to begin"
                                 
                               - "We Will" by Gilbert O'Sullivan

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

AND FAR AWAY : A Continuing Journey

(c) Rachel Maloney

From. 2007 to 2016, I was photographed by 425 photographers. Some of them photographed me more than once. Between them, they took thousands of photographs in different styles, using different camera and ideas and concepts. I called this project "Over the Hill". I did not have one bad experience. I could have gone on and, as Rankin said, go for the 500 but I felt that there had to be an end point - I wanted to put it all into a box, tie it up with ribbon and put it on the shelf and, every so often, take it down and marvel at all the wonderful people I had met and experiences I had had and places I had been.

However, I did not want to stop seeing these guys but I wanted to try a different approach which was not all about numbers and choosing one image from each shoot. I wanted to go further (whatever that meant). So, I continued approaching photographers but with a view to examining the whole shoot and also the intellectual and emotional connection with the photographer. So began "And Far Away"......

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

LONDON INSTITUTE OF PHOTOGRAPHY




In the summer of 2019 when we used to walk about freely without being troubled by the threat of a pandemic, I received a message on my blog from the photographer, Caterana Tonne Fleur, on behalf of the London Institute of Photography (LIOP), asking if I might be interested in speaking about my projects, "Over the Hill" and "...And Far Away" at the LIOP in London. I confirmed that I would and entered into correspondence with Debbie Castro and then Holger Pooten as we planned how the talk would proceed.

I felt that I would be much more relaxed and spontaneous if, rather standing up and talking, I answered questions. So, borrowing an idea from Dave Wares who has photographed and filmed me both as part of "Over the Hill" and "...And Far Away", I chose a few photographers whose photograph of me I would show at the talk and I asked each of them to send in a question which I would answer as their picture was shown. This did not quite go as planned and this was completely my fault as I don't think I made that part of the programme clear. It wasn't helped by the fact that the name of the photographer was not shown when his or her photograph was displayed. Holger apologised for this but I should have taken control and said the name as the picture came up on the screen. I did partly redeem the situation later when I spoke in more detail about some of the photographs and mentioned the photographer by name. 

However, this was a small blip in the general enjoyment of the evening felt by me and, as far as I could see, the audience's enjoyment was not in any way adversely affected. Holger's own questions were interesting and incisive and I loved some of the photographers' questions, especially this one asked by Lenka Rayn H:-

“You have often shared in your blog not just how the photographs were taken, but also the experiences and memories from the day spent with people that you have often not previously met before.
If you had to choose between only having the memories from the day or only be left with the photographs that were taken, but have no recollection of the day which would you choose?
The experiences or the images?”

You will find the answer in the film of the event the link to which is -  https://liop.co.uk/talks/tim-andrews-over-the-hill-and-far-away/

We managed to squeeze in my Zorro film, "Todo!" and the event ended with a few questions from the audience which included one of my photographers, the delightful Thea Lovering. 

The evening ended with a jolly, chatty drink outside with Colleen Rowe Harvey.

So, a very interesting experience for me and also, I hope for the audience. I am just the model. Generally, I sit, stand, run, climb, crouch and bend and do what I'm told - the real artists, the real stars of the show are the photographers. I am very grateful to the LIOP for inviting me to speak and, in particular to Caterana, Holger and Debbie for their kindness, courtesy and hospitality. The London Institute of Photography is a great organisation - look them up!




Friday, 10 April 2020

AMEENA ROJEE - Take a Look at my Life


Yeah, an old man takes a look at his life but with a superb artist like Ameena to show him the way. Ameena likes these shots; she likes the darkness and they are dark, in both colour and mood. And yet, the shoot was uplifting as has always been the case with Ameena. This is the fourth time she has photographed me - she sent me a message suggesting that it was time for another shoot which coincided with Asia Werbel approaching me to take part in her @12smallpieces project where she would photograph me on Skype.


As always, Ameena's response was positive and enthusiastic although she had doubts about the likely quality of the photographs but I love the grainy texture which seems to hark back to the old prints of movies such as "The Dead" (John Huston 1987) and to place me in another age.

Also, for some reason, the words of Neil Young's plangent song "Old Man" come to mind -

Old man, look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were...

And I am a lot like I used to be except for a deep seated anxiety which I don't seem able to shake off in its almost daily conflict with my desire to 'go further' on my journey of discovery of my true self. Is this of any interest or importance in today's world? I dunno but it can be interesting trying to find answers and shoots with Ameena (and the others) offering a different perspective help enormously. 



