SOFT SILK AND HARD FLESH | VICTORIA ROWLEY | GRACE VANE PERCY
There’s more than meets the eye when fabric artist Victoria Rowley poses with her own work.
Artists are rarely so comfortable in their skin as Victoria Rowley. Legs that are endlessly elegant (CHIC, two down) and a face of incomparable beauty, it’s a wonder that you haven’t come across her before. Perhaps it’s because she’s been up to her elbows in mysterious dyes, colouring silks and studiously creating undeniably erotic images, mixing images of the botanical with the male sex for the last few years. Now she’s managed to get the stains off her hands, she’s doing more than rolling up her sleeves to bring her creations to life.
Rowley gives a great deal of thanks to the photographer Grace Vane Percy in her development as an artist. The two have previously worked together. Rowley modelled as none other than the mistress of all things sex, Venus, for Vane Percy in 2011. Seeing herself romanticised and draped over surfaces like silk gave her an appreciation for her body that she would otherwise have never achieved. With this confidence, Rowley has draped herself once again, to complement her otherwise androcentric work. By joining her illustrations of erect phalluses on silk with her own body, she explores the complexities of female libido.
It would be too easy to dismiss Rowley’s work as capitalising on her own supernatural form. There is a depth to the message that she is learning to communicate and it is admirable that she commits to exploring her ideas with her own form in such a vulnerable and exposed way. This current project, entitled the Lamella and Pudenda series is ongoing, with an aim to complete 20 works this year. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one…
Victoria Rowley works to commission: http://www.victoria-rowley.com/
Tatler November 2014
November Tatler UK 2014
Thanks Tatler for this month’s most amazing spread! No less than eight pages!
NEXT BIG THING: GRACE VANE PERCY
Spabreaks.com is the largest spa recommendation service in the UK, with venues across the country and abroad, but month in The Hot Tub they like to interview a person the consider to be a rising star… and this month IT’S ME!! I was of course completely honoured to be asked a few questions by the lovely Bonnie Friend
Check out the interview:
Photographer, Grace Vane Percy, specialises in taking nude photos of women that rival the old masters for their painterly style. She talks to us about inspiration and the launch of her first book VENUS!
What are you up to at the moment?
I am working on a new project which has a slight retro feel, think 70s black and white nudes but with a mysterious quality. It’s a series of nudes with a more erotic element, but still very feminine – showing female sexuality in the kind of way every woman can relate to!
Where does your inspiration come from?
Women. The natural beauty and diversity of real women and the sculptural elements in every body. I enjoy finding the unique beauty in each woman I work with and showing that to them in a photograph.
Who’s your role model?
Lee Miller! Ever stylish, feminine and beautiful, but practical, hard working, talented and an exceptional photographer, she was as inspiring as she was inspired.
Who would play you in a movie?
Audrey Hepburn! Please.
What’s your earliest photography memory?
Photographing my Sylvanian Families with my father’s Polaroid camera! I used to make brochures for imaginary hotels with them and cut outs from the Country Life property section!
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
If you want something done properly do it yourself, and always keep going. When you make the space in your life for something you want and cut out the things which are just sapping your time and energy (even if they help you pay the bills), the thing you’re working towards will always come flooding in. It has been true for me every time.
When you’re not working on being the next big thing, what do you do to relax?
I love yoga and I also love to cook every day, I’m a vegetarian and love all the variety and delicious options. Recently I’ve been experimenting more with raw food, which has been amazingly yummy and very satisfying, my husband’s also surprised himself by enjoying the fruits of my labour too!
We encourage everyone to do one thing each week to be kind to themselves, what are you going to do this week to #bekindtoyou?
Someone said to me recently, you should always treat yourself as you would treat a child. I’m not quite managing that, but maybe if the weather’s nice I’ll buy myself a big ice cream!
Thanks to the talented Bonnie Friend & the Spabreaks team
Film’s Not Dead: A Helping Hand For VENUS
London based photographer Grace Vane Percy has been creating a beautiful body of work over a number of years where she has been exploring the Venus poses & the female body. Her work has been shot on mostly medium format film as well as some 7×5 sheet film. Vane Percy is now looking for funding to help her put this project into a book:
“I have been working on this self-funded project for over four years and it’s finally ready to be published. With your support and generosity, all this planning and work can finally be brought out into the real world. Shot mainly on medium format B&W film in some of the UK’s most celebrated country houses, my series of 54 unique images and 15,000 words of text is completed. Locations include famous and historically significant houses, from Alnwick Castle, where Harry Potter was filmed, to Castle Howard where Brideshead was revisited twice. The photographs combine the female form with architecture in a manner never before seen. The halls, of Houghton and Holkham, the gallery of Newby Hall, as well as follies and fountains provide the perfect setting.
Venus is the mother of all female nudity in art. She is known for her ethereal beauty, which transcends mere desire. With the advent of photography this disassociation from the mortal world became difficult to execute. In this series, the concept of perfect encapsulation of female beauty is reclaimed and represented for the modern world.
