Sunday, 28 May 2017

SAMIN AHMADZADEH - REPORTRAIT - Part Three


She smiled as we reached our allotted seats at the same time approaching them from opposite ends of the carriage. I offered her my window seat but she shook her head and, after depositing my bag on the luggage rack, we both sat down and she smiled again. I got 85% of the way through the Guardian's idiot crossword and then gave up. By this time, the train had reached Leicester and I started up a conversation which was really an obvious extension to our brief smiley chat. She was French, from Paris and was studying psychology at Loughborough. I notice now that, when I told her I had Parkinson''s, my speech immediately deteriorated.  Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to announce the fact but it's a fine line. Anyway, we whiled away a pleasant few minutes before she left the train and I carried on to Nottingham, determined not to be outwitted by the Nottingham cabbies as I had been last time. This time I walked the 300 yards or so to the hotel (Fare: £0), showered and got ready for my shoot which will be the subject of a separate post.


I had arranged with the woman on reception to have a taxi take me to Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery which would be hosting the Reportrait Exhibition which included Samin's amazing work. It was a simply beautiful evening - bright, sunny and warm but with a lovely cooling breeze.  The cabbie dropped me off at the castle gate (Fare: £3.90 plus 60p tip) and I was directed onwards by a steward and up to the terrace where I found Samin looking exceptionally pretty in a lovely bluish-green and purple dress which I think she said had been made by her sister. They were in a cluster of people which included her handsome boyfriend Paul, the tall Victoria Vrublevska and boyfriend Thomas instantly noticeable with his beautiful red hair. Matthieu Leger, one of the exhibiting artists was introduced to me, as was his brother and I enjoyed joining in their conversation the jollity of which was heightened by the post-installation euphoria and pre-exhibition nerves. I also met the curator of the show, Tristram Aver, who must have been very proud of how it all turned out.


Then Samin and Paul took me to the room where her 504 circles were displayed and I almost cried with delight. They had told me that the view of them all, standing back, would be impressive but I wasn't prepared for just how stunning the wall of circles would look. But then, I walked towards them and look closely at the images woven on to each one and then suddenly felt a jolt as I recognised myself and members of my family in them and then noticed the similarity of the images of Samin's family. But that wasn't all - I think the most affecting aspect of the work, for me anyhow, was that Samin worked on each one over many months and it was seeing all of them in presentation mode that made me realise how monumental an achievement it was. I then looked at the other images on display and these were wonderful too. I liked particularly the paintings by Jake Wood-Evans which reminded me of the work of Richard Butler (of Psychedelic Furs fame) - I called Jane while I was there and she told me that she had shared a studio very briefly with Jake when we first moved to Brighton 6 years ago. Unfortunately, Jake wasn't there - otherwise, I would have collared him. Then on to Matthieu Leger's wonderfully vibrant canvasses full of colour and movement followed by the contrasting humour of the respective works of Julie Cockburn and Maisie Broadhead and the gorgeous globular mushiness of of the paintings of Antony Micalef. As you can see, I am no expert when it comes to art appreciation so I can only tell you how the exhibition affected me personally. Samin is going to have a solo show in Birmingham soon which will be amazing to see but it was interesting to see how all these different artists' works combined to create such a magnificent dynamic which is a testament to the vision of Tristram Aver's concept.


I wandered into other parts of the gallery and then out again. By then, Samin's family had arrived and she introduced me first to her mother and I recognised Samin in her warm smile and then to her tall father who I chatted to briefly and discovered that he was a chemical engineer who had no artistic background but yet who had begat an artist of extraordinary talent in Samin. 



Paul took me down to view Victoria's film of Samin's journey which featured her working in her studio, slicing and weaving, and then her visit to me in Brighton to collect my family images. The film is beautifully made and is a great document of my involvement with Samin, an unlikely collaboration in that I would never have imagined that I would work with an artist of her calibre on something so close to my heart. I could not trust just anyone with my family archive but I knew from the moment I met her that Samin would treasure these items and respect them as if they were her own. As I took off the headphones, Paul and Samin and Victoria were standing there to witness my reaction and I could see my affection for them all reflected in their smiles. Soon after I met the charming Jennie Anderson of the Argentea Gallery in Birmingham where Samin is going to present her solo show in July and we talked about Photo London, Sian Davey, Lee Miller, Man Ray, Jessa Fairbrother (whose talk we both attended earlier this year without realising we were both there mainly because we didn't know each other at the time) and Marta Kochanek who used to have a studio in the Jewellery Quarter where Jennie's gallery is located. I felt we only chatted for a few minutes so how we managed to cram all that in, I don't know.

It was time to say goodbye with kisses and handshakes and a big hug for Samin; my abiding image of her was her standing with Paul looking at what they had created - a superb document of our time.



