Saturday, November 25, 2006
Earthworms belong to a large phylum, the Annelida, or segmented worms. They belong to the Class Oligochaeta. This name means 'few bristles' and refers to the few bristles, or setae, on each body segment compared with the many setae of marine annelids in the Class Polychaeta ('many bristles'). There are four pairs of setae on each segment. These can be detected as a roughness if the animal is stroked from tail to head.
Earthworms are diverse enough to be broken into four major families, with approximately 3,000 known species.
Earthworms range in size from several millimetres to two or three metres in length.
I took these pictures around 26 years ago and I don't think Martin's store is around anymore. I remember the store was near Kootenay Street in East Vancouver, and that's all. I wouldn't be caught dead holding more than one earthworm in my hand at a time. Being an Argentine by birth I really don't like to eat fish. I get easily seasick, so fishing is something I have avoided all my life, be it manly or not.
But Rebecca Stewart, my 9-year-old granddaughter, begs to differ. Whenever she spends any time in our garden she overturns all my stones to look for insects, worms and other bugs. These she picks up and brings them into the house for me to scan. When she was 5 and we went to Washington DC, she had a fantastic time holding 5-inch long cockroaches, lizards, snakes and whatever creepy crawly thing she could get her hands on at the Museum of Natural History. Her mother Hilary has nixed Rebecca's wish to become a member of the Vancouver Reptile Society and has said that a snake in the house is out of the question. No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 71
Greek To Me
Friday, November 24, 2006
During the olympics in Mexico in 1968 Rosemary and I attended many of the cultural olympic events. One of them was a classic Greek play with actors who came from Greece. I remember that the only two words I understood during the very long evening were nous
In Vancouver around 1978 one of the closest kept little secrets was the existence of Parthenon Place in West Vancouver. I guess those who lived in West Vancouver knew of it and kept their mouths firmly shut. Those who might reveal the existence of the little Greek temple to the lesser mortals of Vancouver would have probably been ostracized and banished to cross First Narrows and live on the other side for life.
I discovered the pseudo Greek parthenon by accident from the air in a De Havilland Beaver coming back from Egmont. The story I was told was that a rich Greek businessman tried to placate his wife's homesickness and built her the temple that she could see from her window. The little temple was pretty well intact into the 90s and one day it was gone. A little memory of the place remains in a couple of streets called Parthenon Place and Parthenon Crescent.
Greer Grimsley (Macbeth), Christopher Gaze (Richard III), Nick Harrison (English Soldier)
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Nick Harrison (actor/sword master/stunt performer) sat on a stool in my living room wearing his chainmail, a mantle, chainmail gauntlets and broad sword. With his short cropped hair (as if he had just removed his helmet) he looked like an English soldier after the battle of Agincourt. A couple of hours later American baritone Greer Grimsley, in town for Vancouver Opera's performance of Verdi's Macbeth, was in my studio facing my camera and wearing Harrison's equipment. Harrison had kindly lent it to me for the Georgia Straight
photograph. In 1950 when my mother first visited Mexico from Argentina she was given a rough textured, blood red rebozo that I have lovingly kept and used for special photo sessions. When Grimsley saw it he said, "This is perfect. In Macbeth's time they did not yet have tartans. This will be look accurate." While I was taking my photographs I kept thinking of the interesting link between two of my protagonists here and Bard on the Be
ach's Christopher Gaze. In the hopes of catching a glimpse of Kenneth Branagh (see in blog below) Gaze accompanied me when I photographed Branagh. In 1998 I photographed Gaze in his 1998 appearance as Richard III.
Adendum by Nick Harrison (who is the fight choreographer for this opera) on sword seen here:
It is a bastard sword. It's called a bastard sword because it can be used with one or two hands. The story behind that sword is that it was the very last sword made by my father. He was 87 - He made that one in July of 2006. He died August 2006. The pommel on the sword is a lion rampant.
The sword in the photo was Branagh's from his 1998 film Henry V. When I was desperately trying to find a broad sword for my Macbeth session it was Gaze who pointed me in Harrison's direction. And here they all are!
Vancouver Opera's Macbeth
Bard on the Beach
Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet), A Bodkin & Helena
On January 10, 1997 at 3:45pm I was to photograph actor Kenneth Branagh at the Hotel Vancouver. He was here on a publicity tour for his film Hamlet
, in which he starred and directed. Days before, in an advance screening, I had seen Hamlet
(the long two-hour, 42 minute version.
For the ever-so-familiar "To be, or not to be" soliloquy, Branagh ignored previous stage versions and took advantage of the unique capability of film. He performed it in front of a large mirror in a black 19th century military uniform with a stark checkered floor as background. I was enthralled.
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear...
From his side he pulled out a bodkin(stilleto) and finished the soliloquy with it by his face. I knew how I was going to take my picture. Upon leaving the screeing room, I told the publicist's assistant, "It's going to involve a dagger."
The morning of my shoot, I was called by Branagh's Vancouver publicity agent and warned, "Under no circumstances are you to photograph Mr. Branagh with a dagger or a dirk. He is here as himself, not as Hamlet. Furthermore, you are not to raise the subject of her
."(at the time, Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter were an item.)
