Celebrity snapper Nic Gaunt recently photographed Ankie Beilke in a typically off-the-wall shoot, capturing the actress wearing nothing but gold paint. Here, the pair chat about inspiration, passion projects and motherhood.
How did you meet and, Nic, why did you decide to photograph her?
Ankie Beilke: Natasha Moore brought us all together to create this amazing Gold Bath series. She is one of my favourite make-up artists and amazing at contouring. She knows how to make me look better. I had seen some of Nic’s work before and had been a great admirer of it. I majored in Fine Arts at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and love art and edgy works. Working with Nic and Natasha was a tremendously easy and down-to-earth experience and I’m looking forward for more to come.
Nic Gaunt: As soon as I met Ankie I wanted to photograph her. She is not only stunningly beautiful but has an amazing personality.
Can you tell us more about your current exhibition?
NG: I have had many exhibitions all over the world and when producing fine art photography I always work on a theme. I need a strong concept that draws the viewer into the images not only from a visually dynamic angle but also through a thought-provoking connection resulting in reaction.
What is the inspiration behind Gold Bath?
NG: I had in my mind the sort of bathroom I wanted for the images. I did not want a showroom or a bathroom with a hotel finish. The images had to have a reality and rawness. The paint on the tiles and bath expresses the humanity and reality of true life, and the misconception that anyone is truly in charge of his or her own destiny and persona. I wanted the beautiful, golden woman to hold your attention, and appear vulnerable, before you realise she has an inner strength, direction and confidence.
AB: Natasha made a special mix of gold make-up that didn’t take her too long to paint my whole body. She painted every little part of it, no joke. I felt like I was wearing a bodysuit. The most challenging part was getting the paint off. It took forever.
Ankie, you bare a lot of skin in the photos. Have you always been comfortable with your own body?
AB: I used to despise my body when I was in high school and I was always wearing baggy clothes, trying to reveal as little as possible. I was a typical, insecure teenager even though I started modelling at a young age. I think I was, and still am, my worst critic, but I am now much more comfortable in my own skin. Yoga helped me love myself and accept my body the way it is. Also, I knew I was in good hands with Nic and Natasha. They just made me feel comfortable.
Congratulations on your pregnancy. Do you think becoming a mother changes the way you look at yourself?
AB: Being pregnant is one of the most incredible feelings; going through all the stages of your baby growing and your body changing. I would have never thought the experience would be so exciting. Feeling my baby move, tickling and kicking me, is such a wonderful gift. I can’t wait to be a mother.
Nic, when did your passion for photography begin?
NG: I started in photography at the age of 9 and I was awarded the young photographer of the year in Britain when I was 12. After that I worked for many years in newspapers and received a degree in Photography from Guildford University. I was frustrated with the artistic restrictions placed on me doing newspaper work, so I worked for many years within the music industry. This allowed my photography to become more art led and my work to become more finely crafted and thought provoking. To work on one image that stood alone as a piece of art was incredibly satisfying. In recent years I have worked with Arts Council England to produce exhibitions of my work and that was when I started working on a theme and concept for an entire exhibition.
Does music inspire and influence your style of photography?
NG: Although I have worked with many famous celebrities over the years and known many genres of music I only think the group Pink Floyd has ever had any influence on my work. This is because theirs was the first record I ever bought when I was at school.
Ankie, you were recently in a movie called A Wishing Tree. What was the best part your involvement?
AB: A Wishing Tree is a cross-cultural love story about this girl, Kim, a fine arts university graduate, who tries to find true love and to find her roots. It was an amazing experience to work with my mother who also directed and produced the movie. She gave me the opportunity to be involved in script writing, production, casting and acting in the leading role. It was a very big challenge for me. The best part was working with so many of my friends, which made the whole shoot more pleasant. There were a lot of ups and downs during the movie, but when we fully completed the movie and released in China it felt extremely rewarding.
What other projects are you working on?
AB: I also worked on Faustine, which is directed by a friend of mine Jeff Gabriel-Yu. I wanted to broaden my spectrum and do a short film, which is something that I’ve never done before. The short film has been shown in Cannes at the short film festival section 2016 and Best Woman Film Grand Jury winner at Singapore Film Festival 2016.
If you could work with any model, director or actor in the world, who would you love to work with?
NG: That is an incredibly hard question to answer as I really believe it is the model’s attitude towards work and life that makes them truly superb.
AB: There are so many talented people that I’ve worked with, who have been my mentors. There are so many more out there that I haven’t even had the experience to work with. Let’s see what the future holds. I am looking forward to more exciting adventures.
Photography / Nic Gaunt Hair and Make-up / Natasha Moore