Postscript: When I left the castle, I was knackered and so I called DG Taxis, the company which had provided the cab which took me to the castle earlier that evening. A taxi drew up and the cabbie beamed and nodded when I said "DG Taxi?" He drove me to the hotel and I got this distinct feeling that we went by a longer route and round a few more roundabouts than were necessary and so it proved when I was asked to pay £6.00 but I was too tired to argue. As I walked to the hotel entrance, I received a text from DG Taxis saying that my taxi had arrived and where was I. So, a final score of Tim 2 Nottingham Cabbies 1 - well at least it was better than the 4-0 drubbing I experienced last time

Friday, 26 May 2017

REBECCA TUN

Rebecca
This is Rebecca Tun - a professional model and a photographer. In our initial correspondence, I explained to her that my photographic project, "Over the Hill", had come to an end in 2016, although I was still keen to collaborate with photographers. I was now approaching them on a slightly different basis; instead of looking to choose one photograph from a shoot to represent the photographer in my project, I would be looking at the shoot as a whole and examining my intellectual and emotional connection with the photographer. This has been questioned by some who feel that it is merely an extension of what happened before........well, I suppose they are right but I am pleased that "Over the Hill" has officially ended and I can look at different ways to become involved in artistic collaborations and, if this means that, on some occasions, I do what I did before, so what?


 I came across Rebecca recently on Twitter but then realised that I had written to her in 2011 asking if she would be interested in photographing me but had not received a reply. Rebecca is an interesting person. She questioned me quite hard at the beginning and said that this "new" approach sounded rather heavy and that one couldn't simply "go around collecting connections" and finished off by asking me point blank - why did I want to work with her? To a certain extent, the answer lay in her questions. She is astute and no fool as she had shown on Twitter and that intrigued me. However, I countered by saying that my approach was not as frivolous as she had suggested and I felt this was borne out by what I had said about my shoots in previous blogposts and that the style and verve displayed both in her photography and her comments on Twitter were justification enough for me to have asked her to collaborate. We each apologised for our bluntness but it augured well for our shoot which took place in my room at the hotel where I stayed whilst attending a Private View in Nottingham.


I arrived at about lunchtime, showered and then went down to the lobby where I met Rebecca. She is slim and she is slight and she speaks quietly and beautifully. We shook hands politely and a little over two hours later, that had changed to a farewell hug. The shoot went well - I had come up with the brilliant idea of pyjamas and brought along one of the two pairs which I had bought in 2014 for my stay in hospital for my DBS surgery - as Rebecca pointed out, the stripes matched up nicely with the lines in the carpet and on the table. This is exemplified perfectly in the middle picture above. I love the fact that the lines of the folds in the curtains, on the table and the carpet, on my pyjamas and even those formed by my lazy fingers all career off in different directions, everything in grey apart from the turquoise chair and my skin and all upset by the angle of the shot.

 

Rebecca has said subsequently that she decided to go for a completely unplanned approach to the shoot and use whatever the hotel room had to offer. She worked quickly and decisively as we tried a number of poses and positions in the corner of the room. Then we had a break for a cup of tea. I had told her of my silly films and she asked to see some and so we watched a few on her laptop and she liked them. We talked about family, my project and her modelling during the shoot and gradually, we relaxed with each other. I had thought she seemed quite shy at first but I was wrong; I misinterpreted her quiet thoughtfulness and, of course, I had never met her before so what did I know?  


Rebecca noticed the grey wall behind the loo in the bathroom and thought it would work as a background for a formal portrait - it is not the first time I have been photographed sitting on a loo seat but it is the first time that it has worked so well. We carried on by taking a few shots in the bathroom where I was alternatively topless and wearing my jacket and then we looked at them all on her computer and I was really pleased. I felt the composition was excellent and I liked particularly the use of the two mirrors which she had brought with her. Mirrors do not always work but, in this case, they did because they showed the subject (me) and the photographer/model (her/her) - they had wit and style as Rebecca does. I love it when I challenge myself in this way with an unusual choice of photographer and it works out. I offered to model again for her - I don't know whether she will want to do another shoot but who knows?



Rebecca packed up her things, put on her pretty jacket and left to light up a fag outside and then walk home whilst I got ready for the Private View at the castle.

Smokers are always interesting.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

SAMIN AHMADZADEH - Part Two

Samin has been commissioned by the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery to produce a large installation consisting of 500 photoweaving circles which will be part of a show running there from May to September next year. “The installation will be made from a mixture of circles containing my own family archive and that of Tim Andrews,” she explains. “Tim Andrews is from the UK and currently lives in Brighton. He was interested in my work and hoped for a collaboration between us. He has given me access to his amazing records. What I really love is the fact that both archives come from around the exact same period of time, but from two different sides of the world, the West and the East. In today’s world, with countries closing their borders and people becoming more and more divided, I see this work as a presentation of how we are all the same, and live the same life, no matter which part of the world we come from.”



