Unadorned, 2012

This series of images is inspired by paintings of old masters from the 15th to 17th Century. Over a period of three centuries, these masters showed that female beauty of that time was represented by a fuller figure, and even for men.

Throughout most of the last few millennia, the most sought-after female forms were represented by curvaceous bodies and in Rubens' case of outright corpulence. It is only in very recent times, since Twiggy and Barbie came to the fore in the 1960s, that our narcissistic society reinforced by the media and advertising now interprets the ideal figure to be ultra-thin, enhanced by eating disorders and plastic surgery. Even men are beginning to be caught up in this vicious circle. Today's harsh judgements of obese persons is particularly prevalent in the West; in many other cultures corpulence is still highly regarded today.

For some time now, I have wanted to photograph people who are labelled 'fat' as judged by today's society. I wanted to get to know their feelings about their bodies and how they would behave in front of the camera lens without any clothes on.

In this series I transposed the old masters' inspirational works into a modern context. Larger-than-life models of both sexes unashamedly shed their clothes and posed for me in the nude. I placed them individually in a scene with appropriate props and asked them to pose in ways that would show off their shape naturally and enhance their beauty. I simulated soft candle- and moon-light to recreate that seen in the old masters' paintings.

The way my models held themselves and behaved when naked and being photographed showed me the strength of their individual personalities and their self-confidence. They accept that their bodies are as nature intended them to be. They are honest to themselves in a world all too often dominated by manipulated beauty.