We came across set designer Gary Card and photographer William Selden’s accidental collaboration while lurking on Instagram. The ballsy concept for their spontaneous photoshoot struck a chord.
In the conservative Tate Britain museum—where on a recent visit security personnel almost tackled me for taking a photo of the title card placed next to an artwork—the duo managed to get away with secretly conducting an entire photo shoot inside the David Hockney exhibit, needless to say without permission. Dressed in medical attire, they take turns posing against the backdrop of Hockney’s legendary paintings, creating their own compositions with poses and costumes that complement the aesthetic of the artist, as if they were a pre-existing part of Hockney’s world.
We had to get to the bottom of this.
How did you guys come up with this concept?
Gary Card: I’d love to say we had a carefully planned ‘mission impossible’ style master plan to break into the Hockney show at night and do a guerrilla photoshoot, but in all honesty it all happened by chance. Our director friend Isaac Lock asked us if we would play paramedics in his new short film. I’m not fond of being in front of the camera but the idea of Will and I running around in nurse outfits for the evening seemed like too much fun to pass up. Made even more fun by the fact that, incredibly, Isaac had secured the Tate as his location.
Between shoots there was a lot of down time so Will and I went for a look around. Passing the Hockney show, we gave a couple of the doors a wiggle. Realising all doors were locked, ‘Well, worth a go,’ we thought before trying a final, less conspicuous side door and to our amazement it was open! We courteously stepped inside, thinking Tate’s security would escort us out at any moment but nothing happened. We couldn’t believe it, we had the entire show all to ourselves.
What happened next? Tell us about the execution. The thrill!
GC: We honestly felt like kids—skipping through the show, taking pictures of each other and ourselves. Dressed in these fantastic jumpsuits, an emerald green that could have been picked by Hockney himself—it was just too perfect.
David Hockney is of course very special to us both particularly as we made a Hockney inspired shoot with me as a foe Hockney model (Mockney!) a few years prier.
After about half an hour of being there, we started to think about our time, still very aware that we could be chucked out at any moment. We quickly saw this as an opportunity for a small project. We started composing pictures, quickly moving from painting to painting, posing and rushing to the next.
Was this scene in LA Story an inspiration?
GC: No, but this was …
and a bit of this …
Would you consider continuing this series by breaking into other shows?
GC: I feel like an experience like this is kinda once in a life time but if we had the chance again we would jump at it. I wonder how tricky the Louvre is to break into??