Damsels in Distress: Shalott

Copied from the ever-helpful Wikipedia, this is the story of the Lady of Shalott, the inspiration for a day with Keith Cooper last summer:

According to legend, the Lady of Shalott was forbidden to look directly at reality or the outside world; instead she was doomed to view the world through a mirror, and weave what she saw into tapestry. Her despair was heightened when she saw loving couples entwined in the far distance, and she spent her days and nights aching for a return to normality. One day the Lady saw Sir Lancelot passing on his way in the reflection of the mirror, and dared to look out at Camelot, bringing about a curse. The lady escaped by boat during an autumn storm, inscribing ‘The Lady of Shalott’ on the prow. As she sailed towards Camelot and certain death, she sang a lament. Her frozen body was found shortly afterwards by the knights and ladies of Camelot, one of whom is Lancelot, who prayed to God to have mercy on her soul. The tapestry she wove during her imprisonment was found draped over the side of the boat.

Keith was inspired by paintings such as this one by Waterhouse (which happens to be adorning my nearest radiator by way of magnetism), and had wanted to do this shoot with Ivory Flame and I for a long time, so we arranged a date, boat hire and took a row up and down the river here in Oxford. I absolutely love the results. The colours, reflections and fabrics and range of emotions (there was laughter, tenderness, peacefulness and quite a bit of death), came out so well, I think, and I’m really proud of these.

Help me pick a favourite?! (As always, click and scroll through to see larger.)

Outtake alert:

Holly and I are planning to do our best to visit the current pre-Raphaelite exhibition in London before it finishes this weekend. Who thinks we should turn up to the Tate in our long, white dresses?
We will also be modelling together on Saturday the 9th of February at Eye For An Image Studio in Banbury, Oxfordshire. I think there may be some time available for anyone interested in working with an experienced and creative duo.

By the Seaside and The Beauty of Women

I hope everyone is having a happy new year so far… I’ve been feeling a tiny bit ill (and so a tiny bit grumpy), but am definitely making the most of small pleasures; as if stationery didn’t make me happy enough as it already is, I today discovered that staples are available in different colours while on an incredibly boring but necessary jaunt to buy a new receipt file (the joys of keeping things for SIX YEARS). Pink, blue, green and yellow. My inner fourteen year-old girl is buzzing. I also got some very beautiful new towels today; I am easily pleased (well, that’s not strictly true, but for the purposes of this blog post let’s say I am). And I’m doing pretty well with my extreme multi-tasking idea; I want to improve my German and French this year, morphing the knowledge I have into actual practical confidence, to be tested later in the year on various trips, and am squeezing in some audio lessons during very short stints on my exercise bike. I wonder if I will forever associate particular words with the view of my speedometer.

Anyway, one thing I am very pleased about is to be able to mention that three photographer/artists I’ve worked with are all exhibiting at the same time. Mark Davy-Jones, Gregory Brown and Jeff Wack will all be showing work at ‘The Beauty of Women’ at The Menier Gallery, London 8-19th January. I know that some images of me are being featured by Mark, though I don’t know which, and will have to go along to find out if I’ll be featured in any more.

Interestingly, the Guild of Erotic Artists says of the exhibition:

THE BEAUTY OF WOMEN is an exhibition that is designed to allow the visitor to view the female form as a thing of beauty that is generally considered too private and intimate for public display. If shown at all, a woman’s body is usually presented in a negative fashion, generally within the context of pornography, intended, in almost all cases, for the exclusive pleasure of men. The goal of this exhibition is to remove these indecent inferences, contained in works of art over the centuries.’

I’m hoping to visit in between modelling for the Yerburys at the annual SWPP convention at the London Hilton on Edgeware Rd, which I’m really looking forward to. If you’re planning to be there, come and say hi!

Seems fitting to finally blog some images Mark Davy-Jones took of me and Kayleigh Lush a while ago. I love these!

(The biddies in the background didn’t pay us much attention.)

