Sunday, 15 July 2018

JULIA HORBASCHK - A Labour of Love


Julia is one of my "Over the Hill" photographers but she is also so much more than that. Ever since I first met her just over five years ago to the day, she has been incredibly supportive of many of the projects in which I have become involved including the co-curation of the exhibition of more than 60 images from "Over the Hill" as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe 2014, chairing a discussion forum at Montefiore Hospital in 2017 as part of Brighton Fringe and helping me shoot some of my silly films which I produce every now and then and show on Vimeo.  But, most important of all, she has become a valued friend. She is intelligent, honest, sensitive and has a marvellously silly sense of humour. She is also lucky to have a handsome husband, Mark, whose own droll sense of humour I have been honoured to share from time to time.

However, this is not all. Julia Horbaschk is a hugely talented artist and a gifted photographer and you lucky people can discover this for yourselves if you visit Worthing Museum and Art Gallery any time (see link below for opening hours) between now and 13th October 2018 where her installation, "Labour of Love", is part of a wonderful exhibition which also includes work by Damian and Delaine Le Bas as well as work by Alex Michon.

Julia's work is deeply moving and her evocative photography is unique. I shall not say any more except PLEASE GO AND SEE IT!! You will not be disappointed.

Julia is also talking about her work at 11.30am at the museum on Saturday 28th July 2018.

Friday, 13 July 2018

VANESSA WINSHIP

Yesterday, I went to Wimbledon - I have been every year since 1968. As with football, when I was younger, I never quite associated what I saw of the sport on television with seeing it live. My father died when I was two and, as a consequence, we were very poor and so we could not have afforded the cost but also there was no-one to take me. This changed in 1968 when my sister went there on a school outing and came back to tell me of all the players she had seen close up. I took a few days off school and went along and fell in love with the place, its history and atmosphere. This love was cemented by seeing the great Australian player, Lew Hoad, on the centre court in a doubles match. Some years before, I was getting my clockwork train set down from its place on top of my mother's wardrobe when I saw an old copy of the Daily Express up there. I took it down and brushed the dust off and read the exciting report of Hoad winning the Men's Singles final in 1957. Hoad looked incredibly dashing and handsome in the printed photograph and this was the beginning of my love affair with Wimbledon.

What on earth has this got to do with Vanessa Winship? Be patient, readers, it will all become clear. 

So, yesterday, it was the 50th anniversary of my first visit and how appropriate that I should meet my very good friend Richard whom I had first met in the queue in 1971. We had a lovely three or four hours together catching up and generally indulging our very similar school boy humour. Normally, I would have stayed longer but I had to get to the Barbican where Vanessa Winship was choosing her Desert Island Pics. 

Vanessa photographed me in 2010 as part of "Over the Hill". We have kept in touch since then but we had not met since she came to our beloved Ravenswood to photograph me. Recently, I had had a bad moment when I felt alone and I reached out to all my photographers and Vanessa wrote some beautiful words in response. I got to the Barbican just in time and I leaned back in my seat as I listened to her speak. Vanessa has such a gentle voice and, as she described her feeling about each image, it was if she was taking us up to the door of a magic cave and then allowing us to venture in and understand not only her emotional connection to the picture but also our own. She did not argue her case for each choice forcibly - she did not need to. The photograph was placed on the screen and the demure, soft tones of her voice coupled with the undoubted magnificence of the image combined to express all we needed to understand her love of the image in question and her appreciation of the power of the art of photography to stir the soul.

The interview ended with Vanessa unable to choose just one of the eight photographs to take with her to the Desert Island. But the evening was not over yet. I took my place in a queue of people who requested her to sign a book of photographs which they had bought earlier. Then there was only one person ahead of me and, as Vanessa signed and thanked him for buying the book, she looked over his shoulder at me but there was no flicker of recognition. Then I stood before her. I did not say anything and Vanessa said "Hello" with a tiny question mark at the end. I said "Hello" and there followed all I can describe as a moment of purity before she exclaimed "Oh my goodness!" as she recognised me. We hugged, I cried and thanked her for the words she had written to me. We chatted briefly and she put me right on something she had said when we first met. We hugged again and I left, pausing briefly on the stairs to be greeted by Alys Tomlinson (another of my photographers from "Over the Hill").
By then, it was too late to see Vanessa's exhibition in the Barbican Gallery but it would have been rushed and you cannot rush through a display of Vanessa Winship's work. Another day, another day.

