Everyday People, The Lowry, Salford UK

A commission from The Lowry, Salford, brings Spencer back to the UK
to interpret LS Lowry's unique paintings with a Tunickesque twist.
May 1 and 2, 2010

Over two days, heated buses shuttled close to 1000 naked volunteers from one location to another across Salford and Manchester. When this project was first announced, I had visions of a convoy of tour buses driving around all day with naked volunteers waving out the windows at unsuspecting bystanders a la "Carry On" or Benny Hill. It turned out that save for a rather memorable final setup with the ladies at the end of Sunday's installation, participants generally kept their clothes or bathrobes on inside the buses, and kept arms inside the windows, though this had more to do with the really cold temperatures outside rather than health and safety. Also contrary to my initial impression, the installations were over with enough time for a decent breakfast each day, Saturday's ending as early as 8.30am.

The installation locations were:
1. Angel Meadows & St Michael's Flag
2. Dantzic Street and the yellow car-wash
3. Peel Park
A fourth planned setup did not take place on Bromley Street, a few roads away from Dantzic Street, as it transpired that one of Spencer's intended props - an industrial chimney - had been demolished a few weeks earlier. The article which refers to this site is here.

1. Castlefield
2. The Lowry
3. The Concorde Hangar at Manchester Airport's Aviation Viewing Park
4. The Gasometer at Manchester City Stadium

The two days of installations have caused quite a stir in the Northwest, with at least 4 rather active Facebook groups and our own forum buzzing with activity. Pictures are being sought everywhere, though the absence of press photographers from the Sunday installation means that for all but the few hundred odd participants, the locations, setups and settings from Sunday will remain unseen till the Exhibition's opening on June 12. The press had their moment at Peel Park on Saturday morning, and as a result, most of the images seen online and in the press came from that setup.

For Spencer, this project was a first in a number of ways: 1. in the adaptation of another artist's vision and work over an entire project; 2. in the use of motion and freeze-motion within the artwork (not to mention frozen participants); 3. in the importance of video for capturing the installation - this has been done in the past, but there was a particular emphasis for video this time, in order to set Lowry's original images into motion in Spencer's interpretations - to be screened at The Lowry during the exhibition; 4. in the logistics of shuttling particpants around from one location to another on buses; 5. in the need to shortlist registration to a quarter of its initial 4000.

There is no doubt that the artwork from the two installation days will be quite remarkable, Tunickesque but with a twist. The installations themselves will stay on the minds of the participants for a long time to come. For frequent participants, Salford will probably be regarded as one of the better Spencer Tunick projects.

The Lowry have released an official Everyday People DVD of the film shown at the exhibition. This DVD includes footage from both days. Click here to purchase the Everyday People DVD from The Lowry's online shop.

I would like to than Sian Astley at www.moregeous.wordpress.com, for providing us with many of the photographs on this page. Additional photographs were taken by Tim Blackwell, Heidy Elainne, and an unnamed chap who lives across from The Lowry, who must have been overcome with disbelief as he snapped away. So many thangs to all.

But now, let's allow the participants have their say...- Gil Limor, May 2010.

Stephen writes about the first day of installations on Saturday

Photo: Sian Astley
I set off from my home in London at 8-15 on Friday night with a long train ride ahead of me.  To save on accommodation costs my plan was to skip a night's sleep and just head straight to the Lowry and head straight home again afterwards.  I was due to arrive in Manchester around midnight, when there were still Metrolink trams running to the Quays, but I wasn't entirely sure whether I would be the only person there, three hours early.

In the event I didn't need to worry.  Two of us got off at the Harbour City stop and only after we had both followed the signs for the Lowry for a good 5 minutes did we feel confident enough to greet each other as fellow travellers.  Andy and I would spend most of the next 8 hours together, clothed and naked, having never met each other before.

We arrived at the Lowry to a bit of a commotion, a gaggle of people on the plaza, a smartly dressed couple, and a few others taking pictures.  Were the press so enthusiastic to cover this event?  In the event, no.  It was celebrity Kym Marsh and a friend humouring their own personal paparazzi crowd.  We didn't recognise her but one of the paps turned out to be a participant and joined us to proudly show us his phone photo of him and Kym together.  "I've always wanted to have my photo taken with Kym Marsh" he told us, as he hurried back to his place in the queue.

