Saturday, 13 August 2011

Dean Chalkley/Photographer

This week’s TT Test is taken by Essex-born photographer Dean Chalkey whose vibrant work ranging from famous musicians to youth subculture will no doubt be familiar to you. Dean’s website is full of great photos & short films from his exciting career so please check it out [link] !! He also finds time to host two great club nights a week .His answers are fascinating & contain some addresses in London that make me feel like I’m in a Julian Maclaren-Ross novel ! What is your wake up song at the moment ? ... the one that springs up like a motivational soundtrack when walking to the tube in the mornings is 'Turning My Heartbeat Up' by The M.V.P.S. It is a record that is just so up lifting… and dynamic... it really is magic! Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession? I went to a lecture by Richard Avedon at the National Theatre in May 1995, it was such an incredible moment. Avedon was energized bouncing around the stage not your usual 72 year old man, his nervous energy charging the room. Here before a packed auditorium this legend of Photography gave a wonderful insight to his work, life and influences… it was the whole collection of these things that made the most impression on me… How he was immersed in it all... It was HIM. I have always loved Avedon's work and still do to this day. He is transcendent with work that crossed the boundaries of social document and fashion. Although at times he chose to flatter often his camera would be incisive and cut straight to the soul of the people he photographed, avoiding the 'mask' or publicly projected facade of his famous subjects. If you could travel back in time, which period would you most like to visit and why? I live very much in the ‘now’, however I think it would have been great to roam the streets of Soho in the late 1950's and early 1960's this was the time when the Modernist or as it was later abbreviated Mod culture was growing up, to go to the Flamingo club's all-nighters or the archetypal Mod hang out the Scene Club would have been great. I think this was a period that was very expansive in all art forms though; it really seems like the moment when the gearshifts of culture went into overdrive... I love eating out and discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me? I like coming across places that offer something interesting even if it is more the atmosphere etc. So my top recommendation to you is this great little place I've found… it ‘s called The Soho Secret Tearoom [link] upstairs above the Coach and Horses pub on the south side of Greek street. The Coach and Horses has a great history... the famous play 'Jeffrey Bernard is feeling unwell' was based around this bar, originally staring Peter O’Toole. (About a month ago I was standing in the bar and Peter O’Toole actually came down the stairs from the Tearoom he had been interviewed there for an editorial. Wow it was as if royalty was in the place...). The now sadly deceased Norman Bilon was one of Soho’s big characters and would often shout at people that stepped out of line in his drinking establishment publican (reputed to be the rudest Landlord in London).. He had a fierce reputation… It’s also where Private Eye magazine have their weekly meeting editorial meeting... Anyway the Tearooms are upstairs .. Call the Pub in advance to reserve a table or ask the barman / lady if its possible to go up and dine. Assuming its ok you are invited through the bar counter and led upstairs the creaky narrow stairs then you enter the Tearooms. Lovely tablecloths and bone china, the record player in the corner has sounds from the 40s or sometimes it is quiet..It feels like a portal to another time and place, far removed from the Pub environment actually. A very particular atmosphere… The floor is wood creaky and slopping but perfect. They have a great selection of teas including my favourite the very pungent 'White Monkey’, from 3pm til 6 pm it is the Tearoom and then it is a Restaurant in the evening... There is no real change to be honest apart from the food on offer, less tea and cakes and heartier but honestly Meal selections. Its a great place and one of the windows looks out towards Ketners big blue neon sign, if its dark outside and you are sitting in the tearoom it is really like being in a film set of say. ‘Absolute Beginners’. What is the best advice you ever been given relating to your professional/ creative life? ... photographer Brian griffin told me to try to do at least one great piece of work every year, of course every thing I do I endeavour to make great, but what he meant was make one body of work stand out as your signature...I think this is a good bit of advice.... I really enjoyed your new short film 'Young Souls [link] the music, dancing & look of the film is wonderful. I know that as young man you identified yourself as a Mod & the aesthetics & music of that culture have shaped you so it's not so surprising that you made this film. So I was really intrigued to see another of your films ' Serge ' which is about a body builder! What inspired that & is there any connection between the two films? I'm glad you liked the film, it spins around the world of Northern Soul a culture of rare soul that has a very danceable beat. The scene has been in the public consciousness for many years and yet remained to a large extent an enigma to most outside of the scene. There is a connection between the two films, quite simply the passion and the dedication that individuals exercise in order to follow their hearts. The 'Serge' film is accompanied by a haunting piece of music, 'odi et amo' by Johann Johannsson, based on an ancient poem by Catullus. The Poem is recited in the piece essence it proclaims... I love I hate why do I do you ask… It’s tearing me apart... I think this says so much about our inner drive passion and need to create in whichever way we chose... whether in the gym sculpting our bodies or on the dance floor. However, we choose in order to follow our passion it takes heart.