What is your first thought when you see this picture?

This is the second time I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in a Spencer Tunick art installation. The amazing photographer famed for capturing people in their most vulnerable form whilst creatively telling a story.

Applicants for this particular installation were asked to write a statement for why they wanted to be involved. I wrote:

“Ever since I took part in the ‘Sea of Hull’, I have followed Spencer Tunick’s work and it moves me just how relevant and topical his artwork is. It sends a message to the world and brings humans together beautifully. When the pandemic struck, followed by the black lives matter movements, I was compelled to contact Spencer asking him to visit the UK and do an installation. I am so ecstatic that this is going to happen. Never before in my lifetime have a I felt that the human race has to come together, connect and be as one.”

I have Sky Arts to thank for bringing Tunick over for an installation entitled Everybody Together!

I first heard of Tunick 4 years ago when I took myself to Hull to join over 3,000 people in an installation called They Sea of Hull’ to celebrate Hull being crowned the City of Culture 2017.

I shared the following on an instagram post:

“This morning I took off my clothes and joined a sea of naked people, to become a literal body of blue sea. Over 3,000 people congregated in Hull city centre from 2.30am to be part of American artist, Spencer Tunick’s artwork.

Bodies made up of old and young folk, of differing sizes, skin shades and disabilities. Once covered in a shade of blue paint you almost forgot you were naked but you couldn’t forget you were cold! And brrrrr did it get cold. For 3hrs, we – the painted army took to several locations across the city, including a swing bridge. Lying down, bending over and laughing about holes that needed to be filled (that’s by people into spaces 😳).

Amongst the downtime and there was a lot of downtime – we shivered, we laughed, our teeth shivered, we entertained ourselves with shouts of ‘Steve’, we shivered, did the Mexican wave and Hoki Koki and made jokes whilst huddled together.

Body shaming wasn’t invited to the event and for the first time ever – I felt absolutely comfortable in my skin. It was such a different experience and one I’m so glad I participated in.

It’s all thanks to this girl {my bestie Chloe} who heard about it and asked if I’d join. What a fab way for her to spend her birthday than in her birthday suit.”

Around 250 people arrived at the Alexandra Palace to take part in the installation. There was a buzz in the air, a knowing that the people queued up in front, behind and to the side, wrapped up against against the dark 4am Saturday morning would soon be naked brethren.

Due to the number of people in attendance I knew there was a strong possibility I would be seen on the images that were going to be shared. The thought of people I knew seeing my bits at first filled me with anxiety but that feeling disappeared almost as quickly as my clothes.

Tunick’s work cuts through the stigma, shaming and sexualisation of naked bodies.

We are human!

When we shed our clothes and uniforms which often separates, categorises and pigeonholes us. We are more alike than our clothes and beliefs.

We have boobs and bums and nipples and penises and vaginas and pubic hair.

We are human!

Our bodies, regardless of shape, size, colour or how they function, are natural. We shouldn’t be embarrassed for what is natural.

Just after 6am as the sun was beginning to rise we were given our orders to take off our clothes and head outside. This time a mask adorned my face rendering me not completely naked.

We laughed as we filed across a road to see a bemused jogger probably wondering what 2020 was bringing to the party now.

And joked as we laid on the cold grass pretending we were on a sunny beach ordering cocktails.

The entire experience was exhilarating and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

I bloody love being naked and am finally falling in love my body. The way it moves and functions. Every dimple, line, beauty spot, discolouration and scar. They belong to me, no comparison needed.

How do you feel about being naked and seeing other naked people?

Emma x

P.s. can you spot me?