A queue!  Three hours before registration was due to begin there was a queue of dozens of people.  When our group of 40 was counted in later, there were 32 people ahead of us, so the queue must have stood at 72 when we arrived.  We were confused that there were exactly enough seats for all the people who had already arrived until we worked out people were grabbing them from the Lowry patio as they turned up!  I duly grabbed a couple of slightly damp but not uncomfortable chairs and Andy and I made ourselves at home.

It didn't take long before we had more company.  A local girl, Rachel had come on her own, hadn't realised there was a queue until she had gone in the Lowry and someone had told her.  She was happy to have the company, we were happy to chat to her and soon we were very much a group of three.  Next in line was another local, Chris, who seemed to have prepared for the event by imbibing plenty of alcohol, and had a slightly more earthy take on events.  As our group chatted, what appeared to be another group developed behind us, but like us they were just more people who had arrived at about the same time, thrown together by serendipity rather than by choice.  Pete, Other Andy and Laura soon merged into our group, and Laura's friend Briony arrived soon after.  By now we were literally a circle, chairs arranged around a pile of bags.  We were joined a little later by a woman called Bindi, who had decided our group was much better than her group further down the queue (but well within the first 500), and as we had a spare seat we had no objection to her joining us.

We chatted and speculated and complained about the cold, and the lack of hot drinks, one by one we made use of the Lowry's toilet facilities.  We shared food and drink and stories and excited grins.  No-one was really sure what was happening, and as the only one in our group who had been to previous installations, I was drilled for information.  I explained to everyone what usually happened and warned them that there would be a lot of waiting around.  When the queue did start moving, and we dispensed with our seats, we huddled together like very hyped-up penguins.

In the event registration started on time and was a very swift process, we all picked up a free carrier bag, a free juice drink and a free pair of what can nearly be described as slippers, and were ushered into the Lowry mezzanine floor.  Spencer's lieutenant Jonathan explained we were all going to be put on coaches and taken to the first location, but he was unclear about the undressing protocol.  "I imagine you'll undress on the coaches" was what he said.

From previous events, I knew it was best to stay dressed until Spencer gave the word, but because of the instruction to bring along a bathrobe, most people were unsure whether to switch to bathrobe and slippers now or wait until we got further instructions.  I don't think anyone actually stripped off in the Mezzanine but I'm sure it wasn't just the people in my group who were uncertain what we were supposed to do.

In no time at all we were herded towards the coaches.  Squeezing hundreds of people through one set of doors made it hard to keep our group together but we just about managed it.  However, we were not so lucky with the coaches.  Chris, Bindi, Laura and Briony were the final four onto the first coach, and the rest of our group were shepherded towards the second coach, where like kids on a school trip, we excitedly grabbed the back seat of the bus.

Photo: Sian Astley
There then began a magical mystery tour of Manchester.  The locals speculated on where we might be heading with each twist and turn, but couldn't agree on which direction the Eastlands stadium was.  We were passed photographs of Lowry pictures to study and locals had just as much fun pointing out landmarks they recognised in those.  Eventually we came to a stop in a coach park in a very run-down looking part of the city, when all the coaches had arrived we were told to disembark, and there was Spencer himself, with a megaphone, to give us our first instructions. 

It turned out he hadn't completely decided himself what he was going to do, but he had locations in mind and explained what he wanted from us.  One person in the crowd asked "what do we do if we pop wood?" to great amusement.  Spencer suggested getting on the coach and dealing with it yourself, Jonathan had a much more draconian solution as he held up a saw.

After some more waiting back on the coaches we were finally walked along the road to our first location, a grassy park at the bottom of a slope.  Spencer gave some instructions, partly with a megaphone, partly without, but the message seemed to be "walk about aimlessly."  And then he must have given the word, as people towards the front started to undress.  Andy and Rachel were still alongside me, we all gave each other a "here goes" look, and I bent over to untie my shoelaces.  Of course I lost my balance while trying to take off my socks standing up without invading anyone else's personal space, and crashed onto someone else's bag.  By the time I got up again, everyone around me was already half naked, fortunately my remaining clothes were far easier to remove.  I ran after Rachel determined not to lose any more of my friends so early in the day.