Samin has worked incredibly hard (ably supported by her partner, Paul) to produce these 500 circles and I can assure you that they will look fantastic when they are on display at the gallery. I am going up there to the opening (and squeezing in a shoot beforehand) and I would thoroughly recommend that you see it too.

SAMIN'S WEBSITE: http://www.samin-ahmadzadeh.com/




Tuesday, 2 May 2017

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC

Jimmy Greaves
Last night, I dreamed that I had been picked to play for Spurs. The Coach was uncertain how I would do  - not surprisingly - but I reassured him that, although I realised he had misgivings, I had somehow scored 20 goals that season. He told me to play behind the main striker and that was it! I woke up and then fell back to sleep and dreamed of telling people about it. 

I loved playing football but I was never really any good and I think that was because I had Polio when I was 7 years old. It only affected the muscle in my right thumb but I think it also upset the balance on the whole of my right side. I caught it soon after I came out of hospital having had my tonsils removed. I remember walking home through Avenue House Park with my mother and just not feeling very well. She put me to bed and, in the morning, she came into my bedroom and saw that I was drawing with my left hand and she asked me why. I lifted up my limp right hand and said "Because this one doesn't work". She called Doctor Ross who immediately diagnosed Polio and said that I had to be taken into hospital straight away which really pissed me off because I had only just come out.

I was admitted to Stanmore Hospital and put in a ward with other Polio patients including a girl who was in an iron lung who I befriended but who subsequently died although my mother didn't tell me for some years because she was worried that it would upset me. My mother came to see me and I recall her having to stand outside and talk to me through an open window. Also, Father Barker, the priest from our church, St Peter le Poer in Muswell Hill, came to see me. My brother has said that the family all thought that I was going to die which would have devastated my mother because I was very like her brother, Joe, who died of Pneumonia in 1938 at the age of 9. 

Les Allen


Anyway, back to football. I fell in love with Spurs in 1962 when they won the FA Cup against Burnley and Greaves scored the first goal. He was, and still is, my hero. Gentleman Jim. He played for Chelsea and then moved to AC Milan but was not happy in Italy and so moved to Spurs after they had won the Double but he didn't lead them to any for the success in the League although they went on to win the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963 and the FA Cup in 1967. Jimmy Greaves replaced Les Allen who eventually moved on to Queens Park Rangers but I guess he must have been quite upset to be a part of the side which won the Double only to be replaced months later.Then Greaves himself was swapped with Martin Peters of West Ham and we also had Chivers, Gilzean, England and Beal, all great players but after the manager, Bill Nicholson, retired, we had a dreadful time with players like Chris Jones and Colin Lee and Terry Neil (the ex-Arsenal player) as manager until the Hoddle/Perryman/Ardiles years. I took Jane to see Steve Perryman's Testimonial against West Ham in 1979 i which Greaves played. We watched from the Shelf and almost got beaten up by some West ham supporters who invaded the stand. Then came Waddle and Gascoigne, Ginola and Lineker.

And here we are with the current team who have beaten Arsenal 2-0 and, for the first time in 22 years have ended up above Arsenal in the league. I really do feel that we have a great team and, once Loris stops farting about in the area and Danny Rose returns and provided we don't lose players, then we could go on to win something big at last.

Or am I dreaming?

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

ITALIAN JOB with Monica Colussi

"You are only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" Well, Monica Colussi didn't have to go that far but she has produced another explosive show. This time, I had no personal involvement except that I had got to know Monica from the last exhibition.



I am not in any way knowledgeable about painting even though I am married to a painter. However, I would thoroughly recommend this exhibition because it features some great work which is so varied. Laura Zeni's collages are vigorous and good fun, Alberto Bertoldi's clouds are amazing and beautifully painted although I left thinking how tremendous they would look on larger canvasses. I loved Salvatore Alessi's figurative works which had a cinematic feel to them - he uses photographs which he then transforms and reinterprets in a blaze of colour and light. 

(c) Laura Zeni

But the star of the show for me was Nicola Pucci - his set of cockerels on aluminium are beautifully painted and his "Flying Lesson" is exquisite. They are full of life and full of humour too. I was very moved by his work.

Flying Lesson II by Nicola Pucci

So, go on - do yourself a favour and get down to see this fantastic show. The address is 105, Wigmore Street but the entrance (through the Fiat Chrysler Motor Village) is on Orchard Street on the left hand side of Selfridges.

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/