Friday, 28 April 2017

INSIDE THE OUTSIDE - Part Two

                                                     But, is it Art?
It was a superb pass by Eriksen to Alli which lead to the equalising goal for Tottenham against Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi-final on Saturday 22nd April 2017 but it was not enough - Spurs were beaten and I lost all round having decided to watch the match instead of venturing outside to see the opening of the Inside the Outside show at MMX Gallery held on the same night. However, as all Spurs' fans will understand, it had to be done.

I saw the show when it was presented last year in Nottingham but it is not only the work produced by this wonderful collection of photographic artists that I missed seeing again but the artists themselves, most of whom have photographed me as part of my photographic project, Over the Hill

The show is on until 3rd June - i.e. beyond the end of the domestic football season, so no excuses - I shall see you there.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

LINDA LIEBERMAN - UNDERCURRENT

So, what is going on at Shotgun Studios? Well, last night it was a real bash and, having failed to attend any previous openings of exhibitions of work by Linda Lieberman and, having decided (wrongly) to watch Tottenham play Chelsea in the FA Cup instead of going to the Indie the Outside show last weekend, I felt I had to get to Acton to see this. 


The portents were not good. In the morning, I awoke with a 'funny tummy' but then went back to bed and slept it off. Then my brother texted to say that he had some sort of flu virus and wouldn't be able to meet me at or after the show. However, I finally got myself ready, put on my new snazzy coat, and walked out of the front door with the buttons done up the wrong way. At its best, the coat makes a statement; buttoned up incorrectly undermines that somewhat. Anyway, I got to Brighton Station in time and then up to Victoria and a quick showing of my face at "Italian Job" the latest exhibition put on by the amazing Monica Collusi (the subject of a separate post) and then off to Acton via the underground to East Acton, the Number 70 bus to Acton Central and a short walk to 37 Churchfield Road. The journey sounds complicated but the gallery is within easy reach by car or Overground to Acton Central station - it's just that, without labouring the point too much, it was a bit of a trek for a man with Parkinson's Disease.

Anyway, all thoughts of trekking disappeared in an instant as I entered the gallery and saw Linda at the back, looking gorgeously young and vibrant and dressed in black. She broke off a conversation with a typically polite apology to a friend and turned to give me the best hug since....well, the last one she gave me. Her first question after we uncoiled ourselves was "Has it been awful getting here?" to which I answered "Yes", not because I was looking for sympathy but because, on a quick visual sweep of the work on the walls, I wanted her to know how much it meant for me to be there. 


Someone took a photograph and then we chatted but, of course, Linda was in demand and so we were interrupted but that gave me time to look at pictures in their full glory that I had only ever seen online. All the while, we were entertained by Wilmer Sofentes, one of South America's leading percussionists, accompanied by Diego Laverde on the harp. I met the owner of the gallery, an extremely tall and extremely nice New Zealander called Nathan Coleman who works in the City but has a passion to run Shotgun Studios and Gallery for contemporary art and music, involving the local community in the process. I commented on his height (he used to be a very effective lock forward) and congratulated him on what is clearly a great show in which Linda's skills as a painter and sculptor are on display as well as her marvelous photography. Her work is very serious but cheeky with it. She makes important points about over-fishing but she also cocks a wink at the viewer by her inventive use of nudity and humour.





I left Linda to her adoring public and went to down the basement showroom to see the stunning photographs of bums and breasts adorned with fish and thought back to my own first shoot with Linda in 2011 when, wearing a loin cloth, I grew strangely attached to two fish hung around my neck. Whilst downstairs, I listened to the beautiful voice of Ana Arts who sat and sang for an appreciative audience. As Nathan explained to me, he likes to put on a show. 

But, what a show! What a woman! What an artist! If the only thing that my photographic project "Over the Hill" had given me was my friendship with Linda Lieberman, I would be very, very happy indeed. As it happens, I have been photographed, twice,  by her and hugged by her several times too! How cool is that? I said my farewells and the trip home felt easier and I sat and told Jane of my day and she told me of hers and all was right with the world. I went to bed, flirted briefly with idea of reading my book but wisely turned out the light and dreamed of fish until I was woken by a gang of seagulls landing on and taking off from the roof above my ceiling and got up to write this about a very special person.

LINDA'S WEBSITE: http://www.lindalieberman.com/

SHOTGUN WEBSITE : http://www.shotgunstudios.co.uk/

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

CONCLUSION - Heidi Kuisma - Part Four


I have been feeling particularly melancholy recently and I think this is not just because of my illness but because of the ludicrous decision made by 52% of the voting population to leave the European Union. We seem to have suddenly been thrown back 30 years or so and, instead of old-fashioned and outdated attitudes, especially with regard to immigration, gradually dying out,  they have seemingly been given a new breath of life. One of the consequences of the result of this stupid referendum was the decision by Heidi to return to Finland. So, when I looked recently through the second batch of photographs which Heidi took on our shoot, I felt incredibly sad not just for her but for all young people in the UK who will have to live with the effects of this decision for a long time. However, now that the decision to leave has been made, I just hope that some good will come from all this.

