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Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Well, as expected, Wife’s Private View was phenomenal – her work stood head and shoulders above that of the others who were exhibiting in the same gallery (although it is fair to say that “Fat Film” – a series of photographs wherein the iconic stars of modern masterpieces, in their most famous poses are replaced by fat, unattractive amateurs is something  that I think I shall never forget…). A number of people have asked for prints of the work (especially a series that she did, called “Variations on Hopper and Hitchcock”, which are really haunting, poignant pictures). It’s running for another month, but lots of our friends were there for the opening, which was nice. When the event closed, we stood outside in the car park (because we are classy) and drank sparkling wine out of plastic cups (see above), and then there was a move to go out for a meal.

I demurred and left at about 10.30pm to get home and relieve Hilarious Babysitter. I’d been up early at the gym, was planning to go the next morning, and had the vain desire not to turn up with vomit on my chin. 

And on that note: Wife returned at 2am, having spent a couple of hours drinking more, first in Fulham, then in Chiswick’s High Road House, managing to throw up over the loo in our bathroom and to sleep in her clothes. I daresay the enormous relief of her course being at an end – and of the exhibition going so well – is partially to blame, but more to the point was the fact that one of the people that she was out with was her Drinking Nemesis, who always spells disaster for Wife (and a morning after marked by wailing and complaining) – but hell: if you’ve worked as hard as she has, and achieved such results, I think it would be pretty poor form NOT to drink yourself into a near coma when it’s all over…

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The first time I remember uttering that phrase was (appropriately enough) on stage.

I was in a production of Julian Mitchell’s play “Another Country”, a fictionalised account of the schooldays of the spy, Guy Burgess. In a scene that is pivotal to the play (and mysteriously left out of the execrable film), the schoolboys are visited by a Harold Nicholson-esque aesthete (and screaming queen): Vaughan Cunningham, played in our production by an incredibly gifted actor, (who rejoices in the name Bryan Robson) whose comparative absence from the stage is as shameful a slur on it as the presence of Ray Quinn (late of X Factor) is. In the one scene we shared, the Burgess-esque character “Bennett” wants to leave the illustrious visitor in no doubt that he is absolutely a passenger on the same bus, and is prepared to do rather more than stamp a couple of tickets should the opportunity arise. To this end, in reply to some very innocent comment about the dangers of making an exhibition of oneself (this IS an English Public School, after all), Bennett replies airily but with steely purpose: “I don’t mind making an exhibition of myself” – thus presumably giving the nod to any number of early evening soirees where he might be called upon to adopt Classical poses in the over-heated library of an over-heated interior decorator…

All of which is very much by the by in recording that Wife is about to make an exhibition of herself – or rather of her work. There have been midnight flits to IKEA to purchase the frames, visits to the picture framer to cut the mounts, and any number of hours spent in darkrooms (digital and otherwise) to prepare for the big event, which falls on Thursday.

It goes without saying that I am unbelievably biased in my analysis of my wife’s genius: but I truly do believe that her work would stand comparison with anything in any gallery in the world. There are three sequences that I am particularly enamoured of, very different in their subject and execution (including one for which she has invented a new printing process for), but all of which illustrate her recurring themes of imagination, illusion and solitude.

So: the private view is on Thursday, and no doubt I shall be cluttering up the virtual world with a debrief of (what I know will be) that triumph. But until then, I am enjoying my very private view of Wife’s private view.

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The Circus

Fresh (if that is the word) from “Madame de Sade”, I went (this time en famille) to another theatrical venue: the circus.

I used to love the circus when I was little – back in those days when (certainly my own) moral concerns over the ethics of performing animals were a little less convoluted than they are today. Lions, tigers (no bears – “Oh my!”) and any number of acrobats was my idea of a perfect treat.

And so it was (with a slightly different cast) that my family reacted – including Wife, whom I have established (at length) is no lover of the dramatic experience. She was there, in part for a photographic assignment, and has created a magnificent hommage to Sarah Moon – but we were all there, chiefly, for the children.

Youngest Son was quick to show his contempt for the low-brow clowning: it was all a bit beneath him – a little too broad, a little too unrefined. Happily, Eldest Son thought it was the funniest thing he had EVER seen, and Daughter yelped through the entire thing: when a miniature pony was followed onto the stage by a real live ballerina I thought it was entirely possible that she would combust with sheer girly-heaven-joy. There was a low point when Eldest Son turned around (for they were sitting in front of us) and asked “Will there be any Big Cats?” and got a negative response, that would have introduced a bout of sulking (had it not been for my tart: “But I hope you’re enjoying it anyway, Eldest Son, as Mummy and I wanted to take you for a nice treat” and got a very wise “It’s fantastic!” response), but otherwise, it was an absolute winner, and at two hours, it was incredibly good value – especially when one considers that it was rounded off with THE WHEEL OF DEATH!!!!