Apart from that, Ameena is jolly good fun to work with. We have enjoyed a very relaxed friendship from the start. She is perceptive and knowledgeable with a good sense of humour. She can be serious though and her direction is clear and astute.




There is more to come - how good is that?

WEBSITE: https://www.ameenarojee.co.uk/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/ameenarojee

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

OLGA SECEROV - Short but sweet


Olga is a friend of Asia Werbel who has instigated the 12 small pieces project whereby photographers
will reach across borders and communicate the connections we have across the world with people of all backgrounds. Asia has said "Covid-19 is a terrible disease. It knows no borders, it preys on people of all nations. Despite the indiscriminate nature of the disease, it has been used as an excuse to divide, to conquer, to separate east from west, north from south, city from country, rich from poor.

12 small pieces is a project that seeks to break down these artificial borders. At a time when people are in isolation, under lockdown due to Covid-19 restrictions, the only form of communication is through digital platforms. In 12 small pieces, photographers, artists, and members of the public from around the world create images of the person they are digitally communicating with. It’s a project which recognises a world without borders, where the ties between us, even when only digital, are stronger than those who would break us apart."


Olga, who is originally from Sydney, had met Asia when they both attended Central St Martins School of Art in London and have been friends ever since. Asia introduced Olga by email and asked if I would be willing to be photographed again for this project and I readily agreed particularly after looking at her excellent work online. Olga and I spoke by skype and she asked me to place my face as close as possible to the screen which I did and she clicked away. It must have only taken ten minutes and afterwards we chatted a bit and she told me that her interest was in Fine Art photography and that was it. Certainly the quickest shoot I have ever had
I'm not sure what the photographs say about me. The fact that I did the shoot says that I am willing to have a go at anything where photography is concerned and, notwithstanding the speed of the shoot, I found Olga to be a very friendly and warm person. This is a very interesting and worthwhile project but, for me and I guess for the photographers too, there is no substitute for meeting and working with the photographer and subject respectively face to face and having time and space to explore different ideas and angles. Of course, that is simply not possible at the moment but in this digital age, such an idea as Asia has conceived and put into practice emphasises the necessity to continue to communicate with each other and the benefits which follow.

 Yes, very interesting and credit to Asia and Olga for putting it out there and I am most grateful to them for inviting me to take part.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/olgasecerov/

The project: http://www.instagram.com/12smallpieces

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The Marylebone Cricket Club - the MCC


1
(c) Pedro Paz Lopez
I first went to watch cricket at Lord's in 1962. I was 11 years old and my cousin, Ian, took me there. I remember that he bought a scorecard and filled it in with green fountain pen ink. My memory says that we sat on the grass within the boundary rope in front of the grandstand. All the greats were playing - Dexter, Trueman, Lock and Colin Cowdrey for England and Hanif, Imtiaz and Javed Burki for Pakistan. At one point, much to the amusement of the crowd, Fred Trueman chased a white paper bag which had blown on to the field and later, the captain, Dexter, took a marvellous catch in the deep over his shoulder. At the close of play, the Pakistan fielders and the two English batsmen disappeared into the Pavilion which, even then, looked like a building full of secrets, a tabernacle containing the blessed host of the game of cricket.

At that time, I lived with my mother and my four siblings in Finchley. My father had died in 1953 when I was two years old. I played some cricket at my prep schools, Dalkeith in Hendon and Holmewood in Woodside Park but, although I enjoyed playing, I wasn't very good. I had caught Polio in 1958 and it affected the muscles in my right hand, as a consequence of which I batted right handed and bowled left handed. My theory was that the disease in fact disturbed the balance on the whole of the right side of my body and that, but for this, I would have played cricket for Middlesex or football for Tottenham, or both! In 1964, we moved to West Wittering in Sussex and, although I went on a school trip to Hove to see Sussex play the Australian touring team in 1963, I did not see much cricket until I  returned to Lord's many years later after I had qualified as a solicitor in 1977. One afternoon, I caught a late train from Haslemere to Waterloo and then the underground to St John's Wood and then on to Lord's when I caught the last few hours of a Test Match, sitting in an almost empty stand opposite the Pavilion. As I sat there, I listened again to the ball hitting the bat, the sound of which was magnified as it bounced off the almost vacant stands and the romance of cricket began to work its magic. I stood and clapped at the end as I watched the players dressed in white, walk through the gate held open by a steward, up the steps and into the Pavilion.