Running down the first part of the slope looked easy, it was just grass wasn't it?  Then suddenly everyone noticed the thistles and started running in zig-zags rather than straight lines.  My evasive manoeuvres caused me to lose track of Rachel and suddenly I was alone among a throng of hundreds of nude bodies.  Spencer started barking out his orders - spread out, fill in the gaps, walk around, freeze... and intriguingly "can someone separate that couple in the middle."  I was at the back, far from Spencer's lens, but even from my view the sight of all those figures, frozen in mid-motion just like Lowry's subjects, looked just like a photographic image rather than a living panorama.

And then with a further word from Spencer, that was it, and we were free to return up the slope to our clothes.  I had no idea where mine were, but fortunately Rachel had wisely decided to use a bright green bag rather than the standard issue blue Ikea bag, so it was easy to spot.  We all dressed in our bathrobes and light clothing, shoes socks and underwear having become unnecessary encumbrances, and followed the crowd to our next location.  It was best not to think about what we were walking in as we passed under bridges populated with roosting birds, but we kept our eyes peeled on the ground for hazards such as broken glass.

The second location was a street framed by a bridge, which happened to be outside a homeless refuge.  Again we undressed and walk into position.  There was a little commotion in the crowd ahead of us and we only worked out what was going on when a fully (if shabbily) dressed homeless man weaved his way through the naked throng in the opposite direction.  Whether the look on his face was a result of euphoria induced by substance abuse, or because he had stumbled into a giant crowd of stark naked people, we will never know, but I suspect a combination of both.  I thought he was just passing through, but he made his way to the doorway of the refuge, then turned around and started singing.

Spencer was mid shot at this point and determined nothing should distract him.  We had been told to freeze, we had been told not to look at him and we had been told not to smile.  And yet, we were standing there, in the nude, with a homeless man just inches away from us belting out "Fat Bottomed Girls" and a selection of other rock classics.  Not smiling was not an option.

The stewards and the policemen showed no inclination to move the man along (I guess he had as much right to be there as us) or to shut him up, so we just had to stand there doing our best not to snigger, for what seemed an eternity.  Fortunately the joke got old quite fast, and with each new song the reaction turned to groans.  Eventually Spencer got his shot, and everyone went back to their clothes - which involved walking right past the singing homeless man.  Knowing my clothes were further up the street and there was another way round, I took the longer route (quicker because it was not so crowded) and spotted Briony heading the other way.  I gave her a brief smile and a thumbs up, and then she was gone again.

Photo: Heidy Elainne
I was briefly reunited with Andy and Rachel (Pete and Other Andy having disappeared in the crowd) but when Spencer announced the next set-up was just for the men, we parted company.  Rachel returned to the coaches where (she confessed later) she snagged a cheeky cup of tea from a fellow participant.  Andy and I spotted Pete ahead of us as the men trudged to the appointed position, in the road in front of a bridge.  Spencer arranged us into rows and for once I found myself worryingly near the front, in the second or third row, right in the middle.  Perhaps it was because I wasn't concentrating, having spotted a group of the ladies who had chosen to stay and witness the artistic process - amongst them Briony and Laura, who I'd been trying unsuccessfully to locate for some time.  Good use of initiative, I thought!  Spencer got the rows of men facing different directions, I was luckily facing the direction of the girls, but was unable to catch their eyes, especially as I had my serious face on now.  Spencer was having issues with a gentleman near the front who was not leaning at the right angle, wasn't relaxing his arms enough, and eventually he asked his assistants to move the poor chap.  He was also asking some of the men in the first row (amongst them Pete) to stand in the middle of a giant, filthy, oily puddle.  The things we do for art!
But finally, the photograph was in the bag, and my initial instinct to catch up with the girls was sensibly overruled by the fact that my clothes were still in the opposite direction.  For this I was rewarded with the amusing sight of two elderly and fully dressed women (part of the Lowry support team) talking earnestly to each other appearing to be oblivious to the hundreds of naked men thronging past them.

