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Bolton Little Theatre, 15 December 2012

24 December 2012

I first met Ian Hinde over glasses of red wine after a group life drawing event at the Storey Gallery, Lancaster in July. Ian was present as an artist while I had been posing alongside with ten other models. During post-event drinks we talked about past works and planned projects. At that stage Ian was conceptualising a filmed piece that would centre on rhythmic movements of geometrically arranged nude bodies. It sounded interesting, so I volunteered my services for when the project got off the ground.

In early November Ian emailed to say he was hopeful filming could take place in mid-December. I confirmed I was still in and booked myself a cheap return train ticket from Essex to Bolton. It would mean a very early start to the day for me, of course, which was not a problem until an annual Christmas night out with friends was set for the night before. In a moment of forgetfulness I’d even suggested the date myself, and then paled afterwards when I realised I had to be on a train at 04:44 the next day.

Against all odds I felt reasonably alert when I stepped out at Bolton station on that cold damp mid-December morning under dirty skies. I had time on my hands so I took in a little of what the town has to offer – full marks for an excellent fresh produce market – before making the short walk to our filming venue. At first I doubted my directional skills as I seemed to be leaving the busy urban centre and entering a backwater of garages and workshops, yet suddenly there it was: the vivid scarlet façade of Bolton Little Theatre.

bolton-little-theatre

I arrived just as Ian and Nick – another model friend from the Storey and Ghost Bird – were unpacking Ian’s car. Inside, Ian had already secured his camera to the lighting rigs above the theatre stage. A touch of the surreal was added by the stage itself, still dressed for a production of Jack the Ripper. Food for lunch was piled up on a table in the wings, and all the while other volunteer participants were arriving. It was a pleasure to see among them Peter from Everyday People, Existere and Mud Circles, and Mo from Ghost Bird. By the time all were present we numbered 13.

Ian gave us an outline briefing, and then we withdrew to our changing rooms to undress. The plan was to coordinate short bursts of simple movements, to be filmed separately such that they could later be edited and looped into an elegant ensemble of forms and actions. We started in a tight standing group, slowly shuffling, turning and interweaving. It reminded me somewhat of emperor penguins in Antarctica, albeit sufficiently warmer. We then lay on the floor side by side, rippling and rolling. Next we changed to a circle, feet together, bodies rising and falling. And so on and on, in various other patterns filmed from above and from one side over 3-4 hours with a break for refreshments.

This was only my second filmed work, the previous being Adam James’s Mud Circles in February. Like Adam, Ian was a considerate organiser with a clear vision for his art. Now he has the challenge of turning his raw footage of raw forms into a finished piece of art that adequately translates his conception. It will be fascinating to see what he creates.

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