Roughly four years ago, someone asked me "what do you like to photograph" and although it seems like a very simple question, I didn't have an answer. I liked all the people who hired me to photograph their work or their special life moments - and really enjoy photographing for them - but what would I photograph if it was just up to me..? This question, along with the breakup of my first marriage, led me to book a trip to France by myself in the fall that year. Just to be alone, and to photograph.
This trip ending up changing my life in more ways than you probably care to know, but there were two "big" ones. After a few days of taking semi-touristy pictures, I found a rhythm in what I was drawn to capture for no good reason other than I loved it. I was particularly fond of the windows and doors in the South of France - all the gorgeous colours layered on top of each other year after year, revealed by the flaking paint or showing bits of rust coming through. The streets actually smelled of lavender. The crepes were amazing. My high school french came back to me and I rediscovered the awesomeness of words like pamplemouse and papillion. Aiming for a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the mountains, I ended up by the sea in a "paniche" (houseboat). I sat in cafes and bars by myself, reading Colette or updating my journal. I spent three days trying to reach a town that turned out to be a big disappointment, but on the way found another gem of a town I'd never heard of before. And on the train ride through the mountains alive with fall colours on my way back to Nice, I realized I would be okay. I could put my life back together. My ex-husband and I had lived together since we were 20 - a dozen years at this point - and on that train ride I started to picture having roommates (which I'd never had, unless you count sisters) and looking for an apartment with only my own opinion to consider. This was the day before my birthday, and I really felt like I was ready for a fresh "on-my-own" start. Exactly four hours later, I met Norman.
We met in line for dinner at the hostel we were both staying at in Nice (named after the writer of the Little Prince). I loved his Belfast accent, and his smiley eyes. We spent a lovely few days together walking the old streets and eating ice cream (mine was rose, his was Bailey's - both delicious). We went to the market. We sat on the pebble beach at night, listening to the waves drag the pebbles down. We had the most expensive cup of tea and pint of beer on a rooftop patio with the most beautiful view of the coast at sunset. And then we kissed goodbye.
Two days later - in Paris and back on my own - I found myself in the Rodin museum, in the room with "The Kiss" (which I'd been saving for last), just as a young man got down on his knee in front of the young lady he was with and pulled a ring from his pocket. There was only one other person in the room at the time, and when I looked at her I was glad to see she had tears in her eyes too. I had to leave. I called my sister (7am her time, and what turned out to be a $400 phone call) and through my tears told her that the most unlikely thing had happened - in the space of three days, I'd fallen in love. The rest is a story for another day, another collection of images, another art show.
This is the trip I chose for my first collection of fine art pieces. I will be showing (and hopefully selling!) these pieces at the Queen West Art Crawl this coming weekend in Trinity Bellwoods park (booth D13). Come on down and see us - we'll happily tell you more stories about the magical places these images came from :)
Here's a glimpse of what I've been working on for the show...
these (on the left) were my "minis", pocket-sized versions I could carry around with me to consider. On the right was "colour-picking day" - one of my favourites :)
colours picked, paint mixed, boards painted, images printed and attached to boards..
some lucky guys got decorated along their edges too - I loved this part!