And this has reminded me that I need to plan a quick visit to the Isle of Wight again for March/April – will get on to that soon, though am all in a flux at the moment about when to visit Paris (4th-9th April?) and am also itching to get on with planning my trip to Scotland (early May; big proper tour, unlike my last year’s piddly foray into just Edinburgh, as stunningly beautiful as that city is), amongst others. Planning planning planning.

2012: a Retrospective

My New Years Resolutions are going to be quite pared down this time around. I’m actually not keen to change a huge amount. I’m feeling happier than I’ve felt in a while and am gratefully aware of it. This last year has been hard in certain ways, but I’ve got through it by frequently reminding myself how much I have to be grateful for, how independent and capable I have become, and also relying on my (full of questions, full of curiosity) spirituality. I am extremely lucky in so many ways and thankful for it! On top of that, I feel like I’ve finally found my ‘tribe’ in terms of dance classes, which are very important to me (missing them terribly over the Christmas break, but I would like to officially announce that I at least went on my exercise bike ON CHRISTMAS DAY, in between fistfuls of ferero roches), have made lots of new friends in the last few months by putting myself out there and meeting up with people based on shared interests, and am feeling more confident that I will be free to finally focus on what I want to focus on, now that upset and confusion are out of the door. I also have a lot of very exciting possibilities to look forward to!

Anyway, enough of all that. I’m shamelessly copying something Ivory Flame did last year, and showcasing some of my personal favourites from my 2012 year of blogging. What an amazing year it’s been!!!

From Happy New Year, by Ron Skei, Vancouver:

From Rich Caramel Chocolate, by Cam Attree, Mexico:

From Mosquito nets, Metaphysics and Mississippi Mud Pie, by Mel Brackstone, Mexico:

From Pottery, Petals and Peach Sunset, by Cam Attree, Mexico:
From Luxury Strikes Again, by Keith Cooper, Cheltenham Film Studio
From Natural Women, by Stephen Billups, Mexico:

From Bug Off*, by Cam Attree, Mexico:

From Dance in the Studio, by TarMoo, Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Trips and Leaves, by Robert Farnham, Mexico:

From A celebration, some wedding princessing and some Lions (and a monkey), by Mike Croshaw, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From The Edge of the World, by Billy Sheahan, Mexico:

From Costume Changes, by Mike Croshaw, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From Spring Flower Portraits, by Richard Tuckett:

From Technicoloured Earth, by Billy Sheahan, Mexico:

From Silk in the Dark, by Barry Barker:

From Let’s Dance, by Jeremie Nassif, Paris:

From Mean, Moody and Magnificent Muse in Montmartre at Midnight (post macaroon), by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From Strength in the Dark, by Eric Kellerman, Nijmegen, Holland:

From Swathes of Lavender, by Imagesse, Gloucestershire:

From Paris by Day ~ Travelogue, by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From Portraits, Box, Stripes and Lightning, by Eric Kellerman, Nijmegen, Holland:

From Postcards – an Exhibition, by Robbie Wraith, Oxfordshire:

From On the Plank, by Vanijzen, Amsterdam:

From Fairy Paintings, by Philip Malpass:

From Lioness Lightplay, by Neil Snape, Paris:

From Trees and Bicycles, by Jules Photography:

From Riverdance, by Britalicus, Edinburgh:

From Extreme Eiffel Tower Exploits, Etc, by Jeremy Howitt, Paris:

From White on Black, by Klaus Kampert, Dusseldorf:

From TWO ~ Ella Rose and Ivory Flame, by Karen Jones, Eye for an Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Yerbury Fine Art Nude Masterclass, by Max Operandi:

From Pebbles, by Jeremy Howitt, Brighton beach:

From Public Service Announcement ~ A Book! 😉 (And I’m hoping to start putting together a massive book for myself in 2013, covering various styles) Cover image by Keith Cooper, digitally magicalised by Moonmomma:

From Bedroom Glamour, by Tony Ornstien, Oxfordshire:

From Clouds and Poppies, by Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

From Colouroids, by Steven Billups, Black Forest, Germany:

From Lions, Points and Window Light, by Nige W. Hallam Mill, Stockport:

From Gypsy Dance, by Frank (Pangolin). Gregory Brown’s LoftHouse Studio, London:

From Red Jellyfish and Black Tutus, by Richard Spurdens. Hallam Mill Studio, Stockport:

From Painting with Chaos, by Terry Joslin, featuring Ivory Flame. Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

From Sunset, Candle, Tree, by Rayment Kirby, Sussex:

From When We Had Summer, by Max Operandi:

From Hands and Roots, by Steven Billups. Black Forest, Germany:

From Peaches and Cream, by Richard Lund, Buckinghamshire:

From Purple Haze, by Keith Cooper, Cheltenham Film Studio:

From Mr Cupid, by Karen Jones, Buckinghamshire:

From Enchanted Forest, by Calandra Images. Fife, Scotland:

From Solarised, by Zoe Wiseman. Palm Springs, CA:

From Beetroot and Rocks, by Bob Freund. Joshua Tree National Park:

From Cracked Earth, Sleek Fashion and Tumbleweed, by Jeremy Howitt. Lucerne Valley:

From Ourania Ascending Mount Wilson, by Jeff Wack, featuring Anoush Anou. LA:

From A-flitting and a-fluttering, by Brian Martin. Fife, Scotland:

From Mirrors, by Neil Snape. Paris:

From Otters, Rocks and Water Lillies, by Imagesse. Pembrokeshire, Wales:

From Running in Heels, by Tony Ornstien, Oxfordshire:

From Underwater Fires, by Zoe Wiseman, featuring Meghan Claire. California:

From Grapes and Ferrets, by Vincent Rijs, Amsterdam:

From Thinkin’ About Your Body, by OnePixArt, LA:

From Guide us to Thy Perfect Light, by Karen Jones. Eye For An Image Studio, Oxfordshire:

Back to the New Years Resolutions thing, I’ve realised that, for me, black and white decision-making is liberating, though it’s definitely not something that comes easily to me. With that in mind, one new thing is that I’ve decided I will probably no longer drink any alcohol – not because I think drinking is bad (it’s not!), or because I don’t like the taste (I do; wine and cocktails especially!), or because I have a problem with alcohol (I hardly drink as it is!), but because I’ve finally acknowledged the fact that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve shown signs of alcohol intolerance. I looked it up on Christmas Eve when one drop of sherry made my face red, and apparently most of my Mum’s side of the family were tee-total for reasons unknown (hhhmm….); and I’ve since learnt that alcohol intolerance can be hereditary. Ha! Thinking back, as a teenager, there are a few things that stand out: I only started wearing make up on my face to pre-emptively cover up the extreme ‘flushing’ I’d get over my face and chest after just a couple of sips of wine, and I remember sitting with my friends and wondering whether I was wearing the wrong size underwear because my chest felt painful and tight after a few drinks. I also know that the ‘depressant’ aspect of alcohol, especially after drinking wine, is a real thing for me, where a party high is followed by feeling really down the next day. So I’ve decided not to bother drinking alcohol at all. That’s not really a ‘resolution’, though, as it’s not something I feel compelled to do for moral or health or other reasons of self-improvement (and I won’t be strict about it); it’s just a new, official validation of what I’d suspected all along. So bring on the lime soda and cranberry apples! Or something. I can still dance and have fun; I just won’t feel like my cheeks are on fire, and can drive home at the end of it. 🙂

On the other hand, I’ve also learnt that black-and-white goal-making is not so helpful for a person who is already extremely ambitious and has high expectations of herself. So sometimes ‘I will do a bit of x every day, and just so long as a bit of x gets done, I will have succeeded’ is more helpful as a goal than ‘I will do precisely y amount of x everyday, so that by z (where z = an unrealistically short term), x will be completed’. You all know I’m talking about my writing. And that I will probably still aim to do y most days. It’s just that I’ll be kinder to myself if I don’t manage it, so long as I’ve ‘shown up’ and done something. (But see ‘free to finally focus on what I want to focus on’, above.) 🙂

…Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful final few days of 2012… and a fresh, bright and hopeful start to 2013!

