A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

James Harley Wallwork & The Taking Of Pegasus Bridge
Saturday, April 20, 2013

Account of the Taking of Pegasus Bridge
June 5/6, 1944
James Harley Wallwork
From handwritten manuscript dated November 17, 1999.


Horsa glider tugged by a Halifax

This is how, around midnight June5/6, 1944, one hundred and eighty men in six Horsa gliders slipped quietly into Normandy and gave the Wehrmacht a lesson in how to take a bridge by moonlight.

Ninety minutes into the air, ten minutes on the ground and it was done. Three months training for one rather exciting hour and a half.

How did we feel that night? We were rather busy and very confident.

You see our tug pilots knew they would deliver us to the exact release point at six thousand feet. And we glider pilots knew we could deliver the Ox and Bucks [The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry] into their little field beside what became their favourite bridge. And John Howard [Major John Howard] and his merry men knew to a man that the bridge would be theirs in minutes.


Horsa glider

So, it became just another exercise for all three services, accepted with the cheerful bravado of youth because we didn’t know any better.

Code name for the invasion was Overlord. Code name for this operation was Coup de main, which freely translated means, “this looks rather dangerous.” Code name for the glider pilot training, Deadstick, which we thought rather unfortunate.

There were six glider crews – twelve pilots – all equally skilled and all equally trained, and I speak for all my comrades.

Tugs, gliders and D Company had trained for three months so by June we were all rather good and knew it.

Glider and tug training started in March, graduating from 4,000 feet in daylight to daylight with night-goggles, night with flares, then to 6,000 feet and moonlight only.

From Tarrant Rushton airfield Holmes Clump outside Netheravon, night after night, [we trained] through complete moon periods. With the last sliver of moon we could see enough to land. Doesn’t take much moonlight to make earth look like daylight from 6,000 feet. On the odd occasion when the tow ropes broke and Jerry very un-sportingly interfered with our tugs’ magic navigation system and we were scattered all of Salisbury Plains.

It was a great life. Seven crews, four pilots, a self-contained, completely segregated outfit, we slept during the day, trained at night and took meals where and when.

We only broke three Horsas when Mac and Mowatt wrote them off all at once in a spectacular prang, flying (glider) five – in late and too fast. Though they were no longer fit to fly Deadstick, they were patched in time to joins us in Arnhem a few months later. We were so glad to have that reserve crew who had trained the same in case of this emergency. We were told to be more careful in future as we had run out of spares.


Jim Wallwork's Horsa PF800 on
target at Pegasus Bridge
June 1st. Tarrant airfield was sealed. And then we met the troops, Major John Howard and his pirates from D-Company, Ox and Bucks, who had chosen to do the nasty bit on arrival – frighten the Germans. Howard was the supreme soldier, chosen to command this unique little foray where he collected what was possibly the hardest-earned DSO (Distinguished Service Order). He had inspired his chaps with the ultimate confidence which in a few meetings even began to infect the glider pilots.

John and I became friends after the war, a friendship which lasted until he died this year (1999). I miss him as do the few of his comrades still here.

We (John and I) saw a lot of each other and we knew where and why, but not quite when. But pretty soon we studied photographs and the magnificent relief map of our target until it seemed like our own backyard – and after all these years, it still is. Daily photographs kept the mode up to date, intelligence was most impressive, which as one bloke said, “Someone is taking a lot of trouble over this affair, so we’d better not cock it up or the King will be rather cross.”

In early June, poles were appearing all over Normandy, but not in our little fields as the Germans knew no-one would be daft enough to try a landing there. But one day Jerry did and holes for poles began to appear in our target. Howard was concerned. We pilots were petrified, but we all knew that too much had gone into this attack for cancellation. So, I told John not to worry. Slipping glider between poles at night wasn’t really difficult and would even help slow us down. To my astonishment, he believed as did the troops, bless them. And we almost came to believe it ourselves. But thank Heaven Jerry didn’t have time to install poles.

