Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Sanctuary

No,  I am not talking about the Spa in Covent Garden, even though I really love it and use the products when I can. Last October I was in THE SANCTUARY, an installation/performance by John Casey and at last I got the video link on Youtube. It was fun to do it - you may remember how worried I was about portraying a cult leader. Let me know what you think.

About the bloggers competition: I came second. Yvonne won. Congratulations Yvonne. And of course congratulations Arna and Courtney for being in the competition. We blog in a different way, but there you are, beauty in diversity.
I am quite busy at the moment with Models of Diversity and their fashion show featuring Mature Models only at the Ideal Home Exhibition in March. I have been contacted by my local paper for a feature and I spent half an hour today talking about diversity, inclusion and sustainability.
I am also going to be featured in Woman - I did my first fashion photoshoot for Woman, the one that started it all and now I am back in it.
But it is Models of Diversity that really should be focused on, I love the work they have been doing about changing perceptions of beauty and promoting disabled models. It mirrors the work that has been going on in dance with able bodied/disabled performers. Think of CanDoco  and their pioneering work - this is what hooks me to dance.
Talking of dance, I would like to bring to your attention the magnificent ballet by Angelin Preljocaj, Blanche-Neige (Snow White).  For now enjoy watching some excerpts, I will be discussing the ballet in another post.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Last day

Today is the last day of the competition.

 Photographer: me

I will post more extensively later but please if you like reading my blog, vote for me.

Friday, 25 January 2013

When fashion meets science...

Photographer: David Gibson
Or more precisely, when fashion meets biology and chemistry, you get the amazing work of Helen Storey, Professor Helen Storey.
I have recently discovered Helen's work and I am totally mesmerised. In a nutshell, Helen has taken fashion design to new heights, working with scientists, including her own sister Kate, a biologist. She began her own fashion label in the 1980s and was recipient of the Most Innovative Designer award soon after. Then when her business folded she began a project with Kate, funded by the Wellcome, Primitive Streak, which shows the 10 key events in a human embryonic development.
And then there were more projects, including Catalytic Clothing, a collaboration with another scientist, Tony Ryan, Professor of Chemistry at Sheffield University, resulting in clothes which can "clean the air we breathe".
I was aware of the creativity involved in designing clothes. But after seeing Helen's work the belief that  that creativity knows no bounds has turned into a certainty. I am also inspired by her commitment to improving the quality of life of communities. Sustainability of fashion or eco-fashion seems to be the underlying message.

As a model, I have been involved in ethical fashion shows eg People Tree, who champion fair trade and sustainable fashion. Fashion is to do with who we are, our clothes tell much about how we position ourselves in the world. We consume fashion. As consumers it is important that we are aware of the set of relationships involved in the act of consuming and yes, as a consumer, I do embrace fair trade.

Fashion is not "a light weight subject"says Francis Corner, Head of the London College of Fashion, highlighting the need "to clearly make the case and set the pace for developing areas of research that extend fashion’s influence ".
Helen is Research Professor at the London College of Fashion. I have had the opportunity to model for several students at the College, both undergraduate and postgraduate students, either involved in designing clothes or training as fashion photographers. I have always enjoyed being with them and having a chance to engage in discussion, I love their very informed approach, their creativity and their awareness.

Photographer: Vijay Jethwa
The larger issue of wellbeing, sustainability and connecting communities seem to be priorities in their training as creative individuals, working in one of the major creative industries.
There is so much more to say and explore. For now I will conclude with the words of Peter Madden, Chair of the Forum for the Future:
"The global fashion industry generates a trillion dollars a year. What we wear –- and how it’s made and sold –- can have a huge positive impact on our society and environment".

