A terrific tour & tea for two

Before I launch into this blog, a disclaimer. This is decidedly not about nudity, rather it’s about the British Parliament, the fantastic tours @VisitParliament oversee and tea overlooking the Thames so Socks on please.

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As a community, we’re already very engaged with environmental issues.  The widely acclaimed World Naked Bike Ride and the more recent World Naked Gardening Day are a testimony to how collective action in combination with the reach of social media can further promote a cause and raise awareness.  However, politically we don’t tend to engage with our respective governing bodies as much as we perhaps might.

Certainly, as a relatively small but vocal community in the UK, we keep our eye on Government policy which might have an impact on the naturist community but only a percentage of us actively engage with local authorities, our MPs and government unless our liberty is threatened.  In Britain, we strive to have a democratic constitution which means Parliament welcome representation from all sectors of the community, at local and national level.

UK residents and overseas visitors can attend debates on current issues or proposed new laws in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords by visiting the public galleries during the week.  It’s also possible to attend Select Committees which take evidence in public, with very few exceptions.  Parliament provides a calendar so you can see the schedule for both houses.

With spring flowers now nudging their way out of the soil, I’m looking back to late November when I was fortunate to attend a tour of the Houses of Parliament followed by tea.  The second such time I’ve been on such a tour and both times I was entranced.  Whether you’re a UK resident or visiting from overseas, it’s worth blocking off time to Visit Parliament.

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Tours take place on Saturdays throughout the year and most weekdays when Parliament is not in session.  My friend and I were fortunate; it was a crisp, sunny day, perfect for capturing pictures of the famous London buses and taxis along the short walk from Westminster tube station to the Houses of Parliament and the stunning architecture of  Henry VII’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey opposite the imposing St Stephens Entrance

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Having cleared security, we had time to spend before our tour started from Westminster Hall.   Upon our arrival, a 45 foot high Sitka Spruce tree from the Kielder Forest in Northumberland was being erected in New Palace Yard next to Big Ben

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It looked very different when we left later in the day.

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Fortified by tea and cake, we entered Westminster hall where another large Christmas tree from the same source was on display and awaited our tour guide, Micki Von Stieglitz.

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A large group, incorporating a range of nationalities, Mrs Stiegliz shepherded us around the House of Commons and the House of Lords during a very informative and fascinating tour.

Photography is permitted in Westminster Hall and St Stephen’s Hall both of which I cover in greater detail in this blog about the family tour I participated in with BritMums.

Now visiting Parliament with my artist friend, it was another opportunity to see ‘New Dawn’ by the artist Mary Branson measuring over six feet high and the first piece of abstract art in the historic palace, commisioned to celebrate the campaign for women’s right to the vote.

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Between 5 February to 11 April 2018, you can also book tickets to see Cornelia Parker’s artworks exhibition “Left, Right and Centre’ in Westminster Hall.

Cornelia Parker speaks for many of us with her sentiment “The future is very uncertain for Britain . . . everything’s in a bit of a mess,” as quoted in this Financial Times article by James Pickford about her exhibition.   “Cornelia Parker – the fifth official election artist and the first woman to take the role – trailed campaign events across the UK in the run-up to the snap June poll, uploading her images of politicians, voters, protesters and onlookers to a public Instagram feed.”

We walked past New Dawn up the stairs and into St Stephen’s Hall.  I took copious notes when we were trailing around after Mrs Stiegliz but honestly, there’s no substitute for taking the tour yourself.  Only the eyes are privy to the wonderful artworks, statues, friezes, tapestries, ornate carvings and those areas of Parliament we know so well from seeing televised debates.

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Quite how she managed to remember so much detail I’ve no idea but it was superb and left me wanting to go back again and again.  My friend was equally impressed.

After the tour, we were booked in for tea overlooking the Thames.  If you want to really experience historic London from a superb vantage point, this is it.

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Tea was sumptuous and the location couldn’t be more perfect;  The Terrace Pavilion, a purpose-built heated marquee.

