Back up – what about italy?

Oh yeah….I went to Italy for a week with friends from Canada. We stayed 20 minutes from Florence in a guest house called Villa Le Tori. 7 days in Tuscany, in July was brave to say the least. It was hot and Florence was hotter. Consistently, the best food I have had in a long time. Everyone we met was warm and welcoming. Including the mosquitoes. 

Some highlights – 

the colors. 

the food. 

the landscape 

last but not least, the architecture. 

Hope to be changed.

Lately I have been in a lot of museums. They are not my favourite places to spend time. They are usually crowded and tedious. The walking kills me. The mindless conversations drain me. I go because I think I should. And of course most people like them. And when you travel with people you do the things they like to do. Given the choice, I would pick the streets and buildings of a city before its museums.

Of course, there are the few times when you are in a museum and that special thing happens. That moment when you see something that makes you feel more alive than the minute before, a flame ignites in your mind and you can see the world differently for that brief time. The experience of art will do this and it will change you. And this is what pulls me back. That hope to be changed.

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Snakes and Butterflies, Otto Marseus van Schrieck, The Louvre
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Detail from Tenture de la dame a la Licorne, Musée de Cluny.
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Arles View from the Wheat Fields – Vincent van Gogh, Musée Rodin

Wet. Cold. But it was Paris.

We had planned a week long trip to Paris for what was supposed to a glorious spring week of watching flowers burst into bloom. Unfortunately it felt like it rained everyday and with morning temperatures hovering at 2 degrees it felt more like winter than spring.
The train trip started out like this…

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But we were soon faced with the grey overcast skies of Paris.

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Even with blustery days and rain swept mornings every inch of that city is cool. And why wouldn’t it be?

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Every few blocks there is a bakery, a great little bar or restaurant, all the shopping you could ever want and any kind of museum you would want to visit. And it is quiet. For a big city, it is remarkably quiet. Noise exhaustion does not end your day, tired legs do.

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Little moments buried in memory.

I spent some time yesterday updating my Behance account – Adobe’s social media platform for creatives. They have a great app for creating offline portfolios. And as there is a lot of travel planned for this upcoming month, I thought it best to employ some digital tools this time – instead of carrying around my printed portfolio and being charged by the airlines for doing so!

I had to go through and re-export photographs from each series and in doing so for South by Southwest, was reminded of all the long jaunts I did with my dad to get that work done. I am going to put together some posts that highlight some of the outtakes from that work – today I thought I would share a few of my favourites from that first drive we did together back in July 2015.

Because it was the first part of July and the canola flowers were resplendent. And be thankful I am restricting myself – there were many, many versions of canola.

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Part of each drive was spent spotting abandoned buildings and barns that were kind of accessible.

The worst thing about them – birds scaring the S*&T out of me as I walked up to them and prickly plants hiding in tall grasses.

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Best part about these scouting stops was after we had turned the car off and walked away from the road we could hear the bird songs (as well as the insanely loud buzzing of insects) and by wading through the tall grass, you could find gems like these.

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Stretches of pure crop were broken up by auto collector detritus…

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and crops politely working around building detritus..

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We finished at Wolf Hill. My grandfather was born here. The original homestead buildings are gone and the land is owned by another family now. I was hesitant to ‘hop the fence’ but my dad, as aways, encouraged this gentle trespass. Even with the long drive we faced back to Calgary, we stayed to watch the entire sunset in surprisingly bug free peace.

I go back to this sunset time and time again. Nothing else in the world compares to the space of the Prairie.  The excess amount of space that light has to travel and fall upon the land is extraordinary. It fills me with a feeling of freedom that is unequalled in any other place I have been. Perhaps this I owe to my father. His unbridled energy, his keen embrace of finding joy in everything he did, is here in this land.

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These are the gems I keep, these little moments I have to unearth to remember.

Winter Moo

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I took two days out of Christmas festivities to drive out of Calgary, just south of the city, to capture the landscape in snow. Getting out of Calgary is easy. Remarkably easy. In 20 minutes you can leave the congested roads, the Starbucks drive thrus, the line ups for mall parking lots and the enclosure of buildings. It all just slips away. The spaces between buildings get larger and larger until the buildings are insignificant. Fences, power lines, trees, hills, sky and open roads become the navigation system. You are out. Out in the rolling hills of the prairie.

Part of the architect in me is attracted to the pure forms of the prairie landscape. While the bigness of the sky is ever present in Calgary, the horizon is cluttered with citiness. Out of the city, the sky meets its natural partner, the land. It was not a particularly harsh winter and so there was not a lot of snow on the ground. While in the city it just seemed leftover and reminiscent of winter, out of the city, the snow was magnificent on stubby fields. On Saturday, it lit up like gold under a warm light. Shining through the white snow, it was dazzling. Sunday it snowed.  These two days yielded two very different days of light. Resulting in different forms, different horizons and different colours.

I began photographing bison last summer, collecting some ideas for Home on the Range and I wanted to return and see how their woolly coats suited them in -25 degree weather. This time I couldn’t get as close as the summer and the resulting distance yielded images of huddling, furry, delicate creatures on very tiny legs. They look like inky blots on the white winterscape.

Winter does not only create magnificent landscapes in Alberta, it demands winter coats for all the creatures who live there. And the cows have some of the best winter coats I have ever seen. Thick and curly, the snow collects on their backs and their heads, creating incredible patterns on their deliciously thick coats. Naturally skittish, and prone to running away when faced with a camera, I practiced my best sneaking up skills on them so they wouldn’t run away. The result was a series that to me, celebrates their beauty and their humour, all at the same time.