Serendipity is one of my favourite words. Someone once defined it for me as a happy accident and I love that idea. And I’ve encountered a massive bucket load of serendipity lately.
The thing that’s amazed me, since I started this blog, has been its reach. I’ve had some amazing comments from people (and a huge thank you to all of you who have left comments, it’s largely thanks to you that I have the motivation to keep writing). And Al keeps showing me where in the world people are reading the blog. My favourite so far is Nepal. I mean, just pause and imagine for a moment – someone in Nepal is reading something I’ve written. It’s truly mind-blowing.
But back to my lovely encounter with serendipity. Earlier this year Diana, my boss at Thistle, got a call from a guy called Jack from the BBC. A friend had shared my blog with him and he wanted to talk to me about my taking part in a project called Alive: in the face of Death – alivexrankin.co.uk – which he was working on with the photographer Rankin – rankin.co.uk
Alive: in the face of death is looking at the reality of death from all perspectives, and it involves the impossibly talented and incredibly lovely Rankin interviewing and photographing a range of people – people who work in the death industry, people who’ve had near death experiences, and people living with a terminal illness, which is where I come in. The project culminates in a Rankin exhibition at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool, opening in May. There will also be a BBC Culture Show documentary of the whole project, directed by the afore-mentioned Jack, airing 2 weeks later.
Alive seemed to chime with our own values, our way of looking at things and the way we talk about things openly. It’s given me the chance to voice my own thoughts and feelings about facing death. It’s involved a lot of crying, because it’s not often I let my façade down. But it’s been therapeutic crying. So I imagine for those that love me the documentary and photographs may be very upsetting. But it is the real me and I hope that my part in all of this will inspire rather than upset.
So to date I’ve been interviewed by Jack and by Rankin, who came to my house! And the truly mind-blowing part is that for one day I got to experience a Rankin shoot. Hair, make up, manicure and clothes by renowned artists and stylists, and 3 different looks to represent how I see myself in the face of death. It also involved choosing clothes from a treasure trove of designer dresses, jewellery and shoes – my idea of heaven. And then the actual shoot with Rankin, who is so seamless you don’t even notice his expert direction or the subtleties of changing the lighting, the background, the wind machine (yes I had a wind-machine!!). And he made me look amazing!!! So amazing in fact that most of our friends can’t believe it’s me (is that an insult or a compliment??).
And now I’m hoping and praying that all the excitement of being part of Alive, will keep me alive until the opening of the show in May. At which point I shall give Rankin a huge hug and tell him how fab I think he is, then hopefully down a few beers (or even glasses of fizz) with him.
Thank you Rankin, and thank you Jack for this incredibly happy accident! And thank you to everyone who made the day of the shoot truly memorable for me, you know who you are!!
ALIVE: In The Face of Death will run from Friday 17 May – 15 September
at Liverpool’s The Walker Art Gallery.
BBC Two’s flagship arts programme The Culture Show will show the documentary shortly after the launch of the show.
And you can see more of our pics of the day here http://bit.ly/138pcsp