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Suffice to say, it was delightful and a fitting end to a memorable day.  If you enjoy art as my friend and I both do, you’ll also find artworks lining the corridors en route to the Terrace.  I particularly liked the line drawings of Westminster Hall.

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Before leaving, another visit to the Gift Shop.  Every year in recent history, I’ve purchased a new decoration for Christmas.  This visit to Parliament fittingly provided me with a suffragette who took pride of place on my tree in 2017.  Yesterday Parliament announced a free exhibition to celebrate women’s suffrage “Voice and Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament” which will open on 27 June 2018 and run through to 6 October 2018 with tickets available online from Tuesday 6 February 2018*  I’m becoming a regular

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*for the period 27 June to 31 July.   Tickets for August will be available at the start of March and tickets for September will be available at the start of April.

 

 

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Naked Britain launches

Oh what a night!  I don’t get in to London that much. My friend and Designer Gavin Page (not fashion darlings) came along to join me for the preview of Naked Britain last night at the Herrick Gallery in Piccadilly, in advance of the exhibition taking place between 4th-8th November 2017.

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This documentary, photographic tribute to the naturist community has been two years in the making and the resultant glossy black and white images compiled in collaboration with photographer Amelia Allen, by her German publisher Kerer Verlag.

Amelia Allen, a well-known fashion and street photographer based in London, first became interested in naturism at the age of 16 after seeing a photograph of a naturist couple in Kent at an exhibition in New York by Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt.

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Amelia’s research led her to Britain’s national organisation for naturism, British Naturism. In conjunction with them she began to visit naturist clubs, otherwise known (farcically in our climate) as Sun Clubs, taking in clothing-optional and naturist events around the UK and documenting her findings in a series of striking images.

The book Naked Britain contains 80 black and white photographs of naturists at rest and play, in their homes, within naturist clubs and at critical environmental protest events like the World Naked Bike Ride, which takes place annually.  Some of these images are on display at the Herrick Gallery to coincide with the launch of Naked Britain which was released for pre-order on 2 November 2017.

Gavin and I travelled into the bright lights from leafy Buckinghamshire.  Spurning the crammed upmarket Piccadilly wine bars, the doors encircled by smokers with noxious smoke plumes assailing our nostrils, we settled upon a lovely outdoor market, as it turned out adjacent to the gallery.  Infinitely preferable!

 

 

Arriving fashionably late, after meandering around the local streets a bit (I knew it was a mistake relying on memory) we approached the gallery which had a throng of people outside but thankfully less evidence of smoking.  This was a young hip crowd.  As I put on various social media posts last night, two worlds collided, the fashionistas and naturists.

I’m an active networker so can easily transpose myself into different situations and having dressed up for the occasion in designer frocks myself, felt quite at home.  It’s our secret that they were procured from local charity shops, discounting the bag; I splashed out.

Effervescent Amelia welcomed us.  She’s so warm and friendly and puts people at their ease readily which is why I believe the photographs are a true reflection of our community and the joy and companionship we revel in amongst like-minded individuals.  It’s worlds away from the carping, body judgemental society we all have to operate in daily.

 

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Upstairs, photographs lined the walls and images of the front cover festooned the skirting boards.  I have to admit since that’s my ass on the front cover, it was slightly disconcerting to see myself 1000 times over.

Frustratingly, I missed the shot too and it’s a moment in time which is captured for eternity

 

Gavin and I worked our way downstairs after I’d wandered around, snapping a few of the images

 

 

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On the lower level of the gallery, various naturist friends were assembled in the hubbub of people.  It’s always good to catch up, clothed or otherwise and certainly at the beginning of the evening, we naturally gravitated towards our nude camp

 

 

Later in the evening, I mingled with the fashionistas, bewitched by their designer rags, securing permission to take photographs of them too.

 

 

But enough about us, look at the photographs which give the world an accurate glimpse into the notoriously secretive naturist community in the UK.

