The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Bald, Bold and Covered in Paint

"How about a nude model, covered in paint, sitting among the cushions or fabrics?"

Nearly 3 years ago I did my first photo shoot with textile designer, Morag MacPherson (see Kimonos, Boudoir and Breakfast for Lunch...), when I photographed two models wearing kimonos on a bed with cushions where the patterns of the clothes and cushions had been designed by Morag.

The following year, Morag was involved in painting a large, abstract mural on the side of a barn, so we decided to do a photo shoot of a couple of models wearing outfits with her designs with the mural as a backdrop (see Photo shoot at the Rural Mural)

Last year we were looking for a new idea.

When Morag was involved in the 'Rural Mural project', she went on a workshop with artist, Annie Peel. Not only did it help her to create on a scale much larger than anything she had done to date, but it initiated a fundamental change in her approach to design.

Previously Morag's designs were based around small, repeated patterns. But now she found herself exploring bold streaks and dripping paint. It wasn't long before the previous photo shoots we'd done no longer properly reflected her style. Hence the desire for a new shoot. However, we didn't just want to repeat what we'd done before.

The first time, we photographed models wearing her designs. Then we photographed models against a painted wall she had designed. So what if this time she painted the actual model?

The idea floated about for a few weeks, then one day in my Facebook feed I noticed Zoe – a photography student I knew – had shaved her head to raise money and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support.

I contacted Morag. "What about a bald model?"

I contacted Zoe. "How would you feel about being painted, nude, by a textile designer, and photographed?"

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

Of course no matter how interesting the idea there are then all the practical considerations, like where we were going to do the shoot, keeping the place warm enough for a nude model in October, what kind of paint we could use, and how Zoe was to get clean afterwards.

Most of this was solved when Morag got back in touch with Annie Peel. The 2 of us went out to see her, explained our idea, and Annie very kindly offered us the use of one of her work spaces attached to the side of her house. She said she was going to be repainting it quite soon, so she didn't mind if it got a bit splattered. She also supplied us with a portable gas heater, and just across the courtyard she had a shower room Zoe could use too.

For paint we eventually settled on the idea of using poster paint, like you get in school. It was cheap, plentiful, and relatively easy to wash off. A couple of weeks before the shoot, Zoe painted some on her arm and left it for a few hours to check she wouldn't get any kind of allergic reaction to it.

On the day of the shoot, Zoe's partner, Hannah, came along for support, and Kelly, a fellow photography student from the college videoed it for us (see end of post).

I photographed the process of Zoe being painted – from first tentative splashes, through the building up of layers, through until she was coated head to foot. Here are a selection of my favourites:

We then moved her into another corner of the workspace where we set up Morag's cushions on chairs and a stepladder, and I photographed Zoe standing among them.

Throughout the whole shoot there was a real buzz and energy flowing, and Zoe was just fantastic at giving off an aura of unapologetic power and attitude.

There are some artists I know who like to be the only creative person in the room, but for me, working with other creatives is one of the most exciting things you can do. If you can park your ego outside the door, then through collaborations you get to go to places you would never experience on your own.

For those of you who have read all the way to the end of this blog post, here's a behind-the-scenes video as a reward!



daisyfae said...

Glorious experience! Your model is fabulous - as are these photographs!

Kim Ayres said...

Many thanks Daisyfae :)

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