Saturday, 27 June 2015

Nude and naked: David Bailey's photos

(When I began this blog I intended to display my art nude work, hence the 'adult content' warning. I then moved on to other modelling work . However, this post has nude images,  so stop here if nudity offends you).

Liz Lea
Still  in my decluttering mode,  I came across a sealed box, with thick tape running all around it. I was intrigued, what on earth was in there?  I could not remember. I got a pair of scissors and began to remove the tape. I have to make a confession here: in the past whenever I did not know what to do with particular paperwork I would 'bury' it, carefully putting the papers in a box and sealing it and then placing the box on some shelf, to be opened again some years later. Bizarre, I know.
This box had tons of very uninteresting stuff: meeting agendas, reports, old lecture notes, some offprints, copies of unsuccessful fellowship applications - I still remember the hurt of not getting the grants I had applied for and how I would keep the forms and the feedback so that I could study them and do better at the next round.  All absolutely irrelevant now.
But among the trash I found some interesting things: a programme brochure of a performance by the beautiful Liz Lea, an Australian dancer and choreographer who used to live in London and whom I knew quite well. Only a few days ago her name came up with an acquaintance, how weird! Liz Lea's brochure had a most beautiful photograph of her dancing in the nude, only the figures are so small you can hardly see anything! A celebration of the dancing body, the picture is also on the website of Liz Lea's dance company in Canberra.  The brochure I have found is dated 2005.
I also found a copy of The Guardian Weekend magazine of 17.09.05 with a preview of David Bailey's photos of naked people, including his stunning  model wife Catherine, who graces the cover in a 'raw' nude, yoga inspired pose (she is a yoga devotee)  - shadows under her eyes, her armpits unshaven.  She must have been pushing forty when the picture was taken and she is absolutely ravishing.
I don't want to get into a copyright wrangle by using Bailey's photos without permission , so you can see below an image of the Guardian of 17.09.05 and a link to David Bailey's photos of the naked is given  here. Do look, they are great images and you will recognise among the people photographed several actors and even Damien Hirst.

The press release emphasises that no digital manipulation was applied to any of the photographs.
Seeing these pictures reminded me of my art nude modelling. I was very active as an art nude model  around 2008 and 2009, then I sort of slowed down, but my deviantArt gallery carries all my art nude pictures.
I think I posted about the difference between nudity and nakedness before, so I will not repeat myself. I am just glad to find out that the criterion applied by David Bailey matches my understanding of art nude and art nakedness: art nude is somewhat contrived, art nakedness is raw with minimal or no retouching.
Some of the most beautiful pictures taken of me were those by Neil Huxtable aka Talkingdrum. He shot nudes but his art nudes were closer to the naked, on a scale of one to ten, with nude as ten and naked as one (no value judgment here, just a way of quantifying the difference between contrived and less contrived, following Bailey's definition) - I remember how Talkingdrum hated make up and 'poses'.

Photographer: Neil Huxtable Model: me

I am very proud that my agency Grey Model Agency has included on my page pictures of me in the nude (implied). This is a very forward move, as most model agencies are somewhat prudish about nudes, at least they used to be a few years ago.
I recently did a shoot with Isabella Bambagioni for Danielle Fowler's project at LCF. I was modelling lingerie but Isabella did not retouch any of the images. She later asked me to pose nude for her - it will happen in August.

Photographer: Isabella Bambagioni

I also have a shoot with Justyna Neryng next week and am really looking forward to it. It's been a while since I did art nude and this is a great opportunity, working with two different female photographers, which I really enjoy doing.
I have no hang ups about my body. I know I am an older woman but I do not feel I have to hide anything. I am so grateful that I still have a body that works and serves me well. Is it beautiful? Bodies ARE beautiful machines, complex and truly marvellous. End of.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Domestic goddess

Image reblogged form Get Organised Wizard

I am not a domestic goddess, let me clarify it at once. I score extremely low on the cooking side, despite my Italian background (one of the most difficult questions for me to answer, whenever I visit my relatives in Italy,  is 'what do you cook?' - not 'what do you eat', please note the difference).
But it seems I also score badly on the domestic cleansing department, as a recent, very tactless, visitor remarked. I was really stung by his words, I am a super clean person, I shower twice a day and constantly have my washing machine on. But dusting and wiping? No, I do not do much of that, I have to admit it. Nor will I have a cleaner. No one but me can touch my stuff.
Well, no more dirt. I have gone into a cleaning and decluttering mode in full gear. I took a good look at my home and realised that the kitchen was my number one priority as well as the bathroom. I declared war on  the mould that gathers on sealants and decided to scrub the back of my cooker and the sides of the cupboards. I  began daily trips to my local hardware store to stock up on heavy duty HG cleaners and rubber gloves. I had very interesting conversations with the shop owner, for example, I asked for a good duster and he told me it was a waste of money, it's more hygienic to vacuum. Please note that the guy sells dusters!
I must have breathed fumes  because for the whole of last week I coughed and spat (into the loo) whilst I sprayed the unsightly mould, at least a dozen times, all my windows open  - and it has finally gone, with a lot of elbow grease, even though HG claims that the mould goes effortlessly.