 

The sparkling flowed.  Amelia herself sparkled.  Friends and family chatted, we mingled.  Canapes were handed round, photographs were pored over and a lot of fun was had.

 

 

I was trying to keep quiet the fact that it was my ass on the front cover but not being the reticent type, it wasn’t a secret for long and Amelia’s photographer charting the events of the evening took a few choice ones of me messing around with her friends, stylists and publicists.  I’ll probably wish I was more introverted when I see the results!

The preview billed as 7-9pm started to slow down and Amelia got to business signing books.

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I got in on the act of course and will have a good look over my copy later today.  I know a lot of my friends will be attending the clothing-optional viewing this afternoon but sadly I can’t be there.  Mind you, it’s November so I hope the Gallery cranks the heating up.  It’s pretty damn cold out there!

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Shortly after 9pm, Gavin and I started to make our way back to Buckinghamshire.  I tend to wake at dawn so my mission at that stage was to get back home to sleep.

Gavin was a complete star the entire evening.  Weighed down with glasses, phone, battery pack, champers, mingling, photographing, by the end of the evening I think Gavin felt his role had been to act as my PA for the night.  He kindly held my glass on innumerable occasions when I was keen to snap another photo.  It seemed appropriate therefore to take a closing picture of Gavin once we alighted at my local tube station, Chalfont and Latimer, in black and white as a tribute to Amelia’s Naked Britain with Gavin and his lovely wry smile before we parted ways.

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Try and take the exhibition in yourself if you can, it’s well worth the journey.

Manhood, the launch

Last Saturday I attended the launch of Laura Dodsworth’s latest book Manhood with friends, one of whom took part in the project.

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Held at Effraspace, a yoga, pregnancy, birthing and parenting centre owned by Pinter and Martin, Laura’s publishers, we convened in Brixton and made our way over to the venue.  Rows of books lined the bright reception area and owners Martin Wagner and Maria Pinter hosted the evening, juggling wine, nibbles and ultimately book sales and Laura’s signing.

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There were over 100 people in attendance, mostly participants, friends and family.  The atmosphere was joyous.  Martin Wagner introduced Laura and spoke about how Laura had approached them with a view to publishing her previous book Bare Reality. At that stage, they turned her down but the demand was obviously there with Laura raising her target through crowdfunding within 24 hours.  Manhood itself sold out before the launch!

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Bare Reality which I took part in, focused on breasts and how breasts are perceived in society.  Laura interviewed 100 women of varying ages, encompassing different demographics and sexual identification. In my opinion in contemporary society, the dialogue around manhood and masculinity is even more important than how breasts are perceived and often sanctioned, hypersexualised and derided.  Manhood embodies the personal stories of 100 men of varying ages and sexuality, focusing on the penis.

I’ve not dared pore over the stories which I’m so keen to work through because my daughter’s partner took part and Laura addressed my copy to Adam at my request so when I next see him we can trade for his unsigned copy.

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I’m precious about books. I hold them in reverence especially signed copies and first editions so I want to hand him a pristine copy, not one besmirched by my grubby fingers so it’s tantalisingly out of reach, inciting me to open it like the snake in the Garden of Eden but I’ve resisted – to date.

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At least I can show you some pictures from the evening itself which was very much a celebration of manhood and masculinity.

 

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Laura spoke with great presence and tenderness.

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Three poets who’d taken part, gamely spoke infront of the captive audience after Laura’s introduction; Carl Chamberlain, Ernesto Sarezale and Ant Smith.

 

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Ernesto appropriately, who was hilarious and compelling in his rendition, bared his body along with his soul. As naturists we know from a textile perspective, the shock of seeing someone nude dissipates in a matter of seconds.  My friend alongside me was a bit startled initially but soon forgot the fact he was naked.

 

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Laura and some of the Manhood participants have been on a whirlwind of PR since the launch.  Watch out for the reviews as they come in and prepare to be moved by the deeply personal accounts Manhood charts.  Well done Laura and thank you for inspiring the dialogue that will undoubtedly ensue.

