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Spencer Tunick does Manchester, Lowry Style - And I Got Naked For Him - Catherine [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Catherine B

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Spencer Tunick does Manchester, Lowry Style - And I Got Naked For Him [May. 1st, 2010|03:34 pm]
Catherine B
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Twelve hours ago I was introducing myself to two seasoned nudists and listening to tales of naked cruises and an American who has posed nude in every state except for Arkansas. A queue of people snaked around the Lowry Theatre in Salford, a clothed army waiting to take their clothes off all in the name of art.

If somebody had told me six months ago that I would be amongst 1000 volunteers walking around Manchester and Salford completely starkers, I would not only not have believed them, but my skin would crawl by the very thought of exposing my body in such an exhibitionistic way - it would have been incomprehendible. I, however, am never one to shy away from a challenge and I always try to follow my gut feelings, so when a couple of months back I heard that Spencer Tunick would be in my city reinterpreting the works of L.S.Lowry for an installation named 'Everyday People' and something in side of me felt a pang of excitement at the prospect, I signed up - like a lamb to the slaughter.

I am not a prude, but I have always found the concept of naturalism quite difficult to understand. I imagined that only those who were 100% comfortable with their bodies would ever be able to whip everything out and display it to the world. My boyfriend has a more lax attitude and spent his youth holidaying at a nudist camp in the South of France (I didn't believe him at first but now I have seen photographic evidence). We have toyed with the idea of reliving those old days on our own, but still my skin crawled at the thought of other people seeing me, all me, no hiding behind baggy shirts and thick-rimmed Ray Bans. I have often felt jealous of those people who do have the confidence to be as natural as is humanly possible, but I never, ever thought that I would join them.

3:45am and we finally got inside, grasping as much warmth as we could before an emergency toilet trip and being ushered onto one of a fleet of coaches and double decker buses. There were glimpses of lightness through the black sky but it was still difficult to see where we were going (all locations were top secret) as we headed off towards the ring road. The atmosphere was friendly, the kind of friendly you feel at a vegan supermarket or a small, intense gig with a band only a select few know and love - a joint understanding of something a little inexplicable that could be communicated just through a certain look or mannerism. I felt comforted that there was a nice blend of experienced and non-experienced 'I don't quite know why I'm here' nudists. The nerves that I had felt all evening dissipated and soon, I was running naked down a bank of grass and into a field - just as the first commuter train passed by.

Instructions were yelled out by Spencer over a megaphone. We did as we were told, obedient naked robots replicating movements and stances of Lowry's stick men (and women). From the second we started, I felt no sense of embarassment, shame, self-disgust or anything vaguely negative - it is strange how experience can give such a different perspective than pre-judgement, the opposite in fact. Surreal is the closest word I can get to describing how it felt to be one in five hundred bodies. I was not posing for the camera, but for the concept behind the installations, 'Everyday People' - that is what we were, just normal people but stripped down. No inhibitions. Magic.

By now it was light and we were led down a few backstreets, under some cobbles and past an old Ragged School, disturbing a homeless old man who, by the look on his face, thought that all his christmasses had come at once AND he had died and gone to heaven. Poor guy, I bet his friends won't believe him - is Special Brew a hallocinogenic? He gave us a song and dance and we tried our best to wipe the smirks off our faces whilst slowly walking around trying to look ahead without treading on either needles or glass. My feet hurt now, there has to be a foreign body of some sort in there. By now, nakedness felt normal. Only the cold was making me feel uncomfortable, but by the looks of certain nipples and willies, everyone was in the same freezing cold boat. You have never appreciated a sweated up, heated double decker bus as much as I did last night.

The last location - Salford University, students replaced by flesh, speckled with goosebumps and increasingly purple hands and feet. The press had caught on and The Lowry 'Twitterer' commented that there were more press than there were at the leaders' debate. It certainly felt like it. A part of me wanted to get angry and curse them for invading our artsy privacy, but in the course of a few hours, I learnt a new skill which I think may prove to be invaluable - that, "what the hell? I don't care!" attitude. I'm naked... so what? Shrug. This isn't me! I kept thinking to myself as I wandered around the park trying to stick to the sunny bits in a vain attempt to feel slightly warm. But it was, it is, and for perhaps the first time in my life, in amongst all the other naked bodies, regardless of the papps' dodgy zoom lenses, I felt comfortable in my own skin.

