17th May

Tonight was the opening of the Spencer Tunick exhibition at Strange Cargo in Folkestone. We drove down and folowed the directions to the car park which we found was free by the time we got there. We walked up the hill towards the gallery.

Strange cargo

As we approached we saw there were a lot of people milling around outside so we guessed that it wasn’t open yet. As we drew along side the gallery we spotted a display of scopes in the window. At first I thought they were just dummy ones but soon realised by the way people were looking in them that they weren’t. I scanned them all kind of hoping that mine wasn’t among them – it wasn’t!

scope out

We waited outside and at about 8:45 they started to invite us in – only they seemed to have suddenly realised we wouldn’t all fit in at the same time. So they called us in in the groups we were put in at the shoot – we were all given a piece of paper dividing us into groups of 10 to make it easier for us to get our scopes. I was in group 2 so was in the second bunch of people to go in. Our scopes were on a ring and there was much debate about how they should be given to us. Spencer was flitting back and forth and generally supervising. The girl handed me a scope and said she thought that was mine – I steeled myself and looked in. That wasn’t me! He didn’t even have a beard…or any hair! I handed it back and a few minutes later I was eventually given the correct one. Personally I didn’t think I looked too bad!

Spencer Tunick

So I then set about looking for my other picture – the one in the exhibition – and I found it quite quickly. The scopes were all mounted in a sheet of perspex and illuminated by a light at their end. They were quite low down and you had to bend to look into them and once your eye was in position it took a few milliseconds to get into focus. Of course until you bent down you didn’t know if it was going to be a man or a woman at the end of the scope so it meant you didn’t just look at the opposite sex! It was one thing to see my naked image at the end of the scope I was holding in my hand but quite another when I found my image in the exhibition!

opening night

The idea was that we were meant to share your scope with other participants and non participants but I found this quite difficult. I didn’t find so much showing to people who asked but I felt strange asking people if I could see theirs! Even people I’d already seen naked. I said to a couple of the people I did talk to that when I was having my photo taken I didn’t feel as though I was naked and another guy said that as soon as he started to get dressed he felt as though he didn’t belong there any more! However it was so crowded and hot in the gallery you could barely move so we decided to go off and get something to eat down by the harbour.

We found a fish & chip shop and bought some food and then decamped to a bench overlooking the boats. We ate our food then whilst being berated by a seagull that quite obviously thought he was a dog and barked constantly at us whilst sidling towards us when he thought we weren’t looking! After we’d eaten we went for a walk along to the beach before heading back up to the exhibition.

Spencer Tunick - Scope Out

It was a bit quieter and I managed to get a look at the scopes on the opposite side which I hadn’t been able to get to before. At one point Spencer asked us to look into them so he could take a photograph – odd being photographed by Mr Tunick with our clothes on! I asled him for an autograph which he did somewhat begrudgingly, my pen didn’t write on the card so he pulled a sharpie out of his pockets and scrawled his name along the edge.

Afterwards the most wonderful thing happened. A man indicated one of the scopes and said “it’s my wife”. So I took a look and then handed her my scope which se looked at and then passed me her scope saying “it’s diffferent”. I thought to myself how wonderful that tis man, who hadn’t taken part himself, was so proud of his wife and her image that he wanted to show her picture off to a complete stranger. To me that sums up the whole atmosphere and ethos of the event.Maybe there is hope for humanity after all, well maybe just a small part of it anyway!

Scope

16th May

It was weird being back at work after yesterday’s outing. I’d put a slightly obscure status about it on Facebook and wondered if anyone had picked up on it. They hadn’t – it probably would have taken some clicking of links and working out what Spencer Tunick did for them to even get close to putting two and two together – they’d probably only have noticed if I’d posted one that said “I’ve just been photographed naked on Folkestone beach by Spencer Tunick!”

Saw this great cartoon on Facebook from one of the participants!

spencer comes to folkestone

I also found some images of Spencer working on the scopes for tomorrow nights opening!

scope montage

15th May

What a brilliant experience!

Today was part 1 of the Spencer Tunick Scope Out event in Folkestone. Photo Shoot day! It was, thankfully a beautiful warm sunny day – the perfect day to get naked!

I’ve been a fan of Spencer’s work for quite some time and have always wanted to be in one of his pictures. He is more well known for his vast nudescapes like this one in Newcastle.

But due to various restraints this project featured individual portraits rather than a group shot which meant that it was less anonymous and a bit more scary! The outline of the project is here.

So I set off for Folkestone and after driving past the meeting point three time I finally worked out where I was meant to be. It was a good job I’d allowed an extra half hour! I parked the car up and walked round to check in. I signed the release form and sat myself down next to a bunch of people who were chatting away. It was most unlike me, normally I’d end up keeping myself to myself but I just felt like I wanted to join in the conversation.

We chatted about the project and how we felt about it – it transpired that I wasn’t alone in feeling more nervous about Saturday when we show our pictures to people than actually being photographed. One girl said she practised her pose in front of the mirror that morning and a guy replied “I’ve been doing that for 4 weeks!”. Another girl announced how she been out and bought a new pair of knickers the previous day! It turned out that we were the first group to be photographed and that Spencer Tunick had actually selected all the participants himself – that made me feel quite good. As we chatted I watched the people arriving and signing in trying to work out what sort of people had volunteered to do this. Sure there was a high proportion of “arty” types but there seemed to be a whole cross section of people including in our group a nurse and someone who had come along between meetings and had dragged all her stuff up the hill in a wheely bag!