I even set my alarm clock for six everyday to begin cleaning in earnest, taking suitable breaks to sleek - more about sleeking in another post , but let it be noted that I am a devotee.
Then I began clearing cupboards, officially shifting into decluttering mode. Over the past week I must have filled dozens of heavy duty bin bags, making regular trips to my local recycling centre (and Marie Curie shop for clothes)  - I had a lot of  broken small household electrical equipment, I just could not believe it, basically one cupboard was full of broken stuff and I do not know why I kept it! But it is not over , oh no. There are three filing cabinets to clear, several book shelves (I will not part with books, but there are things I can chuck into the bin , like magazines and old conference papers, I mean, whoever reads them after the conference is over? I have things from the 1990s) and my video collection.
Yes, I still have videos, even though I forked out nearly a hundred quid for a video capture programme - the problem is, when will I ever have the time to go through the recordings  and actually capture the stuff? I have to choose the ones I really want to keep and transfer  and chuck the rest out.
I have just got rid of my entire audiocassette collection - I do not even have a machine to play the darned things on, not anymore! So why keep them?

Alex B. Photo: C. Barrey
People say that decluttering is very liberating.  Don't know about that yet but it is definitely educational. Whilst cleaning and decluttering I have listened to audiobooks and entire operas - I have truly enjoyed  Carmen by Bizet , several versions, with Callas' rendition still my favourite.  As I was scrubbing my kitchen floor I discovered the glorious music of Cilea, through his Adriana Lecouvreur. I enjoyed the latter so much, I will be getting a DVD of the Royal Opera House production  in 2010 just to see it in its full glory.
I am now taking a couple of days break from decluttering but I aim to start again by Friday. My last task will be professional carpet cleaning - by mid July. Someone will do it for me!
Somehow I feel that  decluttering  gives you tremendous energy and joie de vivre and I am curious to see how this release of energy is going to affect other areas of my life, if at all . And if the alleged emotional and spiritual benefits of decluttering are a mere trick concocted to get people to clean more,  I have to admit that  my living environment and my person cannot but benefit from this scrubbing. That will be enough of an achievement.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Grey Power

Model : me. Stylist :Danielle Fowler. MUA:Francesca Thornton. Photographer: Isabella Bambagioni

On my way to a modelling gig for Samson Keller, a designer who is graduating from London College of Fashion, whose work was being shown as part of the annual show in Shoreditch last night, as I entered the tube station, I found that oyster cards and tickets were being checked. I got my oyster out and the nice young man who was scanning them asked me if I had a freedom pass. Not yet, I replied truthfully (I wish I did, it would save me so much on transportation costs which in London are prohibitive compared to other European cities! unfortunately I do not yet qualify for it age wise). He was most apologetic, it was my grey braid that had apparently confused him (I have now started braiding my hair to keep it out of the way). I told him I was not in the least offended.  Why should I?
Later at the venue, as I was getting ready to model for Samson, my hair all down, wearing a black silk- like cloth, red lipstick and red nails and lying inside a cage, while four other models would walk around me, I could not help thinking back of the oyster card incident. To the young man at the station I was a frail old lady, to the young crowd at the Nicholls and Clarke Building I was an older model helping the designer to make a fashion statement. 
(As it happens I was featured, as a model, in the work of several graduating LCF students this year, from Danielle Fowler's editorial with me modelling lingerie, with totally unretouched photos, to Kirstie Forbes' Project Silver). 

Model : me. Sylist :Danielle Fowler. MUA:Francesca Thornton. Photographer: Isabella Bambagioni

Being 'grey' is acquiring a completely different meaning. On one hand there is the stereotypical view of older people as being past everything, something that is often reiterated in advertising, with commercial models mostly being there to play variations on Zimmer frame pushing grandmas or grandpas. On the other, there are newer perceptions of age and ageing, and older people are becoming more visible in fashion, where older models have begun to be featured, representing glamorous and elegant older women and men, beyond the tokenism of editorials which show how clothing can be 'adapted' to suit your age - whenever I come across articles written by well meaning stylists on how to wear this or that when you are over fifty or sixty I honestly feel like screaming. If anything, after all these years I have learnt a thing or two about what suits me and how to wear it and I do not  need stylists to tell me that "after fifty you should hide your upper arms". Should I?  
A new model agency, Grey Model Agency, by which I am delighted to be represented, has just launched precisely to fill this huge gap in the market and to supply older male and female models who counter stereotypical notions of ageing - of being grey. 
Headed by Sara Stockbridge, known for being Vivienne Westwood's muse, and owned by Rebecca Valentine, who has represented  masters of photography, Grey Model Agency is unique in that it represents the diversity of ageing, through its models or 'ambassadors',  rather than having stereotypical 'classic' models:  Grey Model Agency's ambassadors are "beautifully ageing, elegantly eccentric 35+ models."  

In the agency's press release, Rebecca Valentine says the following:
"The decision to call the agency Grey was not without a touch of irony as our models are anything but! ...I want to change the perception of what it is to be Grey, or older, by confronting the prejudice head-on...I want to lead this agency from a client’s perspective and, with our own in-house campaigns, help position our models with brands traditionally targeting the young like Playstation, Nike, Lynx, Evian and even Audi!" reminding us that those who buy these products are over forty.

We are definitely ready for this change.

Grey Model Agency 
07968 190 411