Jane had gone to bed early so I had to wait until this morning to tell her what I have told you. She remembered Vanessa from her visit in 2010 - in particular she recalled that Vanessa wore a dress that day. She asked if she was wearing a dress last night. I said she was.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

NICOLAS LABORIE - In the language of flowers Part One.



yes,
he spoke of the language of flowers,
this man of Gaul,
he spoke and, as he spoke,
i looked out of his window,
i saw my thoughts trail across
a sky as blue as that in his first film.
i stood, naked, as he shined his light on me,
it picked out the old, the new,
it bathed me,
it made me feel beautiful again,
as any human, being, gone, to become.
he asked me to do what i wanted to do,
i laid on his floor,
i looked up,
into his eyes,
i saw that he knew
i was doing what i wanted to do,
i was speaking the language
of romance, poetry, of stories new and old,
my body twisted this way, that way,
the way it used to,
i was speaking la langue,
l'ancienne langue,
des fleures,
d'amour,
d'une vie,
une vie de la beauté,
oui. 


WEBSITE: http://www.nicolaslaborie.com/

Monday, 18 June 2018

HANNAH WIRGMAN - A Day Out

(C) Hannah Wirgman
I had planned to travel to Cardiff in June 2018 to work with a photographer who had already photographed me as part of "Over the Hill" but June was a particularly busy time for her Wedding Photography business and so it was postponed. Nevertheless, I still had a hankering for another shoot and also to see my very good friend John and watch England's first World Cup match with him as we used to many years ago.

I had recently looked at some of the work that was going to be displayed at Free Range, the enormous exhibition of work in London by final year students from different Universities and I was naturally drawn to the work produced by the students from the University of West of England in Bristol which always had been of a consistently high standard. One of those students was Hannah Wirgman.

I looked at Hanah's website and thought "Hmm!" and, whenever I think "Hmm!", it often signals something special. The image that caused the Hmm! thought was a picture on her home page, of a path. Now, many people have photographed paths before so....what? Well, so this image told me something about the photographer. It is wistful, lonely and empty but there was a story behind it and that struck a chord - don't ask me which one because I know as much about music as I do about cameras. Seriously, I have always been a fan of the cinema and I love films where the the director takes you by the hand and leads you down a path but is quite happy for you either to stick to the path or to wander off it. I felt Hannah's picture of an actual path spoke to me in the same way. This was not the only image that attracted me - I really liked her "Ephemeral" project where she used a piece of frosted glass through which she photographed flowers to emphasise the fragility of life. These are beautifully lit pictures. By complete contrast, there is the joint project in partnership with photographer Sarah Robbins named "The Bravery School" consisting of some thrilling portraits full of drama and colour.

So, I thought there was a chance that Hannah might be able to squeeze in a shoot during her preparation for a busy end of her degree course. There was and she did! We discussed various ideas before we met and arranged for her to pick me up from Bristol Temple Meads Station on 18th June 2018 and I shall tell you all about that when I receive the results of the shoot from Hannah once she has found the time to look at the photographs taken on the day.

It is a story of several paths, a lost dog, fruit pastilles and what I anticipate will be some excellent photography.

Friday, 15 June 2018

JOANNE COATES - Part One. Getting back to where she once belonged.

By Joanne Coates (from her project 'North Sea Swells')
Jo is from Yorkshire. I like Yorkshire. When I was very small and living in North London, my mother advertised for a cleaner. A woman called Madge French called at our house in answer to the advert and was met with chaos. My mother had baby twins (me and my sister, Sally) and another daughter, Janet, aged six, and my brother aged three. My mother was nowhere to be seen and so Miss French went back to her bedsit and recounted what had happened to her landlady who, fortunately for us, persuaded Madge to go back. From that day on, Madge was a fixture in our lives, until she died in 2010, aged 97. The reason I mention her is that she came from Yorkshire - hence my association with and love for the county.

