The Sunflower

Congratulations to Steven Billups who had the following two images juried into the Natural Nude exhibition at the SE Center for photography, Greenville South Carolina (one of the jurors being Kim Weston). The first is of me, hiding behind a sunflower (as one does) and the second, Dune Shadows, is of the wonderful Anoush Anou, a friend I haven’t seen in far too long (we once hiked the Grand Canyon together!) – hope to visit both of these people in the US when I visit next year! Anyone wanting info on that will hear from me once dates are planned if they’re signed up to my mailing list.

I can’t believe it’s been so many years since I was last in the US. I’ve been to Australia a lot in recent years and that’s taken over my far-flung travels a bit. Anyway, I’ve been home here in the UK for just over a week now – had such a creative time and shall be updating this blog with lots of results. I literally created a spreadsheet a couple of days ago listing all the shoots I am planning to blog; friends, there are 71 columns of photographer’s names. So, um, stay tuned..!

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The Albion Beatnik Bookstore

The Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford, recently closed, was one of a kind. A totally unique haven for book and music lovers, with a hefty collection of loose leaf tea. You can imagine: I spent quite a bit of time there. I was granted access to using this characterful place as a photographic location last year for a couple of shoots, and briefly advertised this (it pays to be on my mailing list, take note..!) the following were taken by Paul Jeffery, who grappled bravely with minimal light options and cramped dimensions in such a brilliantly chaotic place. Throw a piano into the situation, plus a touch of costuming towards the end (a good art model always packs her finger cymbals for a shoot!), and this is what you get:

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Rainforest Treasures

Working with Zoe is always an adventure – ‘come on’, she says, as I try and find my flip-flops and follow her out through the grounds of the enormous rainforest estate. The other thing it always is is laid back. I love this about Zoe – the shoots just unfold and you see what turns up. In this case, what turned up was an urge in Zoe to find a massive rainforest leaf or two and relieve the trees of them especially for me to hold. It’s quite an honour to touch such big leaves – they’re truly Jurassic. Another thing was a desire to erect a black backdrop in the middle of the rainforest – it was one of the most surreal ‘studios’ I’ve posed in; snakes and spiders almost certainly all around us, hiding out and wondering what on earth we were doing, whispering to each other in Strayan.

I think Zoe’s photography is beautiful – it seems to focus on the strength and power of women and her subjects often look like superheros you wouldn’t want to mess with (not to say she doesn’t capture the softness too), and through her (mostly) yearly retreats which have been running since 2002 all over the globe, bringing wonderful people together, she’s created quite a phenomenon. I have loved attending the last several years and made some really good friends. Long live inter-border art-making in cool environments! 🙂

The first few are with Carlotta, Elilith, Anne, Brooke, Tara, Cheyanne, Titania and Jessamyn (who are all brilliant women, from various continents, who I love hanging out with).

In some of the below, my hair is wet from posing under the indoor waterfall, as one does.

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Two’s Company

It was a total pleasure to work twice in quick succession with James a while ago – during the first shoot we had at a beautiful location near my house (15th century ruins, a river… and the mist was rolling in during the early morning so atmospherically!), I mentioned that a model friend of mine, Jessamyne will be staying with me for a while the next week as she was visiting from LA. He snapped up the opportunity to photograph us both together (we hadn’t officially advertised it) and went for dreamy, pre-Raphaelite-esque styles, towards which Jessamyne & I naturally gravitate in taste/style anyway. It was lovely! For that second shoot, the three of us went to my local ancient woodland and basically played around in the trees with flowers in our hair… bliss! During her stay, we did lots of sightseeing around my hometown, Oxford, and I saw it in a fresh new light (I already was in love with it, but now I’m even more so) – we did the open top bus among other things, which I really recommend. Honestly, you can’t walk a single centimetre here without incredible history, literary figures, politicians, world events, science and arts and all sorts of eminent leaders jostling along with you.

(The rest of the time we basically did face masks, watched period dramas and ate vegan chocolate with figs… :-))

I’m looking forward to seeing Jessamyne again later this year in wonderful Australia! It’s going to be amazing!

With thanks to James for letting me share these photos. 🙂

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