Dressed once again we were soon back on the coach, and on our way to the final location, which turned out to be a place called Peel Park behind the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, and the University.  We were directed to a car park where Spencer gave us a more detailed pep talk, and informed us the media were here.  We were delighted to finally catch up with Laura and Briony (and Chris who seemed a bit calmer than in the queue).  They told me how they had almost missed the very first set-up because of a visit to the portaloos, they had arrived as everyone else was already naked in the park and thought they would have to sit it out, but one of Spencer's assistants had ushered them on, leading to a very swift strip and descent into the crowd, before they even had time to think about it.

It seems to me that every time Spencer gives the word to undress, everyone does so at manic speed in any event, and this time round was no exception, and in the blink of an eye I found myself alongside Laura in another nude morass being funnelled into the pathway down the hill.  The first people through went straight off the path and down the wet, slippery grass, and when one gentleman of advancing years took a tumble there were gasps and a little nervous laughter.  After that the Lowry ladies did a quick Health and Safety assessment and ordered everyone to stay on the path until nearer the bottom of the hill.  Laura, however, was determined to run through the sloping sun-lit grass, and I was determined not to be left behind.  The cool, wet grass was a much needed salve to my concrete-scarred feet and it was easy to think for that brief descent across the grass in the springtime sun surrounded by angels that I was in paradise rather than Salford .

This time we had been told expressly to spread out, that there should be ten or twenty feet between each of us, and I did my best to follow the instruction.  Again, I headed away from the crowds, away from the media's glaring lenses, towards the back, where the space was, where Spencer's keen eye would not recognise my returning face, and where I could perhaps use my experience to help organise those around me.

Photo: Heidy Elainne
There will be a short delay, Spencer told us.  He had arranged for a cloud to cover the sun, which he welcomed a lot less than his shivering subjects.  He had taken care of everything ("What about the dog ****?" cried out one wag).  In the meantime he had us running on the spot, reaching for the sky, jumping up and down.  Was this a calculated tactic to keep us warm?  Or did he just enjoy abusing his power over us?  No-one was complaining.  He asked his assistants to pull the more ethnic looking participants to where the camera could pick them out.  It was a predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon morass but it would have been misleading to have it portrayed as uniform.  A lady with dyed hair was asked to move to the back - the only participant on crutches, she slowly hobbled to compliance.  And then finally, Spencer was ready.  We walked around.  We froze.  We walked around again.  We froze again.  My eyes, frozen in one direction, flickered around searching for somewhere innocuous to stare, but always inevitably returned to the naked person immediately in front of me.

The women faced the sun.  The men faced away from the sun.  Spencer's camera (and the cameras of the media) captured it all.  And then we were asked to form rings around the great circular flower beds, first facing inwards, then facing outwards.  And then everyone was asked to walk away from the flowerbeds in the direction they were facing, all in unison.  We became ripples on a pond, widening and passing through each other.  I didn't let the end of the grass stop me, and walked into the soil bed, until Spencer called us back.  And then that was it, we were done... the men that is.  Spencer had something else in mind for the women.  I trudged back up the hill with the rest of the menfolk, past the Lowry Ladies offering biscuits, and returned to the carpark to dress for the final time.

Most of the men returned to the coaches, I was too worried of missing what could have been my final chance to see my new friends, and I stayed and waited.  A man with a walkie talkie came up to me at one point, I thought I was about to be evicted, but no, he just wanted to offer me another biscuit.  I drank my free juice, and threw my soiled "slippers" in the bin.  Then the first wave of ladies returned - Spencer had dismissed the over-35's, and some of them didn't look happy.  I spotted Bindi for the first time since the coaches, with a face like thunder.  With the men and their clothes gone, points of reference in the carpark were fewer and it took time for some people to find their clothes. 