We all have our flaws. Nobody is perfect, there is no such thing. The most beautiful thing about the whole experience was the fact that we were all fully aware of that. It was a mass gesture against airbrushing and falsities and vanity, and it felt bloody brilliant. Now, I may be starting to sound like I'm going to be coverted to a life of naturism and spend my time meditating and going braless and becoming a fruitarian, plaiting my hair and wearing hippy skirts. That isn't me at all. This has not changed me on the outside, but it has certainly changed something. The way I feel about myself and about others. Who can judge?


'Everyday People' opens at The Lowry in Salford Sat June 12th - Sun 26th September

www.thelowry.com/events/everyday-people/home

www.spencertunick.com


linkReply

Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 03:00 pm (UTC)

Everyday People

Thanks for that.

My wife and I are due to participate tomorrow and we are a little bit apprehensive after seeing the sneaky Rex Features shots.

Not 100% decided now but your experience is very encouraging.

M & D
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 03:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Everyday People

I highly suggest that you just take a deep breath and go for it - I would have regretted it if I'd pulled out. Ignore the papps, just have fun!
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[User Picture]From: cryintherain
2010-05-01 03:15 pm (UTC)
This is so cool, sounds like it was a great experience, i am so glad for you :). xxx
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-05 05:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks, it was amazing!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 03:25 pm (UTC)

spencer

Hello and well done Im going tommorrow just wondering what time you started to wait to get a place???
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-05 05:48 pm (UTC)

Re: spencer

Hope you got there on time?
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 03:39 pm (UTC)

I totally agree

No one was more apprehensive than me but I'm so glad I got the opportunity and kept my nerve. Once everyone was naked it became the most natural exhilarating experience. If you have the change, take it!
If you've never tried anything like this before please read this acticale in full before making judgment. It is a so much more natural state than the airbushed media fueled life we take without question.
Thankyou Catherine for encapsulating the day so succinctly.
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:03 am (UTC)

Re: I totally agree

This made me smile, thank you
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From: ext_233317
2010-05-01 05:03 pm (UTC)

Hmmmmm, the paps....

It's 18.01, I'm debating getting some sleep and then getting up for tonight's shoot but remain undecided! I don't mind being papped by Spencer but random press?! You do make it sound like a great experience though, quite unique, thanks for blogging it :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 05:27 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmmmmm, the paps....

Don't think about it, they were only there at the last shoot. I suppect (but don't know ) that there won't be as many (if any) tomorrow. You'll kick yorself if you miss it.
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:04 am (UTC)

Re: Hmmmmm, the paps....

The pap photos all seemed to fit in with the spirit - no zoom lenses!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 06:04 pm (UTC)
To those signed up but are unsure whether to follow through: just DO IT! I did it last night and it was a great experience- really natural and incredibly friendly. Inhibitions fade away when 500 other people start undressing around you! It's actually quite liberating (and I don't do this sort of thing usually).

Pretty sure there won't be many/any press there for tonight's shoot as well, they'll have had their filll last night. Advise you to turn up quite early though (2/2.30).

Hope you enjoy it!
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[User Picture]From: purple_t100
2010-05-01 08:11 pm (UTC)
Forget the doubts and just go for it. It's a great thing to be a part of. I'm a life model so nudity is second nature, but this was very different, and so worth doing!!

Thanks for the blog Catherine. You put it across really well :-)
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:05 am (UTC)
I wouldn't mind trying life modelling actually!
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[User Picture]From: purple_t100
2010-05-11 08:21 pm (UTC)
Maybe you should then. Try looking for local art groups or see if the council does evening classes. It's a lot harder to do than people think, but it's very worthwhile, and interesting to see how others see you. I love it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-24 06:49 pm (UTC)

Life Modelling

I've been a naturist for about forty years and it has never been a problem - a couple of years ago I undertook to pose for a lady artist I knew only slightly and found that it is a whole new ball game.