Came June 5th. We had already cancelled the night before, but this time it was on. Briefing was just that. Courses and times pretty close to those of the Holmes Clump run a week ago. Only difference was that the tugs and glider crews were very much quieter than usual.

No questions this night. Not much of anything. No one wished anyone good luck or anything like that. And we all pottered off to our trucks and the tow path around 22:30.

And there was Howard and his merry men, faces blackened, loaded down with kit and ammo, making nervous jokes and chalking rude messages on PF800 [Jim Wallwork’s Horsa glider] which the Germans wouldn’t have time to read anyhow. For some, a sweetheart’s name. For Wally Parr, his wife Irene. For me, a very small Crystabel for Dickie Hanson, killed in Sicily the year before. He said she was his guiding spirit so I adopted her and Crystabel helped me to Arnhem that year and across the Rhine in 1945. So perhaps Dickie was right.

Fortunately we pilots were very busy checking gliders and praying particularly that tow ropes would hold and that the last minute installation of arrester chutes would behave. Finally the order to emplane. Last crack at the intercom, thumbs up to the tow-master, Halifax slowly taking up the slack and then “Go.” And we started the take-off run which was longer than usual, as our Horsa was heavily overloaded and rather reluctant. But we came unstuck at last and started a steady climb. After a while when steady on course, the boys in the back to sing which is always encouraged in order to help prevent air sickness, which once started runs through the lot regardless of rank, but no one puked. Thank Heave, as the pong always wafted into the cockpit and we pilots go more than our share.

The air was like silk. We reached 6,000 feet as we crossed the English coast, just a few clouds, nothing to worry. Perhaps the invasion fleet on our starboard and perhaps a bit of flak ahead, but too busy to look around.

Word from Duder, our tug skipper, that all’s well and “on target, on time.” Five minutes to cast off. Then five, four, three, two, one, cheers. I pulled the tit (release) and we were free. And quiet. And the singing stopped.

Right on the French coast, up with the nose, get the speed down from 120, gentle turn onto course, 185 degrees, while at the same time checking the air speed at 90 miles per hour. The (I said), “On,” to Johnny Ainsworth who starts the stopwatch. First and long leg is for three minutes and twenty seconds – it’s a long, long time but training pays off as course and speed are held perfectly.

Tempting to look around but chance only a quick glance to starboard. I’m flying from the right hand seat. And there are the river and canal like silver ribbons in the moonlight. It’s quiet, but feels quite comfortable because we both know it is perfect so far.

“Seems a helluva long time, Johnny. Sure your watch is okay?”

“Keep your head down, Jimmy. I’ll tell you when.” And he did. “Five, four, three, two, one. Go.” And I make a controlled, rate one turn to starboard onto next course which is 265 degrees.

And when I am on, I shout, “On!” And Johnny starts the watch again. This is the cross-wind leg of two minutes, five seconds. I can see my target now and though it is tempting to fly the rest by the seat of my pants, training pays and we follow the rules till Johnny gives me a last, “Five, four, three, two, one, “Go!” and I turn in. There it is, straight ahead, but it’s not Holmes Clump tonight.

It’s my guess and by God from here. Too high, half-flap and steady at 90. Still too high, so full-flap, and now we’re coming in a bit quick.

Touch down at the edge of our field removing what must have been a fence, then a hedge which didn’t slow us down either, so ‘Stream’ and the chute dropped out and streamed, giving us on helluva a jolt. So, ‘Drop’ and the chute discarded.

By now we are rolling head and nose down as the front wheel was removed when the chute opened. We are now heading at what is possibly the right speed straight for the embankment. The right speed to breach the wire and be far enough up the field to leave room for numbers two and three which are following. But by then, Johnny and I are no longer much interested [both were unconscious and Jim had been ejected by the sudden stop through the windshield and thus the first allied soldier on French soil].

Jim Wallwork, with bandagem, at hospital after successful
the successful mission.