That said, my knowledge of International affairs in general and the EU in particular is not that great but certainly was not increased by the quality of debate before the referendum was held.

Anyway, enough of all that - l have put together a slideshow of some of Heidi's images which you can see on Vimeo, the link to which is https://vimeo.com/210249071.

It was a beautiful day spent in the company of one of the nicest people I have ever met - Heidi Kuisma - a talented, sensitive and intelligent person. a fellow European with a huge love of photography.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A PAGE TURNED TONIGHT

K A N O J O 彼女 かのじょ
Exhibition from 2nd to 20th April 2017

A page turned tonight.

This was a pleasant surprise because at a lot of Private Views, I find I get flustered by the amount of people and I start to become Parkinsony and my voice goes etc etc. The pleasant surprise here was that I wasn't allowed to by the lovely Monica Colussi who curated the show. She was everywhere last night, introducing people and explaining how the show came about. She is tall, willowy and handsome and her face is open and bright and she clearly loves what she does.

(c) Vanja karas

So, why was I there? I was invited by Vanja Karas who was one of the photographers for my project "Over the Hill" which ended last year. She wrote a few days ago saying that two of her photographs of me would be on show. The invitation mentioned other artists but I didn't have time to look at their work online before I got there. 

Vanja and me

I arrived and collected a glass of fizz from the bar and looked around and saw Vanja across the room. I forgot how beautiful she is. She was with a very smart looking guy who, when I placed him in his usual garb of apron decorated by splodges of chemicals, I recognised as Nicolas Laborie who had also photographed me. We chatted until I felt they had had enough of Tim Andrews and I wandered around the show. I assumed, when I walked in, that only a few of Vanja's works were on show but gradually I realised that these gorgeous circular land and seascapes were hers too and then the Clown, and then the beautiful photograph of the little boy where she captured so brilliantly an expression that was older than his years and then the stunning picture of the four TV screens in a line sending out their subliminal messages into a dark, empty room. And finally, a heart constructed of burned out matches with a simple poem of love inside. I was so impressed. I had seen Vanja's work online but seeing it up on a wall is very special. You appreciate the breadth of her imagination and vision and her appreciation of colour and form.



But....then I wandered a bit more and looked at Ilsa Brittain's exquisite portraits and Elodie Montoro's fascinating installation piece and then the incredible works by Eve Carcan which blew me away. Each piece was a diptych comprising a photograph and a painting based on the photograph. First, I stood and looked at the multicoloured sports crowd and then the gorgeous splash of colour in the painting beside it. I thought "Wow!" and then I thought a few more wows when I moved on to the Cheetah suddenly brought to life with a splattering of black on white. I wanted to meet Eve to say how wonderful her work was. I asked this person and that but eventually, it was Monica who took me over to two women dressed in black, Patricia Carpani and Claudia Cantoni, and said "These are Eve!" I discovered that Patricia took the photographs and Claudia did the painting. I congratulated them both but it was Claudia that I asked whether the painting was as "free" as it appeared or was it painstaking and laborious. Free was the answer and I was so pleased because that is what comes across in the work so strongly. She rushed off to find a catalogue which she gave to me to keep.

(c) Vanja Karas

By now I was being ushered to and fro by Monica to join in photographs and she insisted on her being photographed next to Vanja's two photographs of me. It was then that Monica introduced me to Rosemary, the grandmother of her children. I shook her hand and she held it as she explained that her mother had had Parkinson's and so she understood something of what I had been through. And then her hand slipped quietly from mine and she looked at me with the most gentle of smiles.

Karen Ballantyne and me

 By now, I was on my third glass of fizz (or was it fourth?) and felt that it was time to run away. Even then I was caught on the stairs by a guy who asked what I was thinking as I looked out of the window in Vanja's photograph. I couldn't remember but as I spoke to him I explained that Vanja had been as close to me as I was to him and I looked deep into his eyes and then said "but then the camera intervened" and I brought  my hand up between our faces. That is what Vanja does - she looks into your eyes and enters your thoughts and then she brings up her camera and click! she has infiltrated your soul and then she lowers her camera and smiles as you both recognise that for a brief moment, you have travelled a path together. Finally, I kissed her goodbye and shook hands with her strikingly handsome husband and staggered upstairs only to bump into Chuck Noble and we spoke about new chapters in one's life and how, before one knows it, the page has turned and a new chapter has begun. 

A page turned tonight.