When you are nude in a nudist environment you a lost in a crowd but when you pose as a model you are under intense individual scrutiny and that is very different and very personal. Obviously if you get your head around it the situation eventually becomes natural but it might take a while.

Using the argument that everything should be tried, provided that it is legal and doesn't scare the horses I would say 'Go for it'.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 08:12 pm (UTC)

Spencer Tunick comes to Manchester ( well Salford)

Exhausted but smugly high from taking part in this morning's installation. Am so pleased I plucked up the courage and "dis-robed" (Organiser's speak for get yer kit off) It was a fantastic experience; everyone was really friendly and, whilst I agree it was well surreal it was weirdly unembarassing. A great leveller. If you're contemplating doing it tomorrow, set that alarm and go for it! ( Oh and recommend you take a flask of tea and some munchies...)
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:05 am (UTC)

Re: Spencer Tunick comes to Manchester ( well Salford)

Ahh, tea would have been lovely!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-01 08:46 pm (UTC)
I did the shoot last night too and found it exactly as Catherine has described. I was apprehensive as I hadn't done anything like this before but once the first strip was out of the way, I was surprised how ordinary it felt. I didn't feel self-conscious at all with so many others being naked too. The tramp was a laugh ("Got any spare change!") but the last shoot was a bit of chore as the cold, waiting around and lack of sleep had worn me down but it was still exhilarating and enlightening and I don't regret it at all. If you arrive at the Lowry to queue early (I was there at 00.30 with queue numbers about 100), take a wrap to keep you warm. Go to the loo at the Lowry or you'll be queuing at a Portaloo. Everyone gets issued with the same blue bag to put their stuff into so it might be a good idea to take something to tie to the handle so you can find your bag easily after shoots.
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[User Picture]From: rcoss2001
2010-05-01 11:18 pm (UTC)

Sites For Those Whoe Have Participated

Good for you catherineib!
You might be interested in our groups, http://www.thespencertunickexperience.org and http://www.spencertunickforum.org
I've posed for Spencer a few times and our sites are for those of us who pose, or those just wanting to learn more about Spencer's art. We have lots of new members due to these events and the recent Australia installation.
Roger
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[User Picture]From: britishnaturism
2010-05-02 02:23 am (UTC)

Well done!

Brilliant Catherine, well done and welcome to our world.

"it is strange how experience can give such a different perspective than pre-judgement, the opposite in fact."

Absolutely! We suffer from people's pre-judgement all the time. But may favourite bit is when you say:

"I learnt a new skill which I think may prove to be invaluable - that, "what the hell? I don't care!" attitude. I'm naked... so what? Shrug. This isn't me!...But it was, it is, and for perhaps the first time in my life, in amongst all the other naked bodies, ... I felt comfortable in my own skin."

It will prove invaluable. I just wish more people could have the experience you have just had - it is what naturism is all about. Do re-live your boyfriend's youth - you'll never regret it. Best of luck!
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:09 am (UTC)

Re: Well done!

Thank you!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-02 06:03 pm (UTC)

Not what people think

I did the event on Saturday morning too and had the same reservations and nerves that you had. However I knew I would regret it if I didn't do it. I am really glad to have done it.
It was strange being naked in front of so many people you just became another body and didn't feel conspicuous. The last shot with the press there did make me feel vunerable but on the whole the pictures in the papers have been fair. Shame about the comments though. Contrary to popular belief from people who were not there, it was not full of exhibitionists (most people like me were nervous) or perverts. It was as Everyday People.
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:09 am (UTC)

Re: Not what people think

As I said, you cannot judge if you haven't taken part - ignore the comments! x
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[User Picture]From: shingonline
2010-05-02 11:19 pm (UTC)
I was there on the Saturday also! It was very cold but very liberating and awesome! Just wish there was a way to experience it more often.

Nice write-up also!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-03 07:29 pm (UTC)

Funny, that...

