Long Haired Boys in Bed

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John Kelly
John KellyPhotography by Barbara Anastacio

Barbara Anastacio discusses her languorous new series inspired by Lucian Freud and Kurt Cobain

It was a rainy day in London and I decided to kill time at the National Portrait Gallery. It was the weekend; there were more visitors than paintings. What was meant to be a contemplative trip had quickly become me trying to find an exit. But on my way out, I ran into a tiny painting I had never noticed before: Girl in Bed by Lucian Freud. It stuck with me the whole day, and I felt tipsy by its beauty. I later found out it was a portrait of Freud’s muse, lover and wife Caroline Blackwood.

Taking this as inspiration, I shot a series of twelve boys in bed. But not just any boys – long haired ones. From Kurt Cobain to The Hansons, these were the 90’s heartthrobs that filled so many teenage dreams, including mine. The guys that made girls blush whilst their dads rolled their eyes. They were muses to a generation when being socially inept and angst-filled was as hip as it could ever be.

There’s something about a boy growing his hair that, like lying in bed, is subversive for its inaction. Just let it grow, just let it be… To lie horizontally and somewhat defy that ancestral desire to stand up that totally changed the fate of mankind. All animals lie down, only humans stand tall.

Especially in today’s hypermetabolic media environment of constantly refreshing timelines and statuses, it seems ever more subversive to just lie down and think (or not). That moment of nothingness when you’re waking up and you’re yet to be anything other than yourself. No strings attached. Just you and your dishevelled hair.

May these 12 boys, lying in this fictional bed with their hair down, be all that and much more, both pungent and fragile, like the Girl in Lucian Freud’s bed.

Words and photography by Barbara Anastacio