Tuesday, 10 October 2017

NHUNG DANG - Just the way you are

Flamboyant



























It was a dull day, so far as the weather was concerned, and yet Nhung lit up my life in this marvellous picture. The light floods in through the sash window and daubs white not only on me but on the objects which define me - the gramophone player to my right, sitting on top of the cupboard we bought years ago and which we have filled with photographs and video tapes of family. The surface of the wood underneath the sound system has been scratched and gouged by the feet of the old TV that sat there at our beloved Ravenswood but, no matter, they tell a story.

"You may not believe this" I replied, "but it is the cigarette burns and stains I am really buying. They are so incredibly far out"

The records to my left, the books, the sheet music and the scrapbooks and the chair on which I sit all evoke so many memories. So many. Nhung has her own story which she tells me as I sit there and try to think of an answer to the question - how does that jacket make you feel? "Flamboyant" I reply. It does. I am not big on clothes and I have little dress sense but the guy in the shop saw me coming and even though I asked to try on something completely different, he swerved and he swayed and I ended up walking out of the shop holding something I wasn't sure that I would ever have the nerve to wear. In fact, after that day, whenever I walked past the shop wearing another coat, I felt the salesman's eyes on me and him mouthing"what the f...." But buy it I did and wear it I have done and, when I do, I feel flamboyant.
Casual

























No. It is not bird shit on my black jeans but paint. Household paint. "Casual and Fat" should be the caption here but I cannot complain. Nhung photographed me as she found me. The sheep on top of the column to my left knows nothing. I wonder if sheep have any understanding of 'casual'? I love this garden - it is tiny but manageable which is more than can be said of my stomach but, forget all that and look at the photograph. Everything around me is crisp and black and white. I am not thinking of how I shall look in the picture -  I am thinking "casual". After this shot was taken, Nhung asked me if I wanted to try a different pose so I turned about 45 degrees to my left and stood the same way.

Relaxed
























After the effort of standing in two different poses in my garden, I had to rest. I get so tired sometimes but I find it difficult to nap in my bed and I have found that lying on the floor of the dining area off the kitchen is much more restful and, if you need any convincing of that, I can tell you that I nodded off while Nhung took these shots and woke up with a wonderful rush of refreshment when the shutter clicked. 

"Please don't wake me, 
No, don't shake me, 
Leave me where I am, 
I'm only sleeping"

Shy
I don't remember. I don't remember saying that I felt shy when this was taken but certainly my body language betrays that feeling. This was taken in our basement where there is a lovely gentle light. I have filmed a lot down there. I asked Nhung, "Do you want me to move the table?" She said "No". Everything looks perfect in this shot - the flowers, the edge of the tablecloth, my hand on my leg, Jane's painting of "Girl", the whiteness of my shirt and the little brass bolts on the shutters. 

"Is that not how good stories run?"

Formal
Formal? Smart? Or sad that the day is drawing to a close? I have absolutely no idea where this expression came from and yet it is sodden with love and gratitude and compassion. People often ask how I feel when I see so many pictures of myself. I find that, usually, I look at them objectively - that the person I see is often someone else but here, in this picture, I see my heart and my soul. I see the boy at school, the man who fell in love. I see the other side. I am astonished by this photograph. I wonder if  I am mistaken but no, it is all there. And Nhung found it and pressed the shutter at just the right moment.  

"This time, at last, it is the real, the unmistakable thing, simple - passionate- perfect-"

Sunday, 1 October 2017

NHUNG DANG - A Gentle Woman

Yesterday, I spent about five hours being photographed by Nhung Dang and it was an absolute pleasure. Nhung had visited me in Brighton in January of this year to chat about the proposed shoot and we got on really well and agreed to go ahead in the Spring but one or two problems arose and so it wasn't until yesterday that we went ahead finally. And it was fun!

I had come across Nhung's work in December 2014 and thought it was astonishing and I was taken particularly by the statement on her website that narratives in her work were often influenced by her own personal feelings of melancholy and yearning. She left Vietnam as a refugee with her parents and brother when very young but she has since achieved success as a photographic artist and has recently completed a course in Psychotherapeutic Counselling.