I did the Sunday morning shoot and had the opposite experience from Catherine re nervousness, i.e. no one seemed to be the remotest bit nervous from the word go! I expected a bit of trepidation at the first shoot (at Castlefield), but in fact, a bit of a cheer went up when he finally told us to get naked. (Maybe it's because we'd been hanging around so long, while they figured out where to park the buses!) Yes, some people said there was glass on the cobbles at that shoot, as well.

Other things that came to mind:

- I thought there'd be a lot of loudmouthed exhibitionists there. In fact, most of us were very regular people. I couldn't spot any 'common denominator' that would mark us out as potential Spencer Tunick models (though presumably, we make up a tiny minority of the population)
- Quite a few elaborate tattoos in evidence
- Good age range - quite a few students, middle-aged - maybe more people there of retirement age, but he did do one shoot for over-60s only, and one at Concorde for over-45s
- Hardly any black people in among the mix. Only about five, I think, out of 500
- For the one staged in front of a gasometer, he had us grouped into tight clusters of about 30 people each, all walking. Didn't really understand this one - I don't think he's done this before, and Lowry certainly didn't do it.
- I'll also be interested to see the Concorde one, as he didn't photograph Concorde at all - we were all parked underneath one of the wings, which couldn't have been in the shot much, as he was doing mostly close-ups of us
- The others were at the Lowry itself, and on the two double-decker buses. All the women stood in the bus windows, so you could see only their bodies, from the neck to above the knee. The buses had the slogan 'Travel with Courtesy', and some people said it'd make a great ad for the company...
- One chap at the Lowry installation was physically removed from the front and put to the back - apparently because he had such a good tan! Bizarre, but maybe there was some other reason too.
- The guy who let out a massive fart at the same installation got off scot free, despite annoying Spencer ('Don't look at me! Don't look at me! Don't smile! Ready! *FART* Oh Jesus')
- Oddly, Spencer's a lousy public speaker. He got up to talk to us at 6.35, while we were waiting to start at 7.00, and had to step down after a couple of minutes as he couldn't think of anything to say! 'Thanks for coming' or 'You're the best crowd I've ever had' would've been a start!
- Jon, the producer, did tell me we were a good crowd, and the worst he'd ever had was a bunch of nudists in New Jersey (maybe the real professionals wouldn't take direction!)
- Just looking at this pic (taken from an apartment overlooking the Lowry), these images are going to be a LOT different from Spencer's usual stuff. When people are actually doing something (i.e. walking), it's hard not to get an idea of their individuality: http://trunc.it/7p5s6/orig
- I'm not in the above, by the way!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-03 11:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Funny, that...

I was there on Sunday as well and really enjoyed the whole experience, I have to agree with the post about Spencer's public speaking. His ability to direct at times were quite funny, I want you all in a line but no indication of the direction. The continual "Do not look at me" and then "move in this direction" or "Can we have some people on the steps of Concorde" as it filled the announcement "only people over 60".

I thought the Lowry organisation, police and atmosphere at the event excellent.

I do wonder about the last shoot with the double deckers being a female only to be more like a 1970's car manufacturer calendar than a piece of art, but I shall wait and see.
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:10 am (UTC)
It would be nice to do it more often, but also I felt it was a real 'once in a lifetime' thing.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-05 11:34 pm (UTC)

Lowry Installation

I was part of the Sunday installation. I have never done anything like this before. It was an extraordinary experience and one perhaps I'd like to repeat in the future should Spencer return to the UK. I have no regrets at all and once I'm recognised, as no doubt I will be when the exhibition opens, I'll hold my head up high and proud.
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[User Picture]From: screamingsleep
2010-05-06 01:51 am (UTC)
hey if you're wondering who I am, I added you from LB I'm luvmealways on there;)
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[User Picture]From: catherineib
2010-05-11 11:02 am (UTC)
Oh, hi!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-19 06:40 pm (UTC)

Spencer

Super blog. Some great comments about Spencer's poor communication. But it was a great day overall despite one or two problems like glass on the bridge.

http://bit.ly/spencerlowry
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-26 04:35 pm (UTC)

Порно

Порно (http://megafreeporn.ru/)
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