Photo: Heidy Elainne

Things got more confusing when a sole naked man appeared, I later learnt he was a fortunate Slovakian visitor who had been hand picked by Spencer to be the centrepiece of a set-up in which all the women circled the flowerbed in which he stood.  And finally the women returned, still struggling to find their clothes.  Laura returned first, thankful that I had waited to mark her spot.  Chris, who had waited with me said his farewells at that point, even before Briony and Rachel returned.  They excitedly described the final set up to me, alleviating my confusion about the older women and the Slovakian man. And then, too quickly, we were hurried back to the coaches.  The girls on the other coach said they would see us back at the Lowry, and Rachel and I returned to our back-seat gang of Andy and Pete, Other Andy having left earlier in a taxi cab.  We exchanged details and promised to stay in touch, as the coach dropped us back where it had all began.  I had the pleasure of the girls' company for another hour as we sought sustenance and reviewed the morning's events, but all too quickly I was on the train back to London , back to normality, back to reality.

Rosemary participated on Sunday, and writes:

I was one of the 500 people who took place in Spencer's mass installation based on the art of L S Lowry on the 2nd of the two days, May 2. 

Registration was required by 03:30 at the latest!  I arrived at 01:30 as I didn't have to far to travel and I didn't want to have gotten this far and then be turned away as the final email said only the 1st 500 people would be allowed to participate.  There was already a queue of 150 people sitting on chairs and the queue snaked around the Lowry building.  The atmosphere was pretty nice and relaxed and even in the pitch black I could tell there were a mixture of ages, body shapes, etc.  It was quite strange when around 03:00 the people you had been speaking to finally became visible as it was getting lighter - I'd like to say the sun was rising, but when it did eventually rise it stayed behind clouds for pretty well the entire shoot much to Spencer's joy but not ours.

It was the first time Spencer had done multiple locations - for both of the 2 days the volunteers went to 4 locations.  Our first location was Castlefield - we set out about 04:30 but when we arrived we had to wait as the car park was not open until 05:00.  We were then led to the canalside and after Spencer introduced himself and explained what he was aiming to achieve, we all stripped off at almost breakneck speed.  It would be difficult to explain just how cold it was and there was also a northerly wind (more about that later). Some of the brave guys went into the barges, others stood on a bridge and the rest of us walked around.  I was keeping my eyes on the floor, but only because there were little stones everywhere and bits of broken glass which needed to be carefully negotiated.  Then Spencer told us to hold our positions.  They say the camera never lies, but all I could think of was I hope his camera allows for shaking as you could see limbs shaking and hear teeth chattering.  Suddenly a big collective laugh rang out and nobody could quite work out what the reason was until the cold wind then hit us - talk about a sharp intake of breath!

After several shots Spencer said we could get back on the buses, with the exception of any man aged 60 and over and also any man with grey hair.  I understand he did some shots with this group of them shaking hands. 

Photo: Sian Astley
Then it was back to the Lowry where I was hopeful we would do an indoor shoot on the stairs.  Unfortunately that was wishful thinking, but at least we were able to stay warm until 07:00 as he said the photo shoot would be outside and he was not allowed to use his megaphone until 07:00 due to the flats which are directly opposite the Lowry. 

On this shoot we had to walk up and down the steps and then yet again hold our poses.  At just after 07:00 somebody looked up and saw somebody standing on their apartment balcony, so we began waving to him.  Imagine the shock he must have got opening his blinds to see all those naked people below! 

Then it was back on the bus again and this time we headed out to Manchester Airport and to the hangar there that houses Concorde.  I know a lot of the guys were thrilled to get such a close up view of the iconic plane.  For this set we were split into 2 groups - one for 45 years and older (I was in that group).  Anybody 60 and over (I was not in that group) had to stand on the steps leading into the plane but nobody was allowed inside.  The rest of us had to point up to the plane with straight arms and straight fingers as per Spencer's instructions.  Afterwards we all went back to our buses and the under 45s did their photoshoot. 

Eventually we all set off again for the final shoot - gas works near the new Manchester City stadium.  It was still bitterly cold - at times it felt as if the wind was following us.  On the way to the final location the sun could be felt coming through the windows of the bus, but as soon as we got outside there was that northerly wind again.  By then I got the impression that the original 500 hundred had diminished - it will be interesting to count how many people were there at the last photo shoot.  We had to get together in groups of around 20-25 people.  Unfortunately I wasn't thinking quickly enough and I ended up on the outside of my group.  It was sooo cold.  Then Spencer asked us to turn in the opposite direction so then I would have the wind on my back.  It was the only time I made an audible complaint and a very kind guy let me take his place and stood behind me to block the wind.