Thinkin’ About Your Body

Although modelling is my ‘full time income’, as I usually put it, writing is my long-term dream, and my time is split into two professions, realistically (though the two work very well together). I always write on the days I’m not modelling. This morning, instead of banging out 1000 words of my current work in progress (which is actually going quite well at the moment!), I spent an hour accidentally banging out a poem instead. I have told myself that this can justify the static word count of my novel, since I haven’t let myself do this in a very long time.

Probably needs some changes and polishing (some stanzas in particular definitely need some whipping), but I’m quite pleased with it as a first draft:

Mapping Renewal
2-3 weeks for the lungs.
About a year for the alveoli to regenerate.
Nothing on the surface; forever, deeper.
24 hours for the cornea. Which explains
why I can see you so clearly now.
20 years for the heart. Perhaps four times
in a lifetime. Three if repairs are slow. Scars
can’t muscle. Intestines; 2 or 3 days. Fighting to rid;
stomach acid sears through. Gargle, spit:
taste buds; every ten days. I am not
so enthused by your wanderlust now.
6-8 weeks for an eyelash. Mine
are doe like, defined by black; don’t bat for you.
3-6 years for hair and your indecision.
I bleached mine; I am getting it cut.
The skeleton takes ten years. Osteoclasts.
Osteoblasts. Break down. Build up. I am cast
as beauty. My closet is empty.
Fingernails twice as fast as toenails.
Keratin, circulation, tissue supply.
New skin every two weeks.
Less elastic. Still waterproof.
We won’t touch again. The liver, flushing
away cruel toxins; just five months a round.

The brain ages alone, coughing notes in the dark
through dreams and organs; imagines its own future:
conjures decision; the belief that it can thrive.
*********************************************************************************
And because I thought Mosa (of OnePixArt) might appreciate this kind of thing, here are some images he took of me in LA. I have admired his artwork for a long time, and it was certainly interesting to be let in on his philosophies about women. I think the third is my favourite.

*********************************************************************************

And finally, a song about bodies I’ve been enjoying by Bobby McFerrin… Love this guy. I’ve finally joined the modern age and have all my music on my phone. Well, not all; do you have any idea how much music I own? It’s quite shocking. But anyway, along with some questionable beauties (the most questionable being Take That’s debut album, teach-yourself-spanish, and the Sister Act soundtrack – all choices I personally stand by, however) I treated my studio day attendees on Saturday to such gems as:


Off now for a round two of responding to emails before meeting up with new friends tonight. Excited to see lots of my ‘old’ friends in the next week or so too. You gotta love that about Christmas; everyone gathers. 🙂

Running in Heels

A big hello to Tony and Jennifer Ornstien, who are currently upside down in New Zealand, flown south for winter! The following shots were taken by Tony in and around their house. I like the blur and voyeuristic aspect which some of them have – they’re a bit strange and interesting, glamorous and gritty! Lingerie outdoors, statues facing the other way, running in the leaves… I love them. (Dress, belt and shoes provided, lingerie and warm coat my own!)

Having worked with Tony a few times previously (this blog post, ‘Bedroom Glamour’, was very popular!), I was very kindly given a collage of prints from previous shoots recently. I really appreciate having physical prints of some of the things I get up to! As for Tony and Jennifer, they currently have a corner in their house for me! 🙂

Cracked Earth, Sleek Fashion and Tumbleweed

Very excited to show you these, from my most recent photographic adventure with photographer Jeremy Howitt. As you may have noticed, we do end up shooting in some fun places, and when I mentioned to Jeremy that I’d be in California in October he took the opportunity to visit too! I am having a bit of a dilemma here about which images to post first, but think I’ll go for the ones taken at Lucerne Valley dry lake bed. (Edit: I might be lying; I’ll probably post everything.)