We came to a few minutes later in the cockpit debris and were pleased to hear that the bridge was ours.

Helped carry ammo from the glider to the chaps, and had a minor argument with Howard regarding gammon bombs when we heard the tank, but that’s another story.

The tow was about an hour. The glide was about six minutes. The blood and snot on the bridge took about ten minutes. Three months training for tug crews, glider pilots and John Howard’s lot for a glorious 90 minutes.

Glad we didn’t miss it.

My name is Jim Wallwork




I first met James Wallwork and his wife Genevieve in Ladner in May 2004. I had been assigned by The Independent in England to take portraits of Wallwork. After years of quiet almost unknown fame Wallwork was suddenly in the news. A book had been published and a film had been made of what was eventually called the Pegasus Bridge in Normandy. I wrote about it here and  here.


Many have considered what would have happened if Staff Sergeant James Wallwork, piloting his Horsa glider Irene at 0016, on June 6 had missed his mark. Wallwork’s No 1 (Irene) landed (a controlled crash) very near the Bénouville Bridge (later renamed, most famously, the Pegasus) on the Caen Canal. The crash sent Wallwork and his co-pilot, Staff Sargeant Ainsworth out of the cockpit, through the perspex canopy and into the ground. Wallwork was the first allied soldier on occupied French soil.

What would have happened? Would Hitler’s Panzers have then crossed on their way to the Normandy beach and perhaps stymied the allied invasion.

I was thoroughly charmed by both Wallwork and his gracious and classy wife Genevieve. We had them weeks later for tea at home.

From the first Wallwork reminded me of actor Adolphe Menjou who played the inflexible and almost blind to the fact that his army (the French army) were sending men into battle as cannon fodder in WWI. Paths of Glory, a brilliant anti-war film by Stanley Kubrick had always left an impression on me and specifically when Kirk Douglas (as Colonel Dax) gives Major General Georges Boulard (Menjou) a killer sermon.

My ambivalent feelings about war were somehow lightened and reinforced towards a positive justification for it knowing that with people like Wallwork having been part of WWII, that war had been fought with good and heroic hands. Chatting with Wallwork filled me with confidence that things were well with our world in spite of everything I might read.



Jim & Genevieve, May 2004
When a month ago I received the invitation, from Genevieve to attend Wallwork’s memorial service today I asked myself if I had an obligation to attend.

I quickly determined that indeed I had an obligation to honour in whatever way I could the bravery and determination of a man who had learned to fly by the seat of his pants with a smile on his face.  He was a man of many a brave act who kept it all to himself.

As I heard his family recall anecdotes of Wallwork’s life who may have been one of the few glider pilots to have been present at missions in Sicily, Arnhem, Normandy and the crossing (by air) of the Rhine, I knew I had made the right decision.

I am glad I didn’t miss it. I am glad I met James Harley Wallwork. My life was enriched.


Jake's Gift

Staff Sargeant James Wallwork 







Jim Erickson - Set Decorator
Friday, April 19, 2013

My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
Jim Erickson - Set Decorator



I have come to the realization that the only time we really look at ourselves is when some one hands us a photo of ourselves they have taken. It is only then, when seen through the eyes of another, we actually see what we look like. And it is unsettling and fascinating.

Mirrors merely reflect what we are doing to ourselves, brushing our teeth, combing our hair, straightening our tie. I doubt most of us never really pay much attention to what we actually look like and, let’s face it, the mirror has no opinion. I think the photo some one else has taken has the point of view of the taker and when I look at it I usually say to myself, “really?”

For the past 25 years I have actively discouraged photos of myself. In fact I have a collection of photos of my back, of me looking at famous world landmarks, The Pyramids in Egypt, Notre Dame in Paris, the reclining Buddha in Thailand, Lake Louise in Alberta. I do not like looking at myself in photos. I think they might be too honest and don’t match the sense of self I have of myself which seems to be a slim 22 year old with a full head of hair.

