Days later and we still have no new leader. The old Labour one remains in place, despite being beaten by the Conservatives. We have what is called a hung parliament. Better blogs than this one will be able to explain what that means.
However, my intensive photographic research has revealed that in areas of Britain with excessive hedgerows, Labour does not do very well. Fact.
Everyday People is Spencer Tunick’s latest art endeavour, commissioned by Salford’s The Lowry.*
The Lowry asked Tunick to merge his artistic style – photographing hundreds of nude people in public places – with LS Lowry’s own distinctive paintings.
The result was two days photography, beginning at 3.30am, 500 people each time, eight locations in total and dozens of images and film of people with no clothes on facing the camera, not facing the camera and bending over.
Impressed so far?
Well, you’ll be even more impressed when I tell you I was there as a naked participant on day two. But there are one or two issues which need ironing out about the Spencer Tunick gig.
Firstly, making art is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Spencer’s emails about the event and the attendance of the nude people insinuated that if you didn’t arrive at The Lowry a considerable time earlier that the 3.30am registration opening time you would not make the crucial first 500. In the event on Sunday, May 2, less than 300 turned up. A lot of people spent a lot of time queuing in darkness for no reason.
Broken glass was not swept up at the Castlefield site prior to the naked invasion. At least one person required medical treatment after cutting his foot.
None of the New Yorker’s flyers detailing the plans for the Lowry installation reached participants on the buses as planned. Emails with similar details were also not sent out. Cue, an embarrassing exchange between him and his staff.
Then there were the bad journies. Several buses – including mine - were forced to take the long way round Manchester and perform a traffic-clogging reversal because their double-deckedness wouldn’t permit them to go under a low bridge.
But second, and perhaps more importantly, is Spencer’s attitude.
Rarely raising a smile, distant and disconnected, short of patience and stroppy. Was this a genius in action or a miserable git who struck lucky with a great idea?
He gruffly barked orders to his dozen staff at the four venues – Castlefield, The Lowry, Concorde at Manchester Airport (with no discernable link to Lowry) and the gas cooling tower near Sport City. Some of his minions didn’t like it, some answered back.
Best of all, he regularly megaphoned his 300-odd volunteers curt message to hurry with impressive impatience. This included a laughable dictum to hurry up despite us being shuffled around by right-hand man John and his staff on an acutely painful imitation cut-glass gravel surface. It was 10am on the final shoot of the morning. No-one was in the mood for his mannerless manner by now.
‘Don’t look at me! Don’t look at me!’ he catchphrased repeatedly. It was as if someone was slowly twisting his testicles as he manically shouted. It was us whose googlies were being gripped by the frozen claws of a Manchester gale.
Brutally, a man labelled ‘too tanned’ was ushered out of shot after John was told ‘Get him to the back, get him away.’
‘Stop smiling. Stop smiling!’ he bellowed just as frequently. I’m very appreciative of work Spencer Tunick does and of the pressure he must have been under. But it was impossible to warm to him as he displayed deficiencies in both emotional intelligence and communication. He dismissed requests to be photographed by participants with contempt.
While standing on the balcony inside The Lowry at 6.37am to inform us what would happen for that particular shoot, Spencer slipped mid-sentence into a vacant stare across to foyer. It was a seminal moment as 300 faces stared attentively upwards waiting patiently for the rest of his sentence. It never came. He wandered off.
By the time he was halfway through a bonus set of images at 10.30am, consisting of every women from the shoot pressing their naked bodies against the windows of two double-decker buses, the male contingent had grown cynical. ‘Don’t look at me’, shouted one bystander as others laughed as Spencer meticulously arranged bodies by banging on windows and shouting down his megaphone.
There’s little remarkable about Spencer and his ill-fitting saggy jeans or his tiny medium-format Pentax camera. But the effort he puts into his installations and the images he produces from them are remarkable. When I saw the images he did around Newcastle I was blown away. I wished I was in them. Now I am.
I love the fact I took part in such a major piece of art creation. It was great to snapped rather than be the snapper. The pain - of getting up at 2am and from the biting cold – is long gone. And I would do it again, it’s great to feel part of such a unique art event. But why did I not feel liberated?
I drove home after eight hours in Manchester feeling a little lacking in something. Perhaps missing was the spark of excitement I should have got from standing next to 300 naked bodies.
Or perhaps what was lacking was a sliver of warmth and charm from Spencer himself, something to give the event a subtle twist of great. Sadly, the only twisting came not from the 300 freezing bodies but from the man himself.
PICTURED: Spencer Tunick himself at the Sport City car park. No artists were harmed in the taking of this image.