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What photographing 100 naked men taught me, Laura Dodsworth The Telegraph  12/6/17

Me and my penis: 100 men reveal all, Laura Dodsworth The Guardian  27/5/17

 

 

Break out the Barbie arms with Nude-ercise

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My first experience of a naked workout today and it was absolutely brilliant!  Helen Smith, a British Naturism member who has featured in a lot of recent press articles about her nude venture, is now running classes in London as well as Southampton.

I help Naturist London with my colleague Karen so women have a female point of contact for the swim and aim to be at the swim monthly, hosting Ladies meet ups. Today we broke with tradition and took part in Helen’s first class between 11:00-12:00am before heading back to Energybase for a swim.

I’ve taken part in a lot of exercise sessions in the past and can say with absolute certainty that you need a reasonable level of fitness to take part.  A mixed group, six men, two women, we warmed up before the fun began and it really was – the time flew!

Nude-ercise has elements of rugby training without the pad work so don’t book in thinking you’re in for an easy ride.  However Helen makes the class light-hearted and she’s encouraging and attentive to the varying fitness levels in the group.

The venue we trained at was clean and functional, affording excellent privacy so there was no chance of lascivious voyeurs drooling over our attempts to emulate Helen’s seemingly effortless stretches.  We chopping and changed under Helen’s direction, working in twos, fours, individually. There was no time to get bored and lots of banter.

Towards the latter part of the class various timed planking challenges were thrown into the mix, culminating in a plank off.  I’d love to say I won with my competitive nature.  I absolutely didn’t but had great fun trying!

As for Barbie, she evidently doesn’t cheat.  To ensure we didn’t slip into to reducing the impact of an exercise we had to make like Barbie.  You’ll have to take part in one of Helen’s classes to break out the Barbie arms.  No clues in the picture below.

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Contact Information

Via Naturist London :          Nude-ercise (including links to recent press articles)

Facebook:                                Nude-ercise  

That’s Solent TV                   Interview with Helen Smith

Picture Credit:                       Solent News and Photo Agency   Twitter: @snapagency

The Great British Skinny Dip #Septembare

To be screened on Valentine’s Day, Channel 4, 10:00pm

Channel 4  Press Release  9 June 2016

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“The Great British Skinny Dip (w/t)

This year British Naturism, Britain’s largest group devoted to the lifestyle, is reaching out to encourage more people to give it a go, challenging British attitudes to nudity along the way. The initiative is the brainchild of the organisation’s Andrew Welch, who is spearheading an event he’s calling “Septembare” when, over a weekend in September, non-naturists (or textiles as they call them) will get the chance to join one of a number of skinny dips that are being planned across Britain.

The documentary will follow the organisation’s attempt to co-opt venues and drum up support, and explore what the appeal is – why a range of people from all walks of life enjoy spending their spare time in the buff and how they manage to do it in a country where the climate doesn’t naturally lend itself.

Naturism is increasingly being sought out online by young people seeking escapism, fun and freedom – choosing to lay themselves bare at a time of increased body consciousness and airbrushing. With access to nudist clubs across the country as well as the wilder activities off the beaten track, this film will lift the lid on the world of naturism, climaxing with the skinny-dip weekend which may or may not bring new converts to the faith.

Production Company: ZKK

Director: Victoria Silver

Executive producer: Kathy O’Neil

Trailer released 9 February 2017   https://youtu.be/PYffmNq-5GA

GBSD:  The Great British Skinny Dip  website & on twitter  @GBSD2017

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Home Alone Naturism / Nudism

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Painting by Mary Bassett @MaryBassettArt

Some people choose to be home alone naturists / nudists whilst others are forced to be out of necessity where public nudity is taboo or frowned upon. On occasions people lack confidence and try nudity in a safe space which allows those first tentative steps.  However even in cultures where public nudity is permitted in principle, England for example, the vagaries of English law mean that cases have been brought against naturists who are nude on their own property or in some instances, in their own houses behind closed doors!

