Cesar's LightThursday, July 06, 2006
A couple of years ago I photographed architect Arthur Erickson in my studio. He is always a delight. I love his urbanity. But this time I had him stumped with my question. I asked him which was the most famous building in Vancouver by an internationally known (but not Canadian) architect. Arthur did not know. I pointed out my window to the white building across the street which is Simpson Sears. Tucumán (Argentina) born Cesar Pelli designed it (formerly Eaton's) and the Toronto Dominion Tower which faces West Georgia. Both were built in 1973.
When I first came to my present studio some 15 year ago I fell for the special light reflected into it by Pelli's one-city-block-long white wall. In a recent review of my show of roof gardens at the Pendulum Gallery, a block from the TD Tower, Vancouver Sun columnist Malcolm Parry somehow connected it with undraped women to my wife's chagrin (I was delighted). This is what he wrote:
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's photographic exhibition, Secret Gardens: Vancouver's Hidden Rooftops, is worth a visit to the Georgia-at-Hornby-Pendulum Gallery. As you'd guess, it pictures luxuriant stretches of greenery usually seen only by the occupants of even higher buildings.
Utterly unknown to downtowners was the Robson-off-Granville studio in which Waterhouse-Hayward long photographed female models as undraped as the second-floor facility's windows. No one could look in because the Sears (earlier Eaton's) department store facade across the street has no windows at all. But the blank, south facing wall perfectly reflected sunlight to give the photographer the softly diffused glow - and privacy - he cherished.
Mac erred in that I am still in that studio and I do have curtains. I ignored Pelli's light (much to Arthur's delight)and I used my own for this portrait of Erickson. But my granddaughter Rebecca got the full white wall treatment in August 2005.