Dakota Ambre HamiltonTuesday, August 30, 2011
It is 2011 and my memory of our Thursdays at the Railway Club is an extremely hazy past. Until perhaps the mid to late 1990s I met with friends on Thursdays at the Railway Club on Dunsmuir and Seymour for lunch. Most of us were free-lance writers, illustrators, photographers and designers. There were some writers in the bunch like William Gibson, Evelyn Lau and Peter Trower. We also invited local magazine and newspaper editors. These gatherings were fun and would think impossible to replicate in our ever-so-busy and connected world. I even wonder if we would allow our gatherers to use their phones at the table. Would we allow them to text? Those days were days when people who knew where we were would call us at the Club’s phone and we would get up from the table when told someone wanted us.
The gatherings finally ended as they had to and we attempted a different version in 1997/98 at the much hipper Subeez on Homer. This sputtered out about a year later. But I remember one particular day quite vividly.
I was explaining that my garden was in decline because it was fall and that I wanted to find a woman who might pose for me in the garden. I was looking for a woman over 50 who was past the usual prime that we consider to represent perfection. If possible I was looking for a woman who was not slim. She would represent the wonders of a summer garden in over ripe decadence. You can imagine that I was met in silence most of the time and I became reluctant to ask anybody with fear of being slapped on the spot, “ I am not in over ripe decadence!”
That over ripe woman I never found. But that one day at Subeez when I stated, “I cannot find a woman over fifty who will pose undraped for me,” by a woman who simply and quietly said, “I will.” At the time her name was Ambre Hamilton and I do not remember how I came to know her. She wore short hair and liked to say things just the way they were. She was in the process of writing a novel about women in prison and at the same time telling us her name was no longer Ambre but Dakota. I jokingly gave her the name of Dakota Formerly Ambre (sort of trying relate her name to the 1944 romantic, and quite racy, novel Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor).
I was astounded at Ambre’s ever so casual, “I will.” She came to my studio and posed for me. I used some of the drying thistles from my garden. I was not quite yet ready for strict reportage and I used careful lighting. I don’t think that my photos in any way captured that over-the-top baroque look I had been seeking.
The photos you see here are the ones that in my self-imposed ban on complete nudity I am able to show you. Eleven years later I rather like them. I am happy to report that Dakota Hamilton did publish her book Freedom's Just Another Word