The result will be a full-color (for richness & depth of tonal quality), black and white, litho laser press printed book, on finest quality paper saddle bound, hard-back, coffee table book.”
Thank you Film’s not Dead, I’m such a fan! It’s a real honour to be featured.
Grace Vane Percy: The Art of Nudity
FREE! Magazine met recently in the lobby of a hotel in Helsinki centre with British photographer Grace Vane Percy, one of the most well known names in UK when talking about nude photography, while she was visiting the Finnish capital.
Grace is planning to move to Finland in the near future this year due to the studies and work of her husband, who collaborates with the Finnish opera designing stages, so our talk is a double opportunity, firstly for us to get to know more about nude photography and secondly for her to get to know more about Finland and Helsinki.
“I cannot believe that it is already 10 years that I have been doing this job!” exclaims Grace, who comes from a very strong classical art foundation, having studied at Central Saint Martin’s in London and in Florence; a classic influence which really can be spotted at first sight in the amazing and beautifully balanced compositions of her photographs. “My father asked me at some point what I wanted to be, if I’d pursue being an artist or wanted to focus on photography, so if I wanted to be a photographer I had to come back to the UK “and get on with it!” and so I did!”.
Grace has been primarily based in London in the infamous neighbourhood of Notting Hill but also travelling around the world to meet her clients. Grace has built a strong reputation as one of the most refined photographers specialized mainly in female nudity. Working exclusively on black and white medium format film, she finds that it makes the colour less distracting and adds a layer between the reality of the flesh and the image.
Not just as a journalist but also as a man, I find curious where is the limit drawn between a photo being considered just artistic or erotic. Grace explains her views: “For me an erotic photo is more about the meaning behind the picture, is not about the woman being objectified but more about showing provocation. You can see in many of my photos as the model looks disconnected from the viewer, but if I want to achieve something more erotic, then I play with the attitude. So the model engages more looking at the camera and in a way being more ‘inviting’ to the viewer”.
Recently she has taken a departure from her standard female subject matter and tried her hand at photographing male models and in some cases with couples. Grace mostly prefers working with women.“I think women definitely feel more at ease with me being also a woman. They do not feel the pressure to be judged and they are often surprised by how easy and natural it becomes to be naked around me. Being physically naked also makes them feel more emotionally naked and they face this kind of photo session as a release and a way to confront an anxiety, because in the end everybody wants to feel appreciated. Usually when couples come to have their photos taken, men are more much shy and hide behind their women.”
I feel curious to know what kind of clients get in contact with Grace. Being the cost of a session with her 575 (GBP), I wonder if usually the people portrayed belong to high class. But Grace thinks is not like that: “There are photographers who do similar job, but charge much more. Also many work digitally so their costs are far lower, you have to discount from my rate the cost of the materials, the film & processing etc… Clients usually always love the results because they end up with something more like you can see in a gallery, they understand the quality and recognise it is art, something which they could even display in their living room. So the person becomes a subject, an inspiration enclosed in a work of art. I like having a variety of clients, and I find with this price range it is attainable for a wider variety of people, which is also more interesting for me. But then when coming to Finland, I have to see if I need to rethink the prices”.
And Grace has already being doing some research about how the market could be in Finland: “I have heard that now here is an interest in Boudoir Photography, which has a different feeling to what I do, so that shows a certain curiosity about nude/semi nude imagery. I have seen a lot of pretty girls walking around Helsinki. Sometimes I feel like a teenage boy, cause I would love to walk to them and ask them if I could photograph them naked, but then I do nothing!” says Grace laughing.
Although soon moving to the coldness of north Europe, this seem to be a hot year for Grace, preparing the release of her book “Venus” after 4 years of work behind it and looking forward to future challenges.
Finland prides itself on producing some of the most strong, independent and beautiful women in the world. Now is an excellent chance to enjoy having one of the best nude photographers in the world here in this country and maybe be part of a photo session that will leave you a memorable set of photos to remember forever the exaltation of the female body as the sublime elevation of beauty to be displayed and worshipped.
By Antonio Diaz
Unconventional Midlife Crisis
Tim Hutchins, amateur IronMan, marathon runner and self confessed gym nut, visited me earlier in the year for a shoot, read what he had to say about his motivation for the shoot and his experience:
This time last year I turned 40, the prospect of which, with its obligatory bouts of self reflection on becoming old, over the hill, past it, blah blah blah, simply terrified me. But I didn’t want to be another midlife crisis of the red sports car, brown hair die and blonde au pair cliché. If I was going to have one, I wanted mine to be less obvious and more challenging.
Grace Vane Percy is one of the country’s foremost photographers of female nude portraiture. She and I had discussed the possibility of a nude photo shoot for some time. Grace’s motivation was to develop her incredible talent for photographing the female nude and all its curves and beauty, on a male subject with all its angles and ugliness. My motivation had midlife crisis written all over it (albeit a sidestep away from the sports car, hair die, au pair cliché). I wanted to capture an image of myself as I looked at 40, complete with 6-pack and pecs, to show that not all 40 year olds have to give up on their bodies and accept midlife decline as inevitable. Something to reflect on now as much as look back upon in future years.