Our shoot was all on film although her Hasselblad jammed but she carried on with her 35 mm SLR as well as a delightful little pinhole camera - I couldn't remember ever being photographed with a pinhole camera before. Unfortunately, the light was not good enough to produce a decent image on the pinhole shots apart from those in the garden which are interesting.

  

Nhung likes to tell stories in her work and so she took me to various parts of our house and garden and questioned me very gently about how I felt there, wearing the clothes I wore - I changed clothes three times during the shoot. We started in the garden first where I wore my paint-splattered jeans and a  white vest and then moved into the kitchen where I lay down on the floor as I do sometimes to sleep and I slept only to be woken by the click of the shutter. I had bought a coat, a rather flamboyant coat for me, when I last saw Nhung and told her that I needed a bit of courage to wear it and so she suggested that I put it on for the shots in our sitting room - she asked how I felt wearing this coat and all I could think was... flamboyant. She then asked me to close my eyes and breathe in and out and she repeated her question and as, I sat there I felt brave and ready and, after a while, she asked me to look at her and I felt my eyes blaze with daring and derring-do as I opened them and stared down the lens. We ended the shoot in my suit (not both of us, just me) in my study (both of us) for a more formal set of photographs. 

In the middle somewhere, we had a break for lunch and I made scrambled egg on toast and we talked about families and friends and, as for the latter, I felt that I had found a new friend and this was confirmed when Nhung asked for a hug as we said goodbye at the front door.

A very interesting day with a very interesting artist - I am expecting some very interesting results.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

JEAN EDWARDS


This is not a photograph of Jean Edwards, - it is yet another delicious photograph posted on Twitter by Daniel Brami - but it reminds me of a time when my mother (who was a dancer) took me, when I was little, to the flat in Holland Park where Jean, also a dancer, lived with Alf Edwards, the then celebrated accordionist.

At some point, in the kitchen, Jean lifted her leg like the woman in this photograph and I was amazed.

That's it - just wanted to tell you this. Oh maybe one more thing - here is a picture of my mum by Roye.


C'est beau n'est-ce pas?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

ONE FROM THE HEART - Rob Hudson

Hi Rob,

Whilst we are on the subject of Francis Ford Coppola, I would like to mention "One from the Heart" (1981), a gorgeous film made in his Zoetrope studio, awash with colour and light, sensuality and beautiful songs sung by Crystal Gayle and Tom Waits, a mixture of the rough and the smooth. Well, amazingly, you have created in Black and White, the same mix - pictures both blanc and noir and yet they literally drip with colour. The camera is like a pen, full of light and shade and vitality, a poet's pen lyrical and loving, fun and furious. It is impossible to choose a favourite of all the pictures you sent but I think the one which moves me most is the one where I am kneeling and have my hands raised to the sky with a brush of silver light on my body. You asked me to sit but I could only kneel, which was my contribution to the shot but to be in it makes me exceptionally proud.

Amen.  

GODFATHER II


Dear Mr Hudson,
Thank you indeed for the photographic images what you have so kindly dispatched to me "online" - I believe that is the correct expression - they are bewitching, bothering and bewildering - bewitching because when I done set my eyes on them for the very first time like, well, I felt as if I had been led into some sort of magical world outside my own pitiful existence, a world so crazily beautiful that it verily transported my brain and all my senses pertaining thereto into a frenzy, yes a frenzy of joyous joy so bloody amazing that I almost forgot who I was, where I was and what I was doing. Bothering because I felt that I cared so much when I clapped my mince pies on them and it wasn't even Christmas but it felt like Christmas. And bewildering because I have no idea how you done it.



You is a prince straight up - not a king but a prince. A king has reached a zenith and can sit back on his throne and relax, feeling he has made it but a prince is a dashing example of someone what is still desperate to learn and achieve and experiment.



I takes my hat off to you sir, truly I do - what you have done, no man could do unless he has the golden touch, the ability to make precious silver out of leaves and bark and mud and twigs - you is a wizard and no mistake. And thank you kindly for not showing any pictures of black slugs a-crawling up my bum - that would have taken the gloss off the how's your father.



I shall close now and pour myself a glass of my favourite tawny sherry and lean back and gaze on the work of a hamster, I mean a master of his art for that is what it is - art in its most perfect form.



