Life is full of surprises! For instance, meeting up with my sixth grade elementary school teacher Paul Bailey after 37 years had to be one of them! We both had changed a bit from those days, when we had shoulder length hair, wore ’70′s era clothing, Paul with a moustache and me just dreaming of one! We met up with Paul at his home on Denman Island, a tranquil location just a short ferry ride from Vancouver Island. It is a destination that can prompt one to say, I could live here!, and certainly the 1000 plus residents that do live here might have said the same thing upon their first arrival….and stayed! Our visit here brought back fond memories from my childhood when we explored Denman, Hornby and Tree Islands; camping with my friend or cycling across the islands during a weekend school camp-out.
Paul spent 4 1/2 years at my old school and then ventured out into the world of photo journalism over the next twenty years. From there he went back to teaching; designing, establishing and then heading the career program in professional photography at North Island College, as well as teaching photography in the college’s Fine Arts Department; positions that he still holds today. Paul notes that he thoroughly enjoyed his two decades working for the magazines and book publishers, but says when it comes to creating your own agenda, both from a time and creativity perspective, he is now free to follow his own path of photographic expression.
Paul’s thirty plus years in photography has taken him from the days of film cameras to the present day of digital media. Paul admits that when digital photography first came out he was intimidated by it, but eventually he embraced it and now incorporates both the traditional film experience and the digital realm within his personal projects and his teachings at North Island College. Paul has traveled down various avenues of creativity within his medium and points out that he is quite excited about the world of abstractionism. He enjoys the feeling of freedom from not being bound by representational expectations; every viewer is an equal participant and afforded their own interpretation of what they are looking at.
A look through Paul’s website at Paul Bailey Photography will take you on a journey through cultural, historical and political imagery, abstract macrophotography, life and scenes abroad, as well as expression of cultural dances through his Shapeshifting series. My first glimpse at one of Paul’s Shapeshifting subjects in his studio gave me pause; my mind eventually sifting through the twirling and swirling motion to discern what it was, or rather who it was, that I was looking at. One of those moments of intrigue…then AHA!
Enjoy our interview below with Paul Bailey and please feel free to leave a comment! (And don’t forget the social media buttons!)
It’s pitch black outside and there’s not a sound to be heard; the only light penetrating the darkness are the billions of stars trillions of miles away on this cool, duvet-worthy night! Our resting place for this evening is at glass-work and macro-photography artist Robert Moeller’s home, an idyllic setting along the banks of the Gatineau River in Wakefield, Quebec. As a fellow Westy owner, Rob understands the more stark living conditions we may subject ourselves to, and so his gracious invitation for a place to park our van, shower and fill up on water was eagerly accepted.
Wakefield is a picturesque town that exudes charm and an atmosphere of relaxation in its natural setting along the Gatineau River. The forested shoreline futilely leans and reaches for the opposite side; the river only giving up it’s span to the brilliantly red, covered foot bridge which emerges as a focal point of the town. Within the beauty of it’s surroundings, it is also an intensely community-minded place, where residents can feel connected not only to nature, but to one another. With inspiration at your doorstep and at every turn, it is no wonder that this area is home to many artists, artisans and crafts people. These are the reasons that Robert chose to make Wakefield his home, and as he conveys images of paddling his canoe to the store to pick up groceries, or swimming in the river on a hot day, I can feel the tug of my own heart strings to this halcyon homestead.
Rob has been working with glass for thirty two years, but in the last seven his focus has shifted from working with stained glass to clear glass infused with colour from various metals, alloys and minerals such as copper, brass and mica. He has also incorporated plants such as ferns and horsetail. The effect is stunning, with the copper changing colour from brilliant blues to ruby reds depending on the number of firings in his kiln. The plants add the organic appeal with nature’s detail captured within the textured glass. Rob notes that he likes to explore his own backyard as well as traveling Westfalia style to other parts of North America to discover fresh ideas. This in part sparked the evolution from more traditional stained glass with its visual appeal to creating textures within the glass itself. Either way, nature is the inspiration behind Rob’s glorious glass work.