Then Spencer asked all the women to follow him and I think most of the guys got back on the buses although I do know some of them stayed to watch as an act of solidarity.  Spencer asked us to get on the buses and press our bodies up against the windows but without our faces showing.  He felt it would be a particularly good shot.  He then banged on the window and asked the woman who was in front of me why she was so tall.  She told him it wasn't her fault and that the seat we were kneeling on was over the wheel so of course it was at a different height!  I don't think therefore it was the effect he was looking for, however the women on the upper level will probably have looked good.
Photo: Tim Blackwell
With the exception of the weather it was a wonderful experience and it is something I'm very glad I did.  A quite extraordinary experience and one never to be forgotten.  The Ordinary People Exhibition will be on at the Lowry from early June and for 3 months and we have been promised a limited edition of Spencer's favourite shot on the day we attended.  I'm sure Spencer got the feel he wanted - apart from us, Concorde and the colour from the barges and the buses all other shots will have been grey and I'm sure they will have been a fitting tribute to Lowry's work. 


Tony was fortunate to participate both days. Here is his account:


We arrived early at The Lowry, and were intending to go to meet some friends elsewhere then come over to join the queue later. However we spoke to a few people around and discovered that there was already a queue of 40 people, so we joined the queue instead and I texted our friends to join us. There was a nice atmosphere in the queue and naturally we got talking to a few people near us who were lovely. There seemed to be more males than females - about 60-40 split - and of the men about 20% were on their own; the rest of the queue seemed to be mixed groups or couples. The weather was cold but bearable and stayed dry, thank God.

At 3.30 we were taken indoors and through a registration process, they had about a dozen tables - six for men and six for women - and they had a list of all the participants who had been invited. We were then let through, where we were given a drink, a pair of hotel disposable slippers (which proved to be useless) and a large shopping bag from IKEA for our clothes. From there we were taken to the buses and there was a very giddy feeling, the anticipation was crackling like static in the air.

We were taken to the first installation, a run down industrial area, there were a few back street garages around but the most imposing structure was a very big stone supported railway bridge. We all assembled under the bridge a little nervous but excited. We were led to a nearby road with a park to one side, where Spencer informed us the first set up was. Spencer then announced that he would countdown from 3 to 1 and in that time we were to get undressed. By the time he said one most people had disrobed already. I've never see people get undressed so quickly, it was as if they were terrified of being the last ones left with clothes on. We were told to go down a small hill into the park while Spencer remained near the road above us; he then told us to walk back and forth until he shouted freeze (poor choice of words since we were already freezing); he would then manipulate a few people who were not quite in the right position then take his photographs. While naked in this park, I met an older guy with whom I'd had a conversation with while waiting in the queue, suffice to say despite the cold I was very impressed by him.

Then we were allowed to put our dressing gowns on briefly while Spencer moved his camera to the next location. We were then told to disrobe again and brought to a sweeping hill snaking away from another railway arch. Spencer set up here pointing his camera up the hill. We met a drunk, can in hand, being told to go away by a policeman. He wasn't going anywhere and proceeded to start serenading the group as we passed , making everyone smile. Someone said he was singing Fat Bottom Girls which was quite witty considering how drunk he was. We were dispersed up the hill and again told to walk back and forth and told to freeze while in this position. This location was overlooked by a small apartment block, and I happened to look up at one point just catching the face of a young guy in his 20's, as he looked out of his window to see what all the noise was (Spencer was using a loud hailer). When he was confronted by a street full of naked people, he did the classic cartoon style rubbing his eyes as he could not believe what he was seeing. When I told others around what I had seen it gave us all a real laugh.

Then we were allowed to put our dressing gowns on and the ladies were told to go back to the buses as the next set up only required men. We were put into six lines going across in front of Spencer and then told to bunch up, which got nervous laughs from us. Lines 1, 3 and 5 were told to face one way and lines 2, 4 and 6 were told to face the other, this was OK until he asked us to bend over producing some serious nervous laughter; as although we were not physically touching the person in front; the guy behind me was very hairy and I could feel the hairs of his chest touching my back. I may have felt more uncomfortable in my life but I can't remember when. Then we were taken back to the buses and taken to the last set up.