I was ushered into Branagh's suite and I set up my lights. He came in but left the door ajar. His agent was in the other room. Branagh was a delight to photograph, but I kept eyeing my briefcase. Pointing in its direction, he whispered, "What's in it?" I opened it. He lifted the bodkin and placed it on the side of his face. I took my picture. Before leaving I gave him a little pewter frame with my portrait of Helena, taken a year before.
Shaking my hand, he said warmly, "I'll make sure she gets it."
Lauren Cries - Hilary Cries - Ale Doesn't
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools
King Lear, Shakespeare
I remember distinctly 32 years ago when I placed my youngest daughter Hilary (she was about 2) on a high shelf in our home in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico, in the outskirts of Mexico City. She was afraid and she began to cry. In my youth I may have been even more callous as I had the intention of wanting her to cry so I could take this picture. Hilary cried for everything. She may have been four when we traveled in our VW to San Francisco with her older sister Ale. While there, she spoiled our holiday as she cried and cried for beans and tortillas and would only stop crying when Rosemary carried her. On our way to San Francisco we drove through the scorching Desierto del Altar near Mexicali. Hilary cried in the back seat. I would shout to Ale to make her stop crying. Could it have been my shouting or my saddling Ale with the responsibility of caring for her that I can say that I have no memory of having ever seen Ale cry? The paradox is that only recently I can attest to the fact that Hilary has finally lived up to her name and she laughs a lot with that crooked smile she inherited from me which I inherited from my mother.
Now I will do anything to stop a child or any woman from crying. When Rebecca cries for a stuffed bear, I have told her that if I were rich I would buy anything for her as long as she stopped crying.
Lauren, who is now 4 is crying for her mother in the same way her mother cried for us. I don't take any comfort. Last Saturday Lauren was running around with a pair of jeans on her head (much like her mother used to do). She looked cute so I asked her to pose for me. She told me she didn't want to and began to cry. With the light at a minimum I took these pictures and felt sorry I had. It will be a while before she understands exactly how bad I felt.
Harry Nomura - Larix kaempheri
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
When Rosemary and I moved to our present home on Athlone Street in 1986 me moved to a house with a large garden in total ignorance. The previous owners had relied on Harry Nomura to take care of the garden. Nomura had been doing the gardens of our neighbourhood for a long time and when he retired (his eyes were giving out) in 2000 I would guess he had been at it for over 50 years. Nomura always looked younger than he was. In a short time Rosemary and I realized we could not afford Nomura except for the needed spring and fall cleanups and the clipping of tall trees. We had to do the rest if we were going to pay our mortgage. And that's how the both of us got into gardening. But for a long time Rosemary would correct anything I would be doing in the garden with a, "Alex, Harry would not do it that way."
Eleven years ago I purchased a 5 ft Larix Kaempheri
(Japanese larch) at the VanDusen spring plant sale. When I was leaving the garden with the tree in my wheelbarrow, VanDusen curator, Roy Forster looked at tree and then at me. He said, "It's going to be big." He was right. The tree has been growing a meter per year and has surpassed in height the Lawson Cypress behind it that it will replace as soon as the dying Lawson Cypress finally dies. The Lawson Cypress has hung on.
One day in 1999, around this time of the year, Harry saw my larch and told me, "Tree dead."
Our conversation after that went like this:
"Tree not dead."
"If tree not dead you do garden free."
"Tree not dead."
In about a week or so all the needles will fall within hours. When I bought the tree, Roy Forster warned me of its eventual size, but he never told me that my evergreen wasn't. In the photo here you can see what my larch looked like yesterday
Madeleine Morris, A Pet Rat & No Walkies
Monday, November 20, 2006
I have read many novels in which protagonists are described as having all the wrong features that, somehow, all add up on the plus side. Such was the case of Madeleine Morris.
It must have been somewhere around 1985 when I first saw her. She was in a crowd at a punk concert. She was wearing blood red lipstick and had a cigarette drooped in her mouth all the time. She had mastered the skill of keeping it lit without the smoke ever getting in her eyes. Her nose was big and her mouth even bigger. She might have had thick and beautiful black hair but it was cropped short and in later years she never let it grow out. I photographed her for the first time because she was the lead singer of a band called Moev. It was an artsy alternative scene band that worked only because of her on-stage presence even if she was barely 5ft tall. I photographed her at home with her pet rat. "I don't have to take him out for walkies, " she said.
Colleen Hughes - Lighthouse Park
Sunday, November 19, 2006
When I only depended on the work that I could crank out from my wet (an enlarger, photo trays and photographic paper) darkroom I could only print what I had time to do and many good photographs never made it past a quick glance at a contact sheet. As my contact sheets added up to thousands, many of these photographs I simply almost forgot in my memory. This blog has re-awakened my past in the same way as my present and ongoing re-filing has. Recently I received a communication via this blog from Colleen Hughes who lives in Alberta. She was one of my muses in my past who patiently allowed me to experiment with my camera, film types and lighting techniques. Her only reward were my 8x10s. These pictures that you see were from my environmental period. At the time my film stocks were Kodak's b+w infrared film and Technical Pan Film. I think that in my policy of not posting revealing nudes here these photographs of Colleen and her beautiful hair pass muster.
Colleen & Son in Tub
And here is Colleen and her son. And yes he did what he was supposed to do in the tub.