Again please dont forget to vote. It will end on Jan 31st
(All photos in this post modelled by Alex B)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A bigger splash

There are many exhibitions to choose from if you live in a big city and one of the main attractions of London is the richness and diversity of its art scene.
I am a great fan of the Tate Modern. I love the building to begin with, I love the location, overlooking the river Thames on the Southwark side and I love the curatorial choices, they rarely disappoint. I am intrigued by curation, generally, and the Tate curators are able to put together thought provoking shows.
I finally went to see A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance and it was as good as it promised to be. I was originally sceptical as one of the names mentioned was that of Jackson Pollock and in all honesty I am not a great fan of Pollock and American Expressionism: the misogyny of these men, their alcohol addiction, their attitudes and,  generally, their work, does not endear them to me. But, my own prejudices aside, it was people like Pollock that really began to pay attention to art making as a process and the shift from the canvas to the body as canvas was initiated by them.
The exhibition is packed with works by artists and performance makers, including my favourite, Cindy Sherman about whom I posted earlier.
The first part of the exhibition surveys (all my quotes are from the catalogue) "the agitated relationship between performance and painting internationally from the 1950s to the 1980s". The second part has different rooms featuring the work of just one artist, chosen "as a way of considering the impact of experiments in performance, theatricality and masquerades on expanded approaches to painting from the late 70s to the present day".

This is not an exhibition that will please people who have set ideas of Art and Beauty - note the capital letter. The whole point of the exhibition is to ask questions and unsettle those ideas. The exhibition will at times shock, at times disgust, at times intrigue you, at times move you beyond words. I loved room 9 with Karen Kilimnik's exploration of femininity through a nostalgic and obsessive engagement with opera and ballet. Her installation Swan Lake induced a reverie and a reconnection to my own childhood's love of fairy tales. I also loved A bigger splash, David Hockney's painting that gives its name to the exhibition. Again, it had a special resonance with me, as I love splashing about in water: before going to the Tate I went to my local swimming pool and was mesmerised by the quality of light pouring in through the sky light, I felt quite transported. Of course the point of the painting is that "the burst of water in the pool resembles a spontaneous splatter of painting", hence the juxtaposition with Jackson Pollock: Pollock and Hockney open the exhibition, in room 1, aptly named "an arena in which to act".

A good catalogue, for once not outrageously expensive, accompanies the exhibition, with a very thoughtful introduction by Catherine Wood.
Oh I took pictures finally, I walked around with my Nikon and took images of snowy London and some of the Tate. I even managed to take a picture of one of the art works, until the warden stopped me - I genuinely did not know it was not allowed.

As usual I am asking you to vote for this blog, the competition goes on until 31st January.Thank you everyone for voting and remembering to do so daily, I really appreciate the effort. There is stiff competition and honestly, I love the other blogs too. Oh why cant we all be winners?

(All photos in this post are taken by me. The last image is a self portrait and was taken with a Bronica)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow and a home cooked dish

Photographer: me
So the spate of bad weather that had been forecast is here. It snowed for hours today and as usual everything came to a standstill, London cannot cope with snow. I have been itching to take my camera out and have my very first pictures of London covered in snow. I know, I know, it has been done countless times before but I am relatively new to photography, remember? The whole point is to be able to 'see' something in a novel way. I find that street photography suits me better than model photography. Maybe I just need to get more practice with models but for now I am happy with taking pictures of buildings and people in the street. Which brings me to something that I really need to spell out. From time to time I get offers from models, especially male models who are involved in life modelling and want to pose for me. I would be most grateful if you did not contact me with such requests. I know who I want to photograph, how and why. I don't do models portfolios.

I have not done much modelling myself, lately, apart from another Guardian All Ages shoot last week, on a day when I was still affected by the horrendous noro flu. It was only me and another mature model, from a different agency, the young ones were going to be photographed on a different day. I have not seen the pictures yet, but they will be good, I have no doubt they will, the ones taken before Christmas were absolutely fabulous.

Photographer David Newby for The Guardian, models: myself and Magdalena
I love the place where we do these shoots, it's a converted warehouse known as The Old Shoe Factory, in Hackney. Luke, the owner, also a photographer, has turned it into a place with lots of character and it is very cozy there, with an old stove and a collection of period objects.

