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Matt Granger – nudes in London 2015

29 Sep 2016

“GO NUDE OR GO HOME” shouted the sign, adding provocatively: #getnudenow. The innocent barista at Nude Espresso who chalked those words on a board outside their Soho Square café probably didn’t anticipate that guerrilla naked-art performers might be passing that day, but when photographer Matt Granger invited volunteer models to join him at the square, there could be only one outcome…

Ropemakers Field

I’d begun August 2015 in the Netherlands as part of Matt’s group poses outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Come the middle of the month, he’d returned to London for photography workshops and two further mass nude urban shoots. These would be his first in the capital since the previous year’s gathering on the Millennium Bridge. Shoot number one would be early on 14 August, at Ropemakers Field.


SHOOT 1: Friday 14 August 2015, 5:45am at Ropemakers Field, Westferry. Meet at the entrance off Brightlingsea Place – Street View. Timeline: 5:45 to 6:00, meet and complete image consent forms; 6:00 to 6:30, shoot in a few locations; 6:30, expected completion.” Seven of us answered the call and mustered beneath pale misty skies in the deserted park. We bantered, building in anticipation, and then we undressed.

© Matt Granger

Our merry band included my friends Natansky and Nefretari, who had both been part of the Millennium Bridge shoot – plus Mike and Stan, with whom I’ve shared many a project. We spaced out in a line on a path around the field to begin, and then ranged similarly across the grass. It wasn’t a cold morning and, despite the emergence of a few passers-by, we were happy to take our time.

© Matt Granger

In due course, we moved to the main walkway through the space and posed in three pairs, chatting, while the seventh nude either sat on a bench or rode a bike between us. These were my favourite set-ups. Finally, we regrouped in a bandstand for poses as a V-formation. Passers-by continued to be non-plussed by our nakedness – such is life in London – but there would be no ignoring us in three days’ time.

Soho Square

SHOOT 2: Monday 17 August, 15:00 at Soho Square. Meet at the entrance off Frith and Greek Streets – Street View. This will involve some body paint – nothing heavy, more like finger paint. Timeline: 15:00 to 15:15, meet and complete image consent forms; 15:15 to 15:30, very basic body paint – I will bring wet wipes; 15:30 to 16:00, shoot in a few locations; 16:00, expected completion.


We assembled and waited to see if others would join us. The call-out had generated a lot of interest among nude-art enthusiasts yet disappointingly only ten of us turned up. Natansky, Mike and Stan were back; my good friend Louise came too, also Steve and Ian from the Millennium Bridge; Paula the Nude Nomad and two photo pros completed us. The square was packed so we stripped, painted and posed in a side street first.


Tucked away in Sutton Row, we were observed only by remote pedestrians and a site full of delighted builders. The stakes increased considerably, however, as we marched out into the heart of the square. It doesn’t get much more public, but I don’t think any of us gave a thought to dropping out. Matt was not alone in taking photographs as we arranged our poses – mid-afternoon in the middle of London.

© Matt Granger

Nobody challenged us and, despite the city being flooded with CCTV, police could not be bothered to investigate. That’s how it should be – we were merely making art. With this shot, our work here was done… till someone saw the Nude Espresso chalkboard. It was simply too tempting. Matt went inside to get permission, other customers were cool with it, so we went ahead and followed the instruction: #getnudenow!

© Matt Granger

It seemed our permission may not have come from the senior ranks as in due course a flustered manager emerged, pleading for us to cover up. We obliged, and all bought coffees or cake as a show of goodwill. It could have been great publicity for them, but sadly the café is no longer there. All that remain are our memories of two great photo shoots, and the striking images that Matt captured last summer. Wonderful times.

From → Art

  1. Reblogged this on Naturalian's Blog and commented:
    Nudity in public no great deal!

  2. clothingoptionalzone permalink

    Reblogged this on Clothing Optional.

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