Malcolm Boura spent over a decade working and advising British Naturism as their Campaigns Manager and has extensive knowledge of the law and it’s application to public nudity and through association, naturists.  This page has more information about the organisation’s role in campaigning to preserve the rights of naturists in the UK, including handy downloads with legal guidance for naturists in England and Wales and Scotland.

On a personal level, many naturists/nudists find it hard to enjoy a clothes-free lifestyle in their own homes, whether due to opposition from friends or family or their living circumstances.  I have tenants for example who I get on very well with and whilst it’s no secret I’m a naturist, out of respect to them I choose not to be naturist in my own home. That said, when the weather (rarely) is scorching, I’ve been known to venture outside and sunbathe despite the fact my garden is very overlooked.  It’s a sad admission but were I male I doubt I would since the male nude is somehow considered threatening by many in our culture in art, photography and society in general.

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I received a message recently asking about naturist friendly accommodation in London via Naturist London which made me dwell on my own situation.  At the moment I’m perfectly comfortable not being nude, it’s too damn cold but in the summer when it’s particularly hot, there are times when it can feel a bit restricting having to remain clothed.

One very useful site Naturist Accommodation UK  “is for people who are offering or looking for bed and breakfast, self-catering, lettings, flat or house shares or other accommodation in an environment that enables social nudity or is clothing-optional.”  If you’re on twitter, you can Follow Naturist Accommodation UK  for updates @nacouk.

When I finally retire I’m likely to move and one of my main considerations will be the privacy a garden affords.  Many naturists choose to practice their naturism where they feel comfortable.  The same applies when I’m hiking naked with friends.  It doesn’t take long to get into the wilds and it doesn’t take long to fling some clothes on to save confrontation or test the definitions of alarm or distress.   Here’s the CPS page on nudity in public20150925_1401131

I’ve got five years before my exit strategy kicks in and after that I’m still not sure where life will take me but the requirements might include sunshine as well as the ability to skip around my garden naked.

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A blue-green fantasy comes to life in Hull

In July 2016 3,200 people took part in Spencer Tunick’s art installation the Sea of Hull to celebrate Hull’s rich maritime history and highlight climate change.

Commissioned by Ferens Art Gallery to highlight Hull’s status as the 2017 City of Culture and to whip up a PR storm in advance of the launch, Spencer was in town to create his typically immersive nude art. Participants were body painted on the Saturday and photographed nude for a smaller installation in the wake of the Humber Bridge on Sunday.

Groups were determined randomly according to the registration desk people selected on arrival into B1, B2, B3 and B4, which denoted the respective four body paints.

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I’d travelled to the location with a naturist buddy Rod Currie and we both ended up at the B1 registration desk, a light blue.  To my naked eye B2, B3 and B4 appeared to be increasingly darker hues of green.  Once captured on film, the four colours blended together to create Spencer Tunick’s Ode to the Sea.

With a call time anywhere between 2:30-3:15am the Queens Gardens had never seen so much activity.  Floodlights illuminated the respective meeting points and staff were on hand to dispense the colours.

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Erin, Coral and Rod brandishing their pots of B1

Periodic announcements were made, excitement increased until finally after much anticipation, Spencer himself emerged and spoke to the assembled throng from the top of a ladder.  He introduced his support staff, including Steve who would be central to crowd control (and our amusement) and gave an overview of what he’d planned for the day.

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Spencer instructed us not to smile “it’s too distracting” and asked that we remain impassive, entreating us not to smile for his videographers who were filming events as they unfolded.  For participants, it was obvious from the outset we were submerged in a surreal experience and the sheer scale of the numbers involved, the attendant press and a rogue drone meant all our senses were being challenged, quite apart from adjusting to the sensation of being naked in Hull City Centre in the early hours.