Photographer: Luke Smith
The lunches are amazing, wholesome vegetarian, mediterranean, mouthwatering food. Last Friday, I had four outfits to wear and shot non-stop. For fashion shoots one cannot eat while wearing outfits and there is always the problem of make up coming off - the MUA spends ages doing your mouth and then you go and eat! it will not make you very popular, that's for sure. By early afternoon I was starving and nothing was more welcome than the delicious lunch cooked for us. It made me decide that this year I am going to make a real effort and become a very good cook. I have already started: I have an old recipe book given to me by my mother some twenty-five years ago and I have fished it out, reminding myself of fabulous home cooking from Southern Italy. As I am writing this post, I am cooking a simple dish of rice, potatoes and mussels. I got the mussels from my local fishmonger, they looked just right and taste absolutely delicious.

It's an oven cooked dish: you layer the bowl with a dash of olive oil, potatoes,  rice and mussels, salt and pepper to taste, a few herbs and the water in which you cook the mussels to open them, with a touch of garlic. You let it cook slowly in the oven, at least an hour and hey presto, your dish is ready. Serve with red wine, it goes very well with it.

Dont forget to vote for this blog, the competition goes on until 31st January. I seem to be stuck in second place.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Third year blogging and book crossing

Photographer: me
As most of you know I recently entered the Blogger of the Year competition and voting is in full swing. Please do remember to vote for me if you like my blog, voting will close on 31st Jan and the winner will be featured in the February 2013 issue of StarCentral Magazine.
I was away in Italy, in Turin,  when this happened. I answered an ad on Starnow and decided to enter my blog in the voting competition. I was pretty sure it would not be accepted, imagine my surprise when I got the email about my blog having made the voting list.
There were some glitches with the url and the photo of me that had been chosen was not to my liking, as it was way too old, but everything is under control now and yes, I seem to be in second place.
This voting competition comes at the right time: I am now entering my third year blogging and I confess  I was about to wrap it it all up. It is not always easy to keep blogging, there is an offline life that clamours for my attention. But I have to say that I have greatly enjoyed blogging and I will definitely keep it up, now that I have had the honour of being included in this competition. 
Through blogging I have made friends and have also had an opportunity to explore issues and topics that were dear to my heart.
I blog as a model and my posts give me an opportunity to showcase my modelling work and also some of my own photography. But blogging to me is more than an act of PR. It's an opportunity to think aloud and share those thoughts with others. It's an opportunity to make friends. I know I am not always very good at replying to comments, I wish there were more hours in the day for me to be able to be online a little more. 
Therefore I will continue this endeavour. 

Photographer: me

Apart from asking you again to help me and vote for me, today's post is to signal a book I have recently read which I have greatly enjoyed. It's a book I came by through book crossing, the practice of leaving a book you've read in a public place for someone else to pick up. I found it near the local church and out of curiosity I took it and almost immediately got hooked. The book is The Unseen by Katherine Webb, a story set in contemporary times and in the early 1900s, a tale of love, deception and murder. I would not give it five stars, mind you, there were parts of it which did not work too well but overall it was most absorbing.
I have most enjoyed the fact that someone left it there to be picked up, so much so that it has inspired me to join the book crossing movement. I have just entered The Unseen, I am curious to know where it will go next!
Happy reading everyone and happy book crossing!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Please vote for me

Apologies to all my readers. I was away on holiday and then became ill with the noro virus, not pleasant at all, I can assure you.
Meanwhile I entered this blog in the BLOGGER OF THE YEAR competition. I was not sure first that it would be accepted but yes, it has and voting is now in full swing, so please, if you like this blog do vote for me! Just click on this link and leave your vote.
Oh, for some reason, among the hundreds photos of me that could have been selected they have chosen an old picture from 2005 but never mind.

I will be writing more fully later today, I am off to a life modelling workshop now but please, if you like this blog go over to the voting page and vote.

Thank you!

Photographer: David Newby for The Guardian, model: myself