Monday, 27 February 2017

MAGIC - Heidi Kuisma - Part Three

 Heidi and I created these wonderful images. We hardly knew each other before this day. We had met for an hour over a drink the week before and then we travelled up the A23 to this magical place and indulged ourselves by taking photographs.
 I love this one - the smooth skin stretched over my bones, the pimple on my hip, the flesh on my arm, the hairs on my forearm, the light across my figure
 Why do photographs showing a person reflected in a mirror rarely satisfy ? Why does this one work? The despair multiplied? The bare light bulbs? The vanity mirror? It all works.
 Nude

                                                            Naked - in black and white.
    More despair. I love body shapes. The more one looks, the less the shape is a body but becomes a   piece of architecture

 Heidi's brilliant idea. Nude in a cupboard
 Imbalance

  A bare body on a bare floor

Cold and wet with desire

A favourite walk


We reach a holy place at the last

These are very special to me and I hope special to Heidi. They talk of hope and discovery and friendship. They speak of drama and romance, flesh and bone. What more can I say but God speed Heidi! Enjoy the rest of your life and, when you next look up at the light coming through a window, it will be a time to think of a blustery day in England when two strangers became friends.


EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR - Heidi Kuisma - Part Two

There is excitement in the air,
There is drama and romance and love,
There is a figure waiting bravely in the dark,
Not for me but for her life to restart.

She talks to the stars in the night sky,
She hums a tune she heard once,
She walks briskly towards me, opens the door,
We do not kiss, once we did but no more.

It seems strangely beautiful,
It seems perfect and correct,
It seems there are no words to rescind
As we drive through the wind.

Then we are alone and you smile,
Then I look into your eyes, I smile too,
Then I look at the blue in your hair
And feel there is something to share.

We move through the house,
We move to a beat,
We move as my eyelids close.
I stand in the hall I remove my clothes.

I feel you move around me,
I feel the cold and the warmth,
I feel I am reaching out to you,
As the rain stops, gives way to blue.

We drive away from that place,
We drive away the demonic,
We drive away the water dripping on the glass,
As we reach a holy place at last.

You have travelled a long way with me,
You have still a long way to go,
You and I together we stand and stare
But for you, there is excitement in the air.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A NEW START - Heidi Kuisma Part One

Heidi and Tim


There are not many things for which I can thank the millions of people who voted to leave the EU - in fact, there are none except it meant that I got to work with Heidi Kuisma, the Finnish photographer who speaks with a delicate Scottish lilt gained from spending ten years in Glasgow before she came to live in Brighton. The vote on 23rd June 2016 caused her to take stock of her life and she decided to return to Finland although I am sure that that will not be the end of the story. Heidi has a thirst for new adventures having sold many of her worldly goods including (gulp) the bulk of her vinyl record collection.

Today, I woke at 4.50am and left the house an hour later to collect Heidi and we set off for our own little adventure. We had been emailing each other for quite a while and, when I heard she was leaving us, I was determined to have a go at squeezing in a shoot before she left. We met for the first time last week to discuss some ideas but really to get to know each other - I think we both needed to have this initial meeting to remove any possible awkwardness on the shoot and it worked. Heidi was ready and waiting in the dark outside her (almost) empty flat and jumped into the seat next to me with a bright smile and we set off down the A23 to the house where Jane and I stayed in the six months between selling our beloved Ravenswood in 2010  and buying our existing house in Brighton in the following year. Heidi converses easily and, before we knew it, the car was bouncing gently down the rough track leading to the house a few miles into the countryside east of Horsham.

We were welcomed by Julie the housekeeper who made us a cup of tea (but not the promised bacon sandwich) before opening the house up for us. She retired to her cottage and we explored the house. The storm which had been forecast began to build up and so we did not venture outside until later apart from one quick tiptoed trip to an open doorway so that Heidi could shoot me through an old metal window followed by an even quicker return. The first shot was in the hall and we both smiled as we recognised the significance of it being the first click of the shutter which calmed whatever nerves we each had. Gradually, we made our way around the house and Heidi with a calm assurance drew a more adventurous spirit out of me. The sun appeared and flooded through the windows. We wandered across the lawn which had been my playground six years ago and I felt we were really in tune with each other as Heidi clicked way.

Heidi is not so much shy as retiring. A gentle soul with a spark of invention and a lovely warmth which shone through when we made our way back and she chatted easily to Julie who made us a coffee (but no bacon sandwich) and, as promised, I showed Julie and her friend Lin some films of my granddaughter, Mabel.

We said our goodbyes and we left them to their (our) bacon sandwiches and drove back to Brighton. We parked near her flat and had some sweet potato chips and a drink before going on to St Bartholomew\s church. Heidi had not been inside before and was suitably impressed. It is a wonderful building full of boldly designed brickwork and gloriously solid statuary standing proud below windows both arched and circular and full of colour and light. But, impressive as all this was, I noticed a small metal stand on which two candles were slowly melting away. They seemed to represent the end of our time together - that is inevitable but I wasn't content with that. I picked up a new candle and lit it and placed it on the rack and said to Heidi that it was for her, to light the way ahead. We walked out into a clear breezy day. We had talked of going to the beach but I think we both knew we should stop while we were ahead. I asked a guy to photograph us. He did and we hugged and Heidi walked to her flat and her future and I drove home.