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2015:PROJECT NAKED - Chapter 8 Nefretari Arises

Cleopatra's Needle and the Sphinxes

As the sun rises, so a monarch awakens. From the Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt, she came to us from the Valley of the Queens across deserts and seas...

We met at midnight in a hotel room on London's south bank, near Tate Modern. Nefretari was to be my next model for 2015 PROJECT NAKED. Together with us at the hotel were two outstanding body artists: Nicky and Debz.​​

Artist: Nicky Gardner

Artist: Debz Mills

For six hours, with paints alone, the two artists worked patiently to transform the pure naked body of Nefretari into true royalty from the land of the Nile.

They crowned her with a majestic headdress bearing a golden cobra, just as the first light of dawn gave renewed definition to London's skyline. We were tired but ready for our photo shoot outdoors.

And where else in London would one photograph a queen of Egypt than by Cleopatra's Needle, with its two sculpted sphinxes on the north embankment of the River Thames? We arrived there just as the sun was poised to break above the horizon and illuminate an immaculate blue summer sky.

As fate would have it, the only lingering group of people we saw in London that morning just happened to be at the Needle. We hesitated a while but couldn't lose the early light, so we simply carried on regardless. Nefretari slipped elegantly from her gown and we started our shoot on the sphinx that faced the sunrise.

The people kindly moved away for us and we were then able to continue undisturbed for the next three-quarters of an hour. There was a distinct chill in the air but we were getting some fantastic shots, capturing strong poses at a great location in near-perfect conditions.

The body art was so magnificent that it seemed a pity, when the time came, to say we were finished. Just for fun, we took one final set of shots from the south bank with the House of Parliament for a backdrop. Then we were all done.

Yet as we began our journey into the afterlife of this particular shoot, I already had plans underway for something big to follow...

Watch the making of Nefretari Arises here:

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