Jeremy had in mind some images he’d seen of some dry, cracked earth, and I jumped at the idea, as I have never shot in a location like that before – one where you can literally see the ground splitting apart – and I knew it would make for some amazing shots! Luckily, we found an absolutely perfect spot and also managed to coincide our jaunt with a storm which was making its way in over the San Bernadino mountains, which made for the incredible sky you’ll see below. (No, it really wasn’t photoshopped in!). Jeremy has already posted a thread on PurplePort about the trip here, if you’d like to read his version of events.

As always, I’m very grateful to Jeremy for choosing me to model for him yet again, and in such amazing places! Some of these images are just so spectactular – a wonderful combination of landscape photography and figurative art. In this area we focused mainly on keeping the pose(s) simple while Jeremy experimented with perspective. I especially love the fourth shot here (which I then go on to post a million versions/crops of… sorry!… Help?) I think this amazing place deserves to be seen in both monochrome and colour. Any preferences though?

Previous to this set, we had visited El Mirage, another dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert, but one whose landscape is completely different. I really love how simple these shots are – in such a vast, empty space the poses are everything.. all the world’s a stage, etc., etc., and I love the dusty tones on the horizon. (Clothes provided by Jeremy.)

I like to call this the ‘Batwoman’ set:

And we also managed some quick nudes, despite having to chase the black fabric half way down the desert at one point. That wind was fast!

And finally, a quick set we did with some tumbleweed found on the side of the road. We were pretty determined to do this (dappled light = goodness!) and again the wind played its part; it took great restraint and gravity control not to be pulled around while lifting it up. They are surprisingly heavy. And utter wind traps. Pretty amazing little (big) things, tumbleweeds!

So, I’m afraid this has been another bumper blog post… I have been spoiled with images again (I also have square-crop versions of most, and the colour/mono debate is evident once more…) so please do declare your favourites with any comments! Thank you!

Beetroot and Rocks

It is completely and utterly unnecessary, not to mention irrelevant to the purposes of this blog, to let you know what I had for dinner this evening, but I think what I just made needs to go down in history.

Beetroot, walnut and goats cheese spelt risotto.

Method:
– One onion (or a few shallots) in butter in big shallow pan
– Add garlic
– Two chopped cooked beetroots
– One courgette
– Handful of walnuts
– 100g wholegrain spelt (serves 2)
– Sizzle briefly (that’s the food, not the cook, though I was wearing an indecent amount of glamorous eye make up from today’s shoot)
– Add about 450ml of vegetable stock, and a splash of white wine for luck
– boil/simmer until the spelt absorbs most of the water
– grate in hard goats cheese
– Inhale gorgeousness
– Grind in a load of black pepper
– Admire the bright pink concoction as it bubbles away
– When liquid is absorbed, serve into shallow bowls and top with a handful of fresh watercress.

Delicious.

In other news, I’m happy to say I’ll be modelling for the Yerburys at the SWPP Photographic Convention in January (8th-14th at the Hilton at Edgware, London), for their two ‘Superclasses’, ‘Boudoir to Nude’, which has just three places left (on Tues 8th) and a portraits/creative lighting class (on the 11th) which has already sold out. It’ll be my first time there, and I’m sure will be a lot of fun! Maybe see some of you there, so come and say hi!

And finally, here are some shots made by the very lovely Bob Freund, taken in the stunning, surreal, wonderfully spiky Joshua Tree National Park in California. I spotted a coyote there one day (I was lucky enough to go there several times in the course of a week) and spent one evening lying against rocks in the dark watching the amazing star-ful sky! Very very peaceful and eerie. Bob found a particular spot in the park that he’d been searching for years, since photographing it once and wanting to go back; that’s not an easy feat, when the park is so huge, and required an initial detour to a patch of deceptively beautiful, violent cacti. Luckily, they didn’t get us! Thanks Bob!