I’m quite young and very fit for my age (an earlier health check showed my metabolic age to be 23, when I was in fact 39). I train fives times a week plus a weekly yoga class, I run or cycle to and from work every day, and throughout the year I compete in endurance events including Ironman triathlons, marathon running and open water swimming. I’ve never smoked and consciously eat well. And although I have grey hair, a fissured brow and a few wrinkles, my healthy and active lifestyle (and I dare say, the absence of children) have endowed me with a shape that is better than most guys my age. So, when the conversation came up about having nude photos taken, I thought “why the hell not?”.
One of Grace’s talents that I hadn’t considered before the shoot, was her ability to treat the situation with such normality that I actually forgot what I was doing. Standing fully naked in front of a woman who I wasn’t about to have sex with, or be examined by, was far from normal. Yet it didn’t feel abnormal. We were both there to do a job, and although she was the only professional in the room, I did my best to match her standards. I knew about Grace’s training as a fine artist in London and Florence, before she moved into photography. I imagine it was her fine art training that inspires her work as a photographer. The way she worked with light and shadows, the positioning of the human body and the framing of each shot, while managing to avoid any unsightly “cock shots”, was truly impressive. Especially when she told me that she was shooting on film and not digital. This meant the need for accuracy in every shot was much greater (there’s no delete button on a conventional SLR camera), and gave a level of artistic authenticity that today’s post-production trickery simply can’t match.
A few days after the shoot (a period that felt like the grown-up version of waiting for holiday photos to return from Boots as a child), Grace and I met to review the contact sheets, and I was genuinely shocked. They were incredible. Even at thumbnail size, the untouched, black and white images were really captivating. I couldn’t believe that these were photos of me, a 40 year old, not a model or sportsman. Grace is a talented photographer and a pleasure to work with. She produced images of me that went above and beyond anything I had imagined when I had the idea to confront my midlife anxiety through nude photographs of myself. Here are some of the shots:
Soft Soft Screams Magazine’s First Featured Erotic Photographer Photographer: Grace Vane Percy Erotic Ballet Collection
Fine Art Erotic Photography Ultra-Creative Photography Exquisite lighting and beautiful composition creates an alluring image. These are just a few of the criteria needed to be selected in Soft Screams Magazine’s special collection of Fine Art Photography.
“Our primary mission is to assist more in the re-structuring of the photography industry as we know it today. More than ever, photographers require marketing and promotions of their talents and visions. Soft Screams Magazine is just one of several to be started Photography Magazines, each specializing in a niche of photography styles.
It is our secondary mission to educate people on the artistic beauty of Erotic Photography, one image at a time and to educate photographers and laypersons on the significant differences between the poor quality and sexually indulgent nature behind pornographic pics, and the artistry behind Erotic Photography.
Soft Screams Magazine is an adult Erotic Photography Magazine, formatted in a blog-a-zine style with comments, tips, and insights provided by Soft Screams Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Belladonna Del Rio. Soft Screams Magazine features images that our editors, and viewers submit for the entertainment and education of the world. We scour through thousands of photographs a day to bring to you what Soft Scream Magazine considers to be the artistic best of the best of Erotic Photography.” Soft Screams Magazine
Grace Vane Percy is their FIRST Featured Artist! Thank you Belladonna Del Rio.
Harper’s Bazzar ROYAL BABYWATCH: WEEK 31
Recent new mother Rebecca Newman has been following the course of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy with week by week advice on what to expect when you’re expecting.
As the Duchess of Cambridge approaches her due date, so Royal Babywatch draws to its close. As Kate prepares for the last push – forgive me – Royal Babywatch concludes with a round up of the last details which will help her ease stylishly and confidently into motherhood. We wish her, and her infant, every happiness.
The lissom Grace Vane Percy works transatlantically, specialising in the female nude; her granular black and white signature style is especially suited to the pregnant form (gracevanepercy.com).
Art Palm Beach Jan 2013
Grace Vane Percy’s series of female nudes in classical settings reflect a strong creative flair, and artistic sensibility. The glorious, stately, backdrops celebrate English Palladian architecture at its finest. The Financial Times comments “Vane Percy’s approach is resolutely artistic” reflecting her training at the Charles Cecil studios in Florence as a classical artist working mainly in charcoal. This has also influenced her comprehension of anatomy, and the strong sense of chiaroscuro which is visible in her current work. Grace herself grew up in an English country house in Cambridgeshire. Her love of photography started from an early age when she discovered her father’s collection of Victorian glass plate negatives. She studied history of Art at the Courtauld Institute and Fashion photography and darkroom techniques at Central St. Martins. She has been commissioned to photograph some of the most elite and successful women in London and New York. She has been invited to join the ‘Women In Photography’ Archive at Yale. In the words of London’s Evening Standard – “Grace is the best in town if not the world.