The Floating Cube & The GHD Sirens (2004)

I traveled to the North of England to meet the clients Good Hair Day who make the revolutionary hair straighteners, that are now a global phenomenon known as GHD. GHD was started by three hairdressers from Yorkshire who really understood what women wanted and made a great product that gave ordinary women access to that salon styled look that was not available on a daily basis.

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I was really delighted by GHD’s attitude to photographing their product. The art director was really prepared to consider an imaginative approach. They wanted to shoot a campaign that included the whole woman. I was delighted that we could focus on the experience of using the product rather than a product shot. We cast three beautiful girls and had great styling and hair and make up, which always really adds so much to any shoot.

I built the set at The Worx studio in Chelsea. I  painted the back drop myself as I know exactly what I want. On the morning of the shoot the art director came up with the idea of suspending the girls in this beautiful chrome cube.  The suspended box idea was influenced by the box in Francis Bacons paintings, his tryptic of portraits of Lucien Freud (1969)  (see below). The set designer and my assistants dashed off and got some chrome effect plastic tubing and cobbled it all together while the GHD Sirens were in hair and make up.

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I had a seat built that came out of the back of the set so it had no legs and was invisible from the viewers point of view. The girls sat on the chair and on the day I was hoping to have these wonderful flowing gowns, but in practice the fabric the designer had used was far too heavy to flow beautifully with a wind machine. This meant that the assistants had to flick some of the fabric and we had to use invisible wires to position the fabric exactly the way I wanted it.

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I am always really concerned with movement in an image and this was a great opportunity to create some painterly movement in the images. I am also really interested in how these photos have been received over time.

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By some coincidence my erstwhile PR/PA daughter was at a seafront restaurant in Worthing, West Sussex  Brio, the other day when she saw this rather interesting mural on the wall (see below). She had her Sunday lunch in front of it and kept thinking, that image is so familiar but couldn’t quite place it. By coincidence I had recently been looking at these images when she saw them on my desk top and realised why the image was so familiar. Being a perfectionist myself and specialist in troupe-l’oeil (imitation of life) I obviously could be very critical of this painting. However, copyright issues not withstanding it is a flattering that someone admired it enough to reproduce it as a huge painting and hang it in their restaurant. My daughter asked the manager who had painted it as it wasn’t signed and the restaurant manager shrugged and said “It was here when we moved in”. The mystery continues and its quite funny that this particular siren has found a way to look out to sea!

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