What was it that attracted me to Jo's work in the first place? I think it was the photograph on the Home page of her website. It shows a long track bounded by dry stone walls and it made me think of my favourite film directors who, in telling a story, lead you along a path but allow you to wander off and discover for yourself. Jo likes to tell a story.

After weeks of emailing, we met in a gallery in Northallerton. She was wearing a floral dress and pink shoes. We chatted and then caught the bus to Bedale and then another bus to Leyburn which passed the house which she shares with her boyfriend, Dan. Each town was prettier than the next. We talked quite a lot. No, I talked a lot. That is not to say that Jo didn't because she did but I began to wonder if I was boring her. At one point, to while away some time waiting for the bus to Leyburn, we walked into the church in Bedale. It was full of colour, from the kaleidoscopic stained glass windows to the rich red of the pew cushions and the deep polished brown of the pulpit. I felt in a state of real connection both with Jo and the church as we sat down on a pew next to a side chapel. It seemed (to me, anyhow) that, gradually, we were beginning to click but a stifled yawn over a sandwich in Leyburn was a signal that we should go our different ways - Jo back home to work and me to my accommodation at the Blue Lion in East Whitton.  Later, as the light faded, I strolled to a few yards to the church and, as I went past a field of sheep, it was like setting off an alarm as several little stocky lambs ran towards me bleating loudly and fearlessly. 

Dan, Jo and Joe Robinson at Oxgoddes Farm, Paull
The next day, Jo and Dan collected me in Dan's car, a black pick-up, and we set off in the direction of Paull on the east coast close to the mouth of the River Humber. When I was a little boy aged about eight, I stayed with two of my sisters at Oxgoddes Farm near Paull. It was then owned by the Dixons. Suzanne Dixon's sister was a dancing friend of my mother and, for a few years, some of us went to stay there in the summer holidays. The Dixon family subsequently moved to Canada where the three children still live. Dan and Jo kindly indulged me by searching for and finding the farm which is now owned by a Mr and Mrs Robinson who, with typical northern hospitality, welcomed us with a cup of coffee and a short tour of their land. We then set off for Spurnpoint on the coast, a bleak strip of land bounded by the North Sea on one side and quicksand on the other and, if that isn't enough, home to a colony of deadly caterpillars. It is also full of old blocks of concrete and wire and discarded lobster cages one of which Jo dragged back to Dan's pick up to take back home. Dan had driven us as far as he could in the sand and, while he parked the car, Jo and I set off for a suitable spot on the "beach" which, as Jo had said, had a strangely un-English feel to it. Jo requested me to stand with my back to the sea and asked me questions about my latest poem and to look this way and that as she looked down into her Rolleiflex and took about a dozen or so shots before the long trek back to the car. We stopped for a drink and a sausage roll in Hull before I gave up my seat in the front to Jo and nodded off in the back.

Eventually, we reached East Whitton where, Dan, a very easy going and calm companion for the day and who had driven brilliantly, took a left up a steep track so that Jo could take some more shots of me in the blustery coolness of the early evening before saying goodbye with an awkward hugkiss at the hotel. A very enjoyable day was followed by a deep, untroubled sleep.

I decided to beat Storm Whimper by leaving early the next day and Dan gave me a lift to Northallerton and, almost like magic, four changes, several delays and a couple of cancellations later, I reached home in the time it would have taken to fly to New York.

Jo is a lovely person, whose work reflects her intense fascination with the stories people tell about themselves and their environment and the way they think. She then presents it pictorially with exceptional skill and imagination and lures you into the world of her subjects and her own thought processes which both interest and surprise you in equal measure.

Links:-


Magenta Emerging Talent Winner 2016 

Recent Projects & Commissions 







Wednesday, 9 May 2018

...AND FAR AWAY

My photographic project, "Over the Hill", which involved me being photographed by 425 photographers over a period of 9 years, came to an end in 2016. I wanted it to be a complete project and to be able to put it in a box, tie it up with ribbon and put it on the shelf and, every so often to take it down and look again at the incredible work created by the photographers. I have Parkinson's Disease although "Over the Hill" was never intended to be a documentation of my illness but rather a means of documenting myself at a time when I happened to be ill.