I am now 63. I have had a great career in the film business, have seen more of the world than I ever dreamed, have learned more about this fascinating life than I ever thought possible, have been in love and have been loved, I have been close enough to death to appreciate this life, and I now am round with thin short hair. In this photo I see all that. There is a twinkle in my eye that gives me a sense of humour and a sense of a settled life and maybe even a true sense of self.




Alexandra Hill Soprano
Georgina Elizabeth Isles Figure Model
Emma Middleton Actor
Mark Pryor Author/Lawyer/Assistant DA Travis County TX
Brother Edwin Charles Reggio, CSC Mentor & Teacher
Veronica Vex Burlesque Dancer
George McWhirter Poet
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor Padre-Compadre
Alexandra Waterhouse-Hayward Maestra
Shirley Gnome Singer/Provocateur
Yeva & Thoenn Glover Dancers/Choreographers
JJ Lee Writer
Jacqueline Model
Cathy Marsden Psychiatrist
André De Mondo Wanderer
Colin MacDonald Saxophonist/Composer
Nina Gouveia Yoga Instructor
Stacey Hutton Excercise Physiologist
Colleen Wheeler Actor
Sarah Rodgers Actor, Director,Mother
Timothy Turner - Real Estate Agent
Kiera Hill Dancer
Johnna Wright & Sascha Director/Mother - Son/Dreamer
Decker & Nick Hunt Cat & 19th century amateur
George Bowering Poet
Celia Duthie Gallerist
Linda Lorenzo Mother
Katheryn Petersen Accordionist
Stefanie Denz Artist
Ivette Hernández Actress
Byron Chief-Moon Actor/Dancer
Colin Horricks Doctor
Ian Mulgrew Vancouver Sun Columnist
Jocelyn Morlock Composer
Corinne McConchie Librarian
Rachel Ditor Dramaturg
Patrick Reid Statesman, Flag Designer
Michael Varga CBC Cameraman
Bronwen Marsden Playwright/Actress/Director
David Baines Vancouver Sun Columnist
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward Photographer
Lauren Elizabeth Stewart Student
Sandrine Cassini Dancer/Choreographer
Meredith Kalaman Dancer/Choreographer
Juliya Kate Dominatrix



Whence They Came?
Thursday, April 18, 2013

Roksana
scanned Kodak b+w Infrared neg



In 2004 I had a lovely Polish student at Focalpoint. As soon as she finished the course I was teaching she enquired if I would photograph her. I thought about it and decided that since she was over 20 and no longer my student or attending Focal Point this was Kosher.

Roksana is as close as I have ever approached to taking pictures of someone I would call a “James Bond Girl” type of woman. To boot not only was she heavenly beautiful (an adorable pair of legs and a bum to follow over a cliff) she was also smart and a banker in London.



I took some very nice shots including some with my 35mm Nikon loaded with the now discontinued Kodak B+W Infrared Film.

Just yesterday I tried something which was inspired by a long and wonderful sunny day working in the garden. I was tired and it was still light for me to sit by my monitor while I gazed at the back garden. The presence of my Epson V-700 scanner to my left jarred me into the experiment. The contact sheet to the negatives (I have darkened it for propriety) had deteriorated into a sepia as perhaps I had not washed the contact sheet (that awful but easy Ilford Multigrade paper that was impossible to wash well). I scanned a few and then enlarged them to 4 inches long at 300 dpi. I was amazed on how beautiful they are. I am now wondering if I should include (as giclées made by Grant Simmons at DISC) a few of these for my show, May 4 at the Duthie Gallery. What might you who are reading think of the idea?

















The Medium Of My Message
Wednesday, April 17, 2013


In 1963 my friend Robert Hijar was studying art at the University of the Americas. This was a university in the outskirts of Mexico City that had come to existence in the early 50 when American soldiers full of dollars from the GI Bill decided they might as well study in Mexico. I was struggling as a second year engineering student but I dabbled in photography.