Yours sincerely,

Your humble servant,

Mr Timothy Andrews

PS




Tuesday, 19 September 2017

ROB HUDSON - An Appreciation

I was always jealous of trees by Rob Hudson (2013)



Rob Hudson, to me, is the Godfather of Landscape photographers. In fact, he is not unlike Marlon Brando in the film of the Godfather. He is tall and broad, his hair is streaked with grey, he has presence, he commands. There are differences too - he doesn't speak with tissue stuck in his cheeks nor, as far as I am aware, has he ever cut the head off a racehorse. But he agreed to photograph me again - an offer I couldn't refuse.

His work is poetic, political and full of daring imagination. He loves the land and nature and this love is made clear in the beautiful, mystical portraits he paints with his camera of the trees he walks around, through and under. 

On Tuesday 19th September, we met, as before, at Llandaff Station just outside the centre of Cardiff and there was that glorious moment of heightened anticipation as I opened the door of his car and climbed in and shook his large and gentle hand and returned the warmest of smiles. We had not met since the exhibition of work by the "Inside the Outside" collective at Nottingham a couple of years ago but the chatter, and the silences, were easy as we drove into the open countryside on the way to Blackmill Wood where we had shot before in 2013. We parked and with the promise of a Welsh tea cake and coffee on our return, we set off into this magical place. We walked through the the tunnel and up to the stile, on the other side of which were a curious collection of what seemed to be film props including a ship's wheel, a couple of iron cages, an empty cardboard flower box. Rob thought "Doctor Who" as we went back in time and stepped over the narrow stream that gurgled its welcome as we began to climb the steep hill. 

Rob had certain shots in mind but, as he said, inevitably, he would see other spots of light and foliage that would suggest a suitable place for me to lie, sit or stand. I was wary of taking home ticks attached to me as I had done following the shoot with Rob's colleague, Joe Wright, and that made me less relaxed than I wanted to be. I posed unclothed in most of them and, after a while, didn't bother to get dressed and wandered in my underpants but the woods were deserted apart from us, the ticks (if any) and the hordes of black slugs keeping their heads down as an unidentified bird of prey circled overhead. I wondered if it might dive down and attack my electrodes but it would have had a job to penetrate the dense knitted canopy of branches in this peculiar setting. Being naked in the open September air felt wonderful although after every pose, I brushed anything that felt like it could be a tick from all parts of my body. At one point, Rob asked me to lie back and think "calm" and in that moment I was, hopelessly so. Eventually, he declared the shoot was over and we re-crossed the stream and re-climbed the stile and, as we looked again at the Doctor Who props, Rob asked if I had ever been photographed in an iron cage before and I thought back to the shoot with Vanessa Mills - so many photographers, so many beautiful experiences.

Rob opened the packet of Welsh tea cakes and the coffee and they went down very well - somehow a cup of tea or coffee always tastes better when you feel you have earned it. He drove us expertly back to Llandaff Station and we said goodbye, until the next time and there will be a next time because we have bonded - we are chums. Not the normal sort of chums, more comrades in arms I suppose, in the fight against all those who would want to destroy this incredible world we inhabit and in which Rob discovers new meanings, shapes, light, shade and shadows and presents them to us in a gorgeous splurge which causes us to catch our breath and ask why, how, what, where but not who.

Knowing the truth of things unseen before;
Of Daphne and the laurel bow
And that god-feasting couple old
that grew elm-oak amid the wold.
'Twas not until the gods had been
Kindly entreated, and been brought within
Unto the hearth of their heart's home
That they might do this wonder thing;
Nathless I have been a tree amid the wood
And many a new thing understood
That was rank folly to my head before. 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

My sister



My sister, Janet, was born on this day in 1945. She died on 12th October 1996. On 2nd September 1974, she gave birth to her first child, Olivia. I drove her to the hospital that night in her Morris Minor with my mother in the back and I deliberately went through a red light just to add to the excitement. My mother and I weren't allowed to stay for some reason so I think that she was alone (apart from the hospital staff) when she gave birth. But what a birthday present. Olivia was a beautiful child and I used to have such fun being her uncle. 

Me (with moustache) and Olivia (in green) with Gerald, Sadie and Charlotte
Janet, Anthony, Me, Sally & Corinne

So, Happy Birthday, Janet and Happy Birthday, Olivia.

Film: "Sister" - https://vimeo.com/34760496