The first challenge for some and highly anticipated but not for old hands like ourselves, was the act of stripping off and daubing ourselves with paint.  Spencer had stressed anyone who wasn’t covered adequately would be pulled out of the frame.  No-one wanted to fall by the wayside. The team whipped us up into frenzy.  ‘Go, you have 3 minutes’ and with that we frantically tried to cover ourselves completely to Spencer’s critical satisfaction. The artist at work can be quite exacting and Spencer didn’t disappoint. He was also mindful of timings, with the centre of Hull being closed off from midnight on Friday 8th July until 10:00am on Saturday 9th July.

Once bodypainted, we were instructed to move on to the Rose Garden.  By now it was probably about 4:15am dark, dank and foreboding.  We filed in to the Rose Garden from Queens Gardens on either side of the park, surveying the bizarre sight of hundreds of people in different hues, moving forwards inexorably.  Once out of the confines of the park into the beauty of the formal planted rose garden, the enormity of what we had signed up for became apparent and the realisation we were about to create a piece of artistic history in Hull.

Spencer Tunick was positioned at the top of the BBC building, surveying the scene.  The attendant press were resplendent on an open top bus adjacent to the Rose Garden.  Once Spencer was satisfied we were sufficiently deep and dense enough, he began to capture his iconic images which will be unveiled next spring at Ferens Art Gallery.

Woe betide the people who were in the shot and not supposed to be. “Get out of MY picture.’  Spencer has a very keen eye, so crouching down behind a wall didn’t spare them either.  “You, over there behind the wall.  I can still see you.”  Spencer’s team, including Steve who seemed to bear the brunt of his exacting demands rushed around coordinating us and errant passers-by, walkie talkies in hand.

Mindful we had to remain impassive and revelling in the scale and solidarity of such a large group and my  B1 identity, my mind was whirring as I drank it all in.  I was an alien and Spencer was a usurper who we were wordlessly watching and monitoring.  Far from smiling, I spent the entire day giving Spencer the ‘evils’ although he wouldn’t have seen me, I was a drop in the ocean.  He’d told us earlier to be happy in our minds when we were experiencing the day.  Mine was a funny sort of happy, it was a totally immersive alternate reality for a few hours and not one that everyone would want to share but others had their own reality.

In total we were positioned into seven scenes.  I was lucky enough to be in all seven although there was some discomfort involved and we certainly had to endure low temperatures.  So much for the British summer!

I’ve been a public naturist since 2011 and spend most of my weekends at naked events and taking part in naturist activities but I don’t strip off if the weather is adverse or unseasonal.  On this Saturday however, those of us who took part in all seven scenes were naked from about 4:00-8:30am and it was both adverse and unseasonal.  The things we do for art!

My favourite scene was one where we were laying on the floor of a main thoroughfare in Hull.  What a beautiful city!  My eyes lit up at the historic architecture as we left the Rose Garden and I chatted to local participants to learn more. Meanwhile the attendant press trailed after us in their open top bus where they could gain access and the crowd, which had a festival–like feel to it from the outset, called out and waved to the cameras gamely.

Spencer tended to take one picture with us facing towards him, then one rear-facing picture.  Steve soon got in on the act.  ‘Steve’, said Spencer irritably when things weren’t moving fast enough for his liking or we Brits didn’t understand his instructions;  ‘Get on the sidewalk. Get on the sidewalk!’  Some would have known what a sidewalk was but as a group we stood stoically awaiting instructions in Queen’s English.  Once corrected and pavement was uttered, we duly moved.

One wag in the crowd picked up the exasperated Steeeve cry and that was it, we spent the rest of the time chanting Steve when Spencer mentioned his name, rather like a football chant with much hilarity.  “Who is Steve anyway?” I asked at one point.  “Does it matter?” Said Rod.  Moot point, not really no.

By now, about 5:15am I’d estimate with the battle bus in the distance and Spencer on a cherry picker, Spencer moved his droplets into place and decreed we lie down.  An incredulous “lie down?” went around the crowd like a Mexican wave, akin to the sigh which was involuntarily released when a few droplets of rain came down as we stood rear facing in the Rose Garden.