Photo: Heidy Elainne
Next location was Peel Park (rather appropriate) where some of L.S. Lowry's paintings were set. When we arrived we were taken to a car park and told to disrobe. We then walked down a steep stony path with a large grass covered hill to our right. We were advised to walk to the bottom of the hill before going into the park, but some of the men thought they could walk down the steep grassy bank and predictably most fell, much to the delight and the amusement of the rest of us, but it was all in good fun. We were then spread out in a large park containing some circular flower beds and again asked to walk back and forth until told to freeze. He manipulated a few people into his desired position then took his photographs.
Next he gathered us around the circular flower beds and again moved people till he was happy. This time the men were all asked to leave as the next setup was for women only, some of these on the grassy bank previously mentioned, then we were taken by bus back to The Lowry.


Sunday morning we arrived a little earlier than the previous night and joined the queue early; there were only 3 people in the queue but there was a north westerly wind that had got up and there was a quite a stiff breeze so it felt a lot colder than the previous night.

After registration was complete, and we had got onto the buses, we were taken to an area near the centre of Manchester and asked to disrobe, there was a canal bridge, a barge, a railway viaduct and a large area of concrete. We were distributed mostly around the concrete area and some on the bridge and barge, again being told to walk back and forth and freeze while in this position. This time there was an audible gasp from some of the participants, the reason soon became clear when the stiff breeze that they'd felt reached the rest of us, the gasp travelled like a Mexican wave among us. We felt this happen several times during the different setups and I can honestly say I've felt a breeze were you should never feel one.

Then Spencer asked everyone to leave except men over 60. When he realised most of us were leaving and that there wouldn't be enough men left for what he had in mind, he went ahead of us and stopped all men who had grey hair or were bald and sent them back to the ones who'd stayed. He then got us to walk around as before, but this time when he told us to freeze we were asked to turn to the guy nearest to us and shake their hand, remaining in this pose until the photos were taken. Then it was back to the buses and back to The Lowry. 

When we arrived back at the Lowry we had to wait around for a while so Spencer could set up his cameras, but at least we were indoors. We were told to disrobe and go outside, the buildings around The Lowry are all quite large and imposing; once outside, the area became a wind tunnel so it was very nippy. Again we were told to walk around then freeze in our poses, he took several different shots before he was happy when we were allowed to go back inside. This gained a loud cheer from all.

The Concorde setup for me was the highlight of the second day. Iím old enough to remember Concorde coming into service and had a small regret that I never got to see it before it was de-commissioned, so when I found out where we were going, I was like a schoolboy going to meet his hero. When we arrived at Manchester airport we were taken to a hangar and Concorde was every bit as awe inspiring as I thought it would be. They asked the over 45's to come in first. He got the over 60's to pose walking up the steps going into the plane, then the next oldest were distributed around the floor under the distinctive nose, the rest of us were under the plane's enormous wings. The coolest shot for me was when he got everyone to point directly up at the plane, it seemed a very effective shot. Then we were allowed back on to the buses while the younger ones were taken inside.
Photo: Tim Blackwell
Our final installation was right next door to Manchester City's football ground. There is a structure there called a gasometer basically the frame of a large gas tank. We were split into groups of 30 then asked to get naked, that was when we realised just how stony the area was and there were lots of oaths taken while walking very gingerly over this rough surface. The groups were spread around in clumps and were posed facing one way then the other with the gasometer in the background. Then the men were told they were not needed any more and could go back to the buses. Spencer took the ladies to 2 double decker buses parked in the corner of the lot. He had the ladies pose squashing as much naked flesh against the glass as possible; the ladies upstairs facing out full frontal; the ladies downstairs showing their arses. Then he got them to switch. Some of the men wandered over after dressing to look. I stayed on our bus, so could only watch from a distance and from where we were it looked amazing, almost like he had painted all the glass with naked flesh, very effective.

This was a most amazing experience, the camaraderie of complete strangers was second to none. I had a brilliant time and would like to do it again at some point in the future. Here's to the next time. 

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