L'Inconnue de la Seine | 2007

Photographed at The Museum of the Order of St John, London

One November morning I received a phone call from the The Guardian Weekend Magazine, asking if I was free that afternoon to photograph a porcelain cast of an unknown woman who was mysteriously found drowned in the River Seine, sometime in the late 19th century. Sure, I said.

After a quick google search I saw that Man Ray had famously photographed her (no pressure) and that she had also been a muse to Camus, Rilke and Nabakov. In the 1950's she re-invented herself as 'Resuscitation Annie' and went on to become the most kissed woman in the world.

Upon arriving, I set up in a small dark room in the back of the museum, and when ready, she was brought to me and delicately laid upon the black velvet drape I had prepared for her. Once alone, I turned off all the lights and gently caressed her with the light from my mobile phone during a long exposure. This made her smile. I was mesmerised, as was the magazines editor who gave her the cover.