Wife, who had arranged permission to photograph the show with the staff previously spoke to the Ringmaster in the interval. “People forget that this is real family entertainment. We please everyone from the ages of three to eighty” he said – and I agree with him. There was a real charm (not to mention nostalgia) to the whole experience: some routines and some acts unchanged in – at least – thirty years: and if the choice for “family entertainment” is between the circus and “Britain’s Got Talent” (which should, of course, be more correctly entitled: “How DareYou Stand Before People As Great As Us, The Mighty Simon Cowell, The Gifted Amanda Holden, and The Legendary Piers Morgan and DREAM That You Have Talent? We Shall Now Humiliate You, You SCUM!”), well, I know what I would choose.

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Wife has had one of her photographs selected for a massive photographic exhibition, and so has high-tailed it up to Derby where the event takes place for the next six weeks (although she has gone only for three days…). So while she is trading stories of the wrong lens and over-long exposure with fellow exhibitors Martin Parr and Gregory Crewsden, I am in charge of the children – and most terrifyingly: their homework.

I was right to be terrified: not because of the length of time that the children would take (and the consequent pressure on my winningly sunny nature) to complete the tasks, but because of the wholly unwelcome glimpse it gave me of the level of education in the school…specifically: the teacher’s.

In the ironically titled “Literacy Homework”, Eldest Son was expected to complete a story, the beginning of which had been written by the teacher (and supplied at the top of the page). The title was the perpetual favourite: “A Trip to the Zoo” – but the trouble began with the sentences that had been written as the opening of the story: because here we learned of some of the animals in the Zoo. Our hero and heroine (and Mummy and Daddy – it’s a Catholic school, after all…) were delighted to see the antics of the (to quote) “flamingo’s”, “gorilla’s” and “monkey’s”.

I don’t really know where to start with this. I am not expecting a teacher of six year-olds to be an M.Litt. (or even a graduate, if I’m honest): but surely they should know how to write a plural, rather than a possessive, shouldn’t they?

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Wife has been having a fairly torrid time with her photography of late.

There have been quite a few highs: her Private View was absolutely brilliant, for a start. These are not just the words of a proud husband (although there is a fair bit of that), but an objective reaction to her work. In the first instance, she was asked by the course tutors to submit double the amount of work of anyone else; in the second instance, her work was hung in the most prominent spaces in the gallery (facing you as you entered the gallery on a wall that featured nothing else); and in the third instance, listening to what other people said as they reviewed her work (especially her large collage compositions) revealed that she was, and is, a photographic genius. There is also the fact that the work is rolling in: corporate gigs and private commissions have meant that on occasions (such as last weekend) she has had jobs on both days.

On the down side was the fact that last night, as she fired up the Mac to burn a disc of some shots that she was due to deliver this morning, she was unable to find them. Any of them.

An increasingly panicked search through IPhoto, Picture Project and the Desktop yielded nothing – but for some reason, as soon as she opened Flikr, she was able to access the photos in question, download them to the Mac and burn a disc. At this point, she was pretty much beside herself with worry (and frustration: like me, she hates it when she doesn’t understand HOW something works), but the shots are found, they’re great, and they’re going to be there on time.

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Monday, 28th May 2008

Wife has a photography client poised to come for a session. So, while Wife has managed to sort her end of the bargain (even buying more equipment and stands in NY), I have simply to wire up an external hard drive to the very weedy Mac.

I say simply: there is nothing simple about it at all. In fact, from the fact that it is fitted with an American plug (understandably, since we bought it in the USA) to the fact that the instructions appear to be written in Klingon, there is nothing simple about it.

So, this may be adieu from me. If the fucking thing doesn’t work first time, I’m just going to turn this machine off for good and force Wife to go back to film.

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Wife Wins Out

Friday, 16th November 2007

Wife’s photography is really beginning to take off.

Every year, the school calendar has been shot by professional photographers. This year, Wife has done it and the verdict is (unanimously) that hers is the best that they’ve ever had.

Now, Wife is a trained and published photographer herself, but it’s a long-time since she’s been making a living from it – but it seems that those days are looming. The school has given her the contract for all their promotional material, ordered the biggest print run of a calendar they’ve ever done, ordered large prints of each of her shots to hang in the school corridors; and she has had three portrait commissions.

I am so proud of her, and delighted to think that after all the (professional) sacrifices she made to give our children her undivided attention and the best life they could have, there is going to be a time when she can do something that gives her so much pleasure, and that she’s so good at.

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