After that, I decided to go to Lord's to watch cricket as much as I could and I went with professional colleagues, including solicitors, accountants and estate agents, clients and bank managers and friends and family. One particular friend, Peter Herga, was a member of the MCC and he very kindly proposed me for membership and suggested that his father should second his proposal. His father insisted on meeting me before he agreed to do so and over a couple of pints in the Tavern Bar, my application was sealed. I was placed on the waiting list and was informed that I was likely to be about 80 years old when I would become a full member. However, the MCC devised a registration scheme which had the effect of removing from the waiting list those applicants who had died since the submission of their applications or those who did wish to pay a registration fee. As a result, I shot up the list and became an associate member in 1986 and three years later a full member.

I went to the first match of the season in 1989 and proudly flashed my membership pass at the steward on the door. From that day onwards I have enjoyed many wonderful days at Lord's. In particular, meeting my niece's friend (and now mine), Izzy Duncan, in the Long Room, indeed seeing the wonder on the faces of guests at county matches walking into the Long Room for the first time, watching Darren Gough, Jimmy Anderson, Devon Malcolm, Dominic Cork and Shane Warne coming into bowl, the first ball of the 2005 test against Australia bowled by Steve Harmison and centuries by Gooch, Vaughan, Trott and Broad, often listening to Test Match Special.

In 2005, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease but I continued to come up to London for County games and Test matches at Lord's sometimes with relatives and old friends, sometimes on my own. This piece is dedicated to those friends who, in no particular order, include John Dalby, Bryan Farley, Roddy Playfair, Peter Ford, Brian Marshall, Richard Baylis, Mark Sobey, Nicholas Harding, David Lawes, Colin Dodge, Francis Martin, Alan Perry, Richard Brimacombe, George Vellam, Lin Conway, Linda Kelsey, my brother Anthony, Gary Gilhooly, Andrew and Susan Meehan, my brother-in-law Grant McLean, my son Tom, my cousin's husband, Andrew Ogden, Michael Rutherford, Gordon Woodman, Chris Cargill, Richard and Neal Jones and Michele Johnson.

iN  2014, I underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery which significantly improved my symptoms. However, in recent years, I have found the trip to London more of a chore and the cost of the annual subscription did not justify only a few visits per year even though a very good friend had been extremely generous and very kindly paid the last two years' fees. Also, I have become increasingly anxious and so on 17th March, with a heavy heart, I made the decision to relinquish my membership of the MCC. My last visit was for the second day of the Ashes Test on 15th August 2019 enjoyed very happily and appropriately with John Dalby, with whom I had also watched the World Cup Final earlier in the season. As we left the ground together, I had no idea that it would be the last time I was there as a member.

I am proud to say that I was a member of the MCC for thirty years and I am grateful to all the stewards, the restaurant, ticketing and membership staff for making that time such a pleasure. I also  enjoyed my chats with other members; most were very friendly but some, thankfully only a few, could be rude and snooty.

I shall never forget that day when I first presented myself at the back door of the pavilion and showed the steward my membership pass and he thanked me and stood aside to let me pass and I asked him where I could sit and he replied with a warm smile "Wherever you like, Sir". I walked up the stairs and into the Long Room. On the wall hung a painting of WG Grace and opposite was the beautiful portrait of the Earl of Winchelsea, the soft grey of his wig matching the colour of his coat. I walked out past the writing room and up the staircase past the astonishingly powerful painting of Viv Richards and saw the door of the home dressing room. Then down the stairs and through the Long Room Bar and then, eventually through the double doors to the white bench seats. I sat down and watched some play and the ghosts of the past, Hobbs, Bradman Compton, Marshall, Larwood, Benaud, Rhodes skipped down the steps, their boots clattering against the concrete until the sound was muffled by the rich green sward of the field of play. I leaned back against the uncomfortable slats of the bench and breathed it all in and thought of the words of CLR James "What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?" And, for the first time, I truly understood their meaning.

Later, during the lunch interval, I went to the Bowler's Bar and bought a pint of beer and stood for a few minutes looking out from the balcony, my favourite view, and then returned to my seat and took out a pork pie from my plastic lunchbox and I ate it. Perfect.