However, l have continued collaborating with photographers (some of whom I have worked with before) but approaching it in a slightly different way in that, instead of looking for a single image to represent the photographer in my project, l am examining the shoot as a whole and the emotional and intellectual connection with the photographer. So, not an awful lot different but it doesn't quite feel the same and it does tend to be more collaborative.

".....And Far Away" is a new chapter in my life; it will include not only the said collaboration with photographers but also all my other artistic endeavours and adventures.

RITE: on this pliant body we slip our WOW!

(c) Anne Tetzlaff
"It’s the responsibility of an artist that we have a voice to say something about the world. There is an opportunity in these times. Artists are thinking it’s not a time to be lethargic or passive, it’s a moment to respond to,”. So says Florence Peake as quoted in an article in the Independent and, if there is ever a time for artists to make their voices heard, it is now in this era of world-wide (not so) civil wars being waged with weapons in places like Syria and, up to now, with words in Trump's America and Brexitland. Indeed, I understand that the idea for this performance came in 2016, the year of Brexit and the election of President Trump. Peake felt there were parallels with 1913, the year in which Stravinsky wrote The Rite of Spring and the fracturing of Europe was about to lead to world war followed by the rise in populist right wing politics. The music was written for the ballet choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky which ballet has been transposed by Peake to what she describes as 'performative sculpture'.

(c) Anne Tetzlaff


Our daughter recently sent us a link to a TED talk given by Theo E.J. Wilson (see https://youtu.be/OqUaEJLfrLo) and it had a significant effect on my thinking so far as Brexit was concerned in that he seemed to be saying that it is no good just swatting away views and opinions with which we do not agree and feeding on our own prejudices and on what google, twitter and facebook think we want to hear - it is important that we understand why the people who hold those opposing views came to do so in the first place. If you are convinced of the rightness of your own beliefs, you are not going to change the minds of your "opponents" by shouting louder than them. I am a bear of little brain so forgive me if I have misinterpreted all this. Even if I have, I still believe that the way forward has to involve discussion, humility and tolerance. Although, if your opponent is waving a sword in your face and you hold up a mighty biro in defence, the conversation may end sooner than you had hoped.

(c) Anne Tetzlaff

I love performance art and especially that which is as brave and expressive as RITE. Unfortunately, I reached the De La Warr Pavilion five minutes after the performance had started but I found a seat at the side and, after pausing to wonder who was the familiar looking guy sitting in front of me, I donned my waterproof poncho ready for when the dancers started throwing mud around. The performance lasted an hour but no-one was short changed. It was thrilling. The cast comprised three female dancers and two male. They were all naked, which wasn't the original intention but, in rehearsal, it was found the mud got stuck in the costumes and leotards. However, I feel that the impact of the piece would not have been as strong if the participants had been clothed. Their nakedness somehow accentuated the connection with the audience many of whom I sensed would have loved to have stripped off and joined in at the end if the loudness and length of the applause at the close was anything to go by. My abiding memory was the sight of one of the male dancers standing tall at curtain call, covered in mud with a wide grin on his face and his chest pumping in and out as he listened with pride to the whoops and whistles of joyous celebration emanating from the audience. 

(c) Anne Tetzlaff

I congratulated Florence Peake afterwards and, in response to my question, she confirmed that she was Mervyn Peake's granddaughter and pointed out that her father, the artist, Fabian Peake was there. Of course - it was the guy in the audience I had noticed earlier! I had met him some years before at the Mervyn Peake Awards which were administered by Parkinson's UK on behalf of the Peake family. I went over and said hello and we chatted briefly until I had to rush off for my train, passing a young couple on the way, doing their own carefree version of the exhilarating dancing we had all just witnessed.

For those who have seen RITE and perhaps also for those who have not yet seen it, there is a talk by Florence Peake at De La Warr pavilion at 12 noon on Saturday 12th May next and the set of the performance will be on display from 12th May until 2nd September (see https://www.dlwp.com/exhibition/florence-peake/).

Also, it is bound to be performed again and, if so, I urge you to see it.

It is, well, just beautiful.