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Rob’s foray into macro-photography as an art form evolved from his lifelong interest in observing the world of small things and examining their textures. His shift from selling traditional photographs to his current montage style was a format inspired by an artist at an Ottawa art show. She was combining her paintings, mosaics and all her mixed media work within a montage design of same size squares. This was an “aha!” moment for Rob and the aperture on his lens has been wide open ever since! He combines various square photos of the same size and category into a larger rectangle or square. Ironically, Rob’s intent is for the viewer to be caught off guard by taking in the larger piece first from a distance, and then allow each person’s inquisitiveness to draw them in closer to find a surprise in each individual square. Rob’s goal for a viewers first impression is that the eyes are not drawn to any one picture, but that the individual photos create the overall effect. Once again nature is the prime target for Rob’s lens. The macro images not only allow him to capture nature at its smallest but also allows us to feel its texture with our eyes. What I enjoy about Rob’s work is that he is unfettered about delving into new arenas of creativity. He admits that he can get bored doing repetitive work and so he is always looking for new ways to direct his artistic channels. This can only bode well for his admirers and we certainly look forward to seeing more of Rob’s work!
One could walk by an old farm implement a thousand times and never give it a second look, or for that matter just about any “mundane” object that is regarded as just “being there” and not offering any hope of interaction or thought in our everyday life. Julian Hall’s photography has enabled those objects to come alive and demand attention, showing the beauty and intrigue that they possess through both a macroscopic lens and thought provoking composition in a context that makes you think, “I’ve never looked at it that way before.” The character lines, textures and colours of an old tractor, the grain of a piece of wood, or even the contrast between nature and man-made objects are just a few of Julian’s photographic endeavours.
Julian’s subject matter is certainly influenced by his surroundings, and his work has surged with new purpose and excitement since arriving at Kind Organics, an organic farm where he works as a manager helping to bring to the farmer’s markets yummy greens, herbs, edible flowers and salad blends that we had a chance to try. We caught up with Julian at the farm, just west of Newmarket, Ontario, where he gave us a tour of this dynamic operation as well as meeting the current WWOOFers that were working on the farm upon our arrival. We also met the owners Tamas, Sandra and their son Sasha, who out of the blue, generously gave us a loonie towards the care for our cat Marli. A true cat lover after our own hearts!
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Julian became interested in photography at a very young age. His father was a photographer, and so from within the dark room where images would appear “magically” from the trays of developer chemicals, a lifelong passion was borne.
Julian’s composition is one of tactile imagery, creating photographs that bear the texture and colour more reminiscent of an oil painting. Composed through the lens of his camera, and certainly evidenced by his work, Julian is seeing the world around him in parts, or focused areas, rather than always as a whole. This characteristic is akin, in the visual sense, to “stopping to smell the roses,” gaining an appreciation for the minute details and not allowing peripheral vision to gloss over his surroundings.
Julian’s photos tell a story about his subject matter, and can invoke feelings of nostalgia and wonder such as with the old farm implements, or even pique curiousity such as with the macroscopic images. For me personally, Julian’s photography is a metaphor for slowing down, appreciating the small, simpler things in life, and not allowing the fast paced world to blur our vision of what really is important: something, someone or somewhere that is right there in front of us. Thanks Julian!
Above: Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
Garth Irvine’s artistic calling has certainly come to light as a noteworthy wildlife photographer, which is not to say that he wasn’t accomplished in the arts of stained glass or glass blowing (I say, you should see his Tiffany style lamps!). But considering that he has spent most of his working life as a Zookeeper and very experienced in the behaviour of animals, it only makes sense that those skills and knowledge would lend themself well to wildlife photography where anticipating an animals behaviour can muster up some pretty fine pictures!
In addition to his Zookeeper career, Garth has also been leading ecotours through Nature Encounters Tours and Travel Ltd., which has been a vehicle to the venues for the breathtaking photos that you see throughout this post and his linked site. So hurry up everyone, book a tour with Garth so he can get out there and bring us more of those remarkable photographs from all over the globe!
Armed with an arsenal of knowledge and his camera, Garth’s vivid photographs of these iconic gifts of nature invokes a feeling of “closeness” to them, and I can only wonder at the exhilaration, mixed with a certain amount of that instinctual fear of the unknown, that Garth must feel being so up close and personal with these magnificent animals on their home territory.
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Be sure to join us for an engaging few minutes with Garth as he brings us closer to the animal world! And don’t forget, Comments are Cool!
Ellen McArthur is a southern Alberta photographer from Lethbridge. She first picked up a camera in 1970 and has never looked back. She considers herself a photo purist and has enjoyed the challenge of maintaining excellent photography without the addition of technological enhancements. “Not that there is anything wrong with that,” she says, “it’s just not for me.”
Her love for photography comes from her childlike appreciation for seeing something in the viewfinder for the first time. She describes it like entering her own private space and finding little treasures to capture in her photographs. Ellen’s subject preference is any opportunity to embrace mother nature in all her splendour. She has been known to sneak a photo on occasion of people and capture the human element with unsuspecting innocence. She loves what she does and it comes through in her photographs.