Ted | Age: 24 | Height: 9" | Belongs To: Helen Lyons

Much Loved started as a very simple idea: to photograph some "loved to bits" teddy bears for an exhibition in my studio, which happily has a gallery space.

I got the idea from watching my son, Calum. I was struck by how attached he was to his Peter Rabbit, the way he squeezed it with delight when he was excited, the way he buried his nose in it while sucking his thumb, and how he just had to sleep with Peter every night. I vaguely remembered having similar childhood feelings about my own Panda.

The photographer I admire the most is Irving Penn. His portrait work, from the 1940s and 1950s especially, made me want to become a photographer. With his still-life work, I loved the alchemy of his Street Material series, how he could take pieces of trash and cigarette butts off the street, photograph them, and turn them into works of art. The idea of making an everyday object, something so familiar that it's invisible, become visible again appealed to me.

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