Then one of the organisers came and asked the people in the first group to follow her and we started to walk down to the beach. A little way down the hill she stopped us and briefed us telling us that there were two gazebos where we could get undressed and that we should put our clothes in the bags provided. She pointed out that there was a TV crew down there but they wouldn’t be filming us! She joked that they’d had to do a risk assessment for the event but the one thing they hadn’t taken into account was the risk of sunburn! We then continued down a very steep hill which took us past a campsite and then through a gateway and onto the beach!

image

It was the most beautiful location with high chalk cliffs all around. There was an open stretch of concrete which had 2 bright orange gazebos set up on it. To the right was a beach and to the left the cliffs, in front of  us was the sea. We came round to the front of the gazebos and on the edge of the concrete by the sea sat Spencer with a little table next to him. There were a group of people in the obligatory Hi-Viz jackets around him. We were pointed towards one of the gazebos and told to undress.

I’ve never seen so many people get naked in such a short space of time. One girl simply grabbed the hem of her dress and pulled it over her head revealing she was completely naked underneath. I ended up at the back of the queue due to the time it took me to get my boots off. I only saw one person hesitate and curiously she was one of the ones I’d noticed arrived and thought she looked quite confident in a tight dress! She did eventually get undressed but stood somewhat aloof from the rest of us. One lady had a small baby in a pushchair with her who must have wondered what the hell was going on!

image

One by one we were called forward and asked our names. We were then introduced to Spencer and directed to stand a few feet in front of him near the edge of the concrete facing him. he then took two pictures, one with each of the two cameras he had on the table and then it was the next persons turn. I stood in the line of naked people for quite a while before it was my turn but curiously it didn’t feel at all odd. It was also refreshing to see that the fact that we were now all naked didn’t stop the banter and conversation that had been going on at the top of the hill and on the way down. It’s not the first time I’ve been naked in a crowd of people like that and I was reminded how we are all the same and yet at the same time different!

When it was my turn I went and took up my position slipping slightly as I walked over the wet surface. He asked me to move slightly to my left and then took a picture of me looking out towards the sea. the second picture was taken with me looking towards him and that was it. I wandered back over to the gazebo as the next naked person took my place. I got dressed and walked back up the hill past the TV crew who were interviewing people as they came out – luckily they were already filming as I went past!

image

So that was it – really enjoyed the experience and fulfilled an ambition (well half fulfilled I’d still like to be in one of his big installations!) Would I do it again – at the drop of a…erm hat!

I was quite disappointed to see the following pictures on the local paper’s website. It was obvious that they’d sent along a photographer with a big lens to try and get some shots but instead of asking for permission they just sat up on the cliff and snapped away – the lens they had wasn’t quite good enough either! The information on the website was incorrect for most of the day so sloppy journalism was at play as well and it was late afternoon before a coherent and correct story actually appeared!

Spencer-4

There were a lot of sad and predictable comments too from people who’ve probably never done anything out of the ordinary in their lives “It’s disgusting” or “I just don’t get art” they cry – no doubt as they sneak another look at page 3. There were also some rather rude comments about the way people looked – obviously from people who’ve never looked in a mirror themselves or maybe there are just a load of people with “perfect” bodies commenting on the website! Get a fucking life you morons!Spencer-1

 

14th May

Still really busy at work – especially as Coca Cola have suddenly told us they want their video by Monday! This wasn’t helped by the fact there was an accident on the A2 again and it took me nearly 21/4 hours to get to work.

At quarter to one tonight I finally plucked up enough courage to tell Sarah about tomorrow! She, naturally, took the mickey out of me! She said I’m weird – you mean you’ve only just noticed!

Look at this beautiful picture by Spencer Tunick – called Desert Spirits and taken at Burning Man in Nevada (somewhere else I’d like to go!)

Spencer-Tunick-Desert-Spirits 500

13th May

Bloody hernia has started playing up again!

Sad news – the former deputy head from the school died at the weekend,  she’d only just retired. Sarah is understandably very upset.

It would have been my Grans 103rd birthday today!

10th May

Haircut!

Plus two letters from the solicitor we appointed to handle the house selling/ buying.  One was all the paperwork and the other was a letter saying that the agent and told him we wanted him to act for us and if we’d care to get in touch he be happy to oblige!  The second letter was dated after the first! Doesn’t bode well for the process does it?

Why do solicitors have this ability to piss me off?

9th May

As I sat in traffic on the way home tonight I got to musing about how much I’m going to miss the M25 when we move up north! I then started to think about what it would be like to commute to my current place of work from County Durham. One of the reasons we are moving is that we will be able to buy a house outright thus saving us £1000 a month in mortgage. I also spend around £350 a month on fuel commuting back and forth. I worked out that I could get a flat near to where I work and drive down on a Sunday and back on a Friday and still have more money (like £650) more than I have now.

I also worked out that I’d actually spend 3 hours a week less driving!

8th May

More good news today…..

An e-mail from a solicitor:

I am pleased to confirm I have now received your Dad’s grant of probate and I will therefore now start to collect in the assets.  My estimate is one month at the earliest before we will be in a position to make a distribution as the organisations we are collecting the assets from are generally large and bureaucratic.  I am however very pleased we have got the Probate as the Probate Registry were not as efficient as they usually are, in this case.

So it’s all coming together nicely – it’s only taken three years, two months and thirteen days to get to this point but as Sarah pointed out these things happen for a reason and if we’d got it two years ago we would have done something different to what we are planning to do. Maybe my Dad was watching over us!

And to make things even better the client who was coming in today that I woke up dreading actually only stayed for half an hour in the end and I was expecting him to be here all day – result. Then to make the day even better I got my new work MacBook and 8Tb external hard drive – cool!