12 Women

In December 2014 I worked with the Japanese artist/model Yuka Tanaka. We were working on a narrative series inspired by certain Japanese photographers we both liked. We got some nice pictures but it didn't quite work. A couple of months later, I went back and had another look at the images and suddenly saw everything in a completely different way. Energised, I worked through the night re-editing the pictures and my first Nude Study in Nine Parts was created. In April 2015, the celebrated dancer Vanessa Abreu and I got together to create the second study.

Over the last eighteen months I have worked with a number of women to create the series “12 Women”. Some were life models who were used to being photographed or painted nude; some were volunteers who had never done anything like this before.

There is a huge pressure on women to be perfect. Perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect bodies. Photographs in magazines and online continuously reinforce this and I have to admit that with much of my work I have been guilty of colluding in this.

But with this project I wanted to portray the female body in a natural, matter of fact way. Naked rather than nude.  In each of the shoots I gave the woman just one direction: “Sleep and restless sleep” and I shot what they gave me. In post-production I just played with the light and colour. I didn’t do any retouching. I didn’t make them perfect.

This is a project that explores a wider view of female beauty. Through these twelve studies of everyday women this project looks at the variety of the female body: different shapes, different sizes, different ages and different ethnicities. All different; all beautiful.

Excerpts from the project were exhibited at Gallery 1885 in London in July 2016.

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