We lay down.  ‘Extend your legs.’  We extended our legs. ‘Extend your arms, even if it means you’re touching someone else.’  We extended our arms.  I was laying the other side of steel railings.  Positioning myself in my best life modelling pose, I snaked my hand out over the steel railing towards another blue-green alien and we lay waiting for Spencer to take his pictures.  ‘Another 30 seconds,’ said Spencer at one point.  Another 30 seconds went and we waited and waited, not daring to move lest we ruin the shot.  It was cold, it certainly wasn’t comfortable and it certainly wasn’t 30 seconds.

All intermingled, we were now separated into our colour groupings.  My B1 group watched and waited patiently while the B2, B3 and B4 were marched around.  I wondered at the time whether they were hyperlapsing the action.  I’m such a social media geek at times. I was correct though.

B1 was led down a narrow street and Spencer took another shot.  More nude-on-floor action. More groans. I lay in another one of my imaginary stunning life model poses, trying to disregard the cigarette butts which were in my eyeline.  It wasn’t much earlier people would have been spilling out of the nightclubs, bars and restaurants of the city.  Just imagine if you turned a corner and came across a Spencer Tunick tableau after a night out on the town, you really would think aliens had invaded!

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After this, directed and posed, we were all brought back together again and Spencer told us to mix the colours up. To once again be swirling around B2s, B3s and B4s was fascinating after probably 90 minutes of solely being with B1s. It’s amazing how quickly a situation becomes the norm.  I felt we were a tribe in our own right and the other colours were different tribes. In my mind, we danced around each other, fascinating in our differences and intrigued but also innately knowing the other tribes meant no harm.

The participants were like a representation of life in general, with different ages, body shapes, nationalities, mental and physical illness/disabilities. Spencer, perhaps not used to British sensibilities and political correctness blithely said in one of his interviews, that there were lots of old people there, disabled people, people with bandages and it was like being in the aftermath of a blue war zone.

As we lined up for the penultimate group shoot, Spencer again astride a cherry picker in his irascible way was goading Steve and we him with our chanting. If he was irritated by it he gave no sign and broke out into a smile when the crowd poked fun at his innocent ‘Fill the hole, fill the hole’ entreaty.  I was amused too by how Spencer lined his shots up.  Once in place he produced something from his pocket and peered through it at the crowd, rather like a ships Captain looking though a spyglass.

Leaving Hull’s retail area we trailed over to the final set up, the bitterly cold Scale Lane footbridge.  Only 600 people were able to participate in this Scene because of the weight restrictions.  I was ‘lucky’ enough to get on, although it wasn’t long before we all doubted the wisdom of our enthusiasm.  It was bitterly cold, the wind searing into our joints and stabbing our souls.  It might have been Steve (still not knowing his exact identity) who had Spencer in one ear and us in his eye line.  ‘Please’ he implored, ‘fill the space,’ indicating the centre of the Bridge.  ‘He won’t take the picture until he’s happy.  Do it for Steve.”  Those magic words.  We complied, although not without demurring, it was painful underfoot because of the shingle.

This time the press pack were ensconced in the Travel Lodge opposite, along with Spencer who made his wishes known in his customarily terse style.  ‘Get out of my shot’ he barked to some bystanders who were alongside in high viz jackets.  By now, time and discomfort was taking its toll and one lady fainted.  Once finished, we filed off slowly, far too slowly. The lucky ones got boiler suits and flip-flops to help raise their temperatures.  Rod and I were on the upper deck so missed out but we were still buoyed up by the whole experience.

We made our way back to Queens Gardens, past the town house where earlier millennials had been watching us with great hilarity and videoing our slow procession towards the Bridge.  The garden which not long before was littered in clothes and people, reverted to archetype.  Were it not for trails of blue and green paint demarking our progress around Hull, you could be forgiven for thinking it was all a big blue-green dream.

Would I do it again?  You bet!

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