Sid at 71

9,697,800 people in the UK are aged 65 and over.
2.5 million pensioners (over 1 in 5) live below the poverty line.
9%  of people aged 65 and over in the UK feel they are cut off from society.
12% of older people feel trapped in their own homes.

(Statistics from various government sources – all to be found on the Help the Aged website)

If you read the above statistics published by the charity Help the Aged, the impression that we get of becoming older is that it is a negative experience.  Pensioners are poor, isolated, trapped, discriminated against.  Whilst there is no doubt that this is the experience of some, it is not that of all.

Look again at the statistics:  if 1 in 5 live below the poverty line, then 4 do not.
If 9% feel cut off from society, 91% do not.

This 91% might as well be invisible as far as the media is concerned; they are ignored rather than celebrated.

Sid is 71 and one of the 91%.  He is part of the invisible majority  A retired engineer (a toolmaker to be precise), he also served in the RAF reserves, did a stint as a commercial photographer, and for fifty years has been a committed naturist.  He leads a quiet life, but not a dull one.

Unlike the stereotype so often presented by the media, he is neither vulnerable, nor sad.  Sid is passionate about motorbikes (his pride and joy, is a 1966 Triumph Bonneville), he holidays in a VW Campervan, walks Dartmoor and Exmoor with a naturist walking group and is a member of The Motorcycle Nudes.  He works out to his Coronation Street exercise video three or four times a week; for an older man, he has strong thighs!

Married for 49 years (when the project was made), he and his wife spend much of the time ‘doing their own thing’.

This is a photographic narrative about one septuagenarian who although conscious of his increasing years (and expanding waistline), chooses to engage with the world in his own (mostly naked) way.

He is old, but happy.  There is an alternative to those statistics!

“The fitness teacher used to be the barmaid in Coronation Street. The DVD lasts an hour; I do it three or four times a week.”

“The fitness teacher used to be the barmaid in Coronation Street. The DVD lasts an hour; I do it three or four times a week.”

“I do most of the talking. Half of the time Norma doesn't really listen.”

“I do most of the talking. Half of the time Norma doesn't really listen.”

“I was 17 the first time I sunbathed in the nude; I've been a proper naturist for 50 years.”

“I was 17 the first time I sunbathed in the nude; I've been a proper naturist for 50 years.”

 "My skin's pretty tough.  I spend most of my time outside, even in the winter.”

"My skin's pretty tough. I spend most of my time outside, even in the winter.”

  “I've three motorbikes and a moped. My favourite is the 1969 Bonneville. She's a beauty.”

“I've three motorbikes and a moped. My favourite is the 1969 Bonneville. She's a beauty.”

“We've been celibate since 1976. We don't even touch anymore.”

“We stopped sleeping together in 1976.”

 “It's Norma's conservatory really; she paid for it.”

“It's Norma's conservatory really; she paid for it.”

“I go to camper van rallies. I meet up with friends from the VW forum.”

“I go to camper van rallies. I meet up with friends from the VW forum.”

“Norma made the rose in a metalwork class.  It's all rusty now.”

“Norma made the rose in a metalwork class. It's all rusty now.”

 “I still work quite hard, fixing things and digging the garden. I don't overdo it though.  I make sure I rest.”

“I still work quite hard, fixing things and digging the garden. I don't overdo it though. I make sure I rest.”

“I go dancing 2 or 3 times a week. Rachel is a new partner.  She's good fun, like a daughter.”

“I go dancing 2 or 3 times a week. Rachel is a new partner. She's good fun, like a daughter.”

“I like simple things.  Lunch is often a sandwich.  I really love cheese, but have cut down to try to lose weight.”

“I like simple things. Lunch is often a sandwich. I really love cheese, but have cut down to try to lose weight.”

“I love being out.  I walk with a group.  It's all blokes, but women and textiles are welcome.”

“I love being out. I walk with a group. It's all blokes, but women and textiles are welcome.”

Research:

Help the Aged – http://www.helptheaged.org.uk/en-gb

Saga – http://www.saga.co.uk/

Abstract from research into the presentation of older people and the way this affects their treatment by Alison Parsons, Nursing Unit Manager, St Vincents Hospital, Sydney –
http:www.ciap.health.nsw.gov.au/hospolic/stvincents/1993/a06.html

Articles:

‘Joan Bakewell to put a spring in the step of the elderly.’  Marie Woolf, The Sunday Times,
November 9, 2008 – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5114845.ece

‘Ageism, pensions and the end of high heels – it’s time I spoke up.’   Joan Bakewell, The Guardian,
November 10, 2008 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/10/ageism-joan-bakewell-voice-of-older-people-pensions

Michele Hanson, The Guardian, November 11, 2008
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/11/features-features

Contemporary photographers who have made work about older people:

Georgina Ravenscroft, ‘a prime passage’

Julian Germain, ‘For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness’

Larry Sultan, ‘Pictures from Home’

Nicholas Nixon, ‘Pictures of People’

Steven Tynan, ‘Robber’

Peter Granser, ‘Sun City’

Mario Giacomelli – ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Death will come and it will have your eyes’

Naomi Harris – ‘Haddon Hall’ – http://www.naomiharris.com/

Word: Red

“If you happen to walk any distance between two redheaded girls, it is a sign that you will soon be very rich.”

Approximately 1% of the world’s population has ginger or red hair.

“Redheaded women are either violent or false, and usually are both.”

By 2150, it will be 0%.

“In Donegal, if a girl is born with red hair it is a sign that there was a pig under the bed.”

Folklore, myth and general foolishness would have us believe that to have red hair is to be cursed in some way or other. Challenge anyone to invent or repeat playground nicknames for redheads and they will no doubt come up with ones such as Carrot-top, Copper-Knob, Duracell and Ginga. For centuries redheads have been derided and now their very existence is at threat.

According to geneticists such as University College London’s Professor Steve Jones, the already beleaguered, recessive gene that causes red pigmentation is in danger of dying out and by 2150, we could be living on a planet without the vibrance and colour of the ‘gingers’.

The survival of the ‘ginger gene’ is now the responsibility of the boys and girls, young men and women that are to be found in the suburban garden, on the playing fields and in the high streets of all of our towns and cities.

It is a responsibility they are not quite ready to worry about just yet.

Red i

Red i

In this gap there should be a Red ii … but for some reason, it won’t load…  If you want to see the missing image, please scroll down a few pages until you find a shot of a young man, entitled Cheltenham i


Red iii

Red iii

Red iv

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rb 4 11 boy blue plaster

Red viii

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DP2 – The Spot Project: Research

Research:

Contemporary portrait photographers who have made work either about redheads, young people and/or young people on the street:

Redhead, Joel Meyerowitz

Root Ginger, Jenny Wicks

Female, Jitka Hanzlova

Portraits, Rineke Dijkstra

Seeing Red, Howard Schatz

Websites:

http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/

http://www.howardschatz.com/index.php?gallery=SEEING%20RED::3::1

http://www.redandproud.com/

http://www.roodharigen.nl/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6725653.stm

More red-heads.  I now have enough to put into a final edit.  Phew!  Once again, try to look beyond the poor digital files…  The negs look okay!  Thanks again to all of the lovely young people who stopped long enough to let me photograph them – and for coping with my learning-to-use-flash-technique.

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