My turning point came in the aftermath of a large-scale nude art installation. No film or photographic record exists of this performance but once it was over, before getting dressed, all participants posed together for a souvenir snap. Days later, I looked at that image and saw fifty people beaming happy and uninhibited at the camera, whilst I loitered shyly at the back of the group. It made me sad not to be as carefree as my friends. At that moment I decided to change.
Although it’s almost a decade since I was first photographed naked for a work of art, it took me a few more years to show my face. I began this journey slithering in paint, unrecognisable with around thirty others. On an animal rights protest I wore only fake blood and a plastic mask. In a mass outdoor photo shoot I was just one bare body anonymous amongst hundreds. Always hidden in plain sight.
I stopped fretting and started to liberate my long-restrained spirit. On the annual London Naked Bike Ride, where previously I’d concealed my identity with a hat and mummifying scarf, nowadays I wear nothing but the brightest body paints as I pedal raucously through the thronged capital. The freedom is exhilarating, yet still I feel most energised when helping to make art.
Naked Britain is a beautiful project with warmth at its heart. This shoot was a particularly joyful occasion in a very special setting on a hot summer’s afternoon. As the day progressed, eventually everybody present shed their last stitch of clothing and together we bathed in sunlight and smiles. Magic happens when we shake off our anxieties and share in being our true natural selves.