Veronica Vex
Scanned Fuji Instant print
Hijar had access to the university darkroom so he showed me how to process film and print b+w negatives. Loaded with our best negatives (not all that good) we would take the Toluca Rocket which was a second class bus, diesel powered and with a transmission that had many gears. The bus would take us to the university late at night when nobody was around and we had the room to ourselves.

We took our fave records but Hijar, whose parents were CIA agents had access to wonderful reel to reel tape machines. We listened to Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Stan Getz. In Mexico there was always something interesting to snap on the street, outside a church or inside a church.


Veronica Vex
Scanned Fuji Instant negative
Now 70 I know nobody who may be my peer who is remotely interested in what I do with photography. An Englishman who works at Beau Photo says that people buy a digital camera there and then they do not return. We who shoot film come back often. He likes us (the few of my age and all those young students who are taking photography in art colleges and institutes around the city) because we are social. We chat (face to face sans Skpe).

For my upcoming show opening May 4 on Celia Duthie's  Duthie Gallery on Salt Spring Island (for which I have no illusions, since I will be rich and famous only when I am dead) I am clearing my darkroom of all boxes of ancient paper, Brovira, Forte, Oriental and some newer boxes of Ilford Warm-Tone paper. I am printing almost every day. Some of the negatives I am printing are negatives I may have taken in the last couple of months. I would call this new old stuff.


Nina
Straight scanned 6x7 cm b+w negative

But there is another aspect of my present photography that has me playing Stan Getz/Focus as I type now. That’s how excited I am. The process involves the use of Fuji Instant Black & White FP-3000B pack film that fits in my Mamiya’s Polaroid back. This film is almost Polaroid but not quite. It is the not quite that is the exciting part. Those 7x7 cm b+w prints are beautiful and a good scan (I have a very good scanner) does them justice. It is the “negative” that you peel off that is the novel feature of this very fast (3200 ISO) film. The peel, somehow randomly solarizes as it dries.

Most reading this might remember Man Ray’s solarized prints of the 30s. To do this he would place an exposed sheet of photographic paper in the developer tray, and somewhere during the development he would turn on the darkroom light for a tad. The photograph would then partially reverse. This process is called solarization. That process when performed on a negative (not the print) is called the Sabattier Effect. My Fuji peels go Sabattier!

Once dry I scan them. Since my scanner, unless I tell it not to, will scan the peel in four colours (red, green blue and black) I can tint the resulting scan to whatever colour I choose.

These scanned peels when transformed into giclées by my artist friend and expert Grant Simmons at DISC are a beauty to behold.

“But wait,” as they say on TV, “there’s more!” While Man Ray could have photographed his solarized prints and then printed the negatives on direct positive paper, as far as I know he never did. He would have made very strange un-reversed prints. But I can, see here


Nina
Scanned b+w negative and reversed
With Photoshop or any other photo program like the very much cheaper and pretty nice Corel Paint Shop Pro I can simply click on reverse and my Sabbatier Effect digital file will be transformed.

This excitement made me go to some nudes I took of the excellent and beautiful  Nina Gouveia (now residing, alas, in Spain) where I had handed her a bolt of silver polyester satin and I had used my ring flash as the light. I scanned one of the negs and I was amazed!

Now there are three ways to reproduce these (that you see here) as hard copy:

1. By far the easiest is to scan and send the digital file to Grant Simmons. He will interpret (as I know he always does) my file and produce a wonderful giclée.

2. The second method I might use but not quite yet. Beau Photo sells a direct positive photographic paper. Normally this paper is used by photographers with large cameras who insert the paper, instead of film and might use a pinhole lens for the h of it. This way when they process the paper they get a direct print.

3. Alex (that’s me) has several boxes of Kodak Kodalith in 8x10 and 4x5 sheets. The boxes are labeled with a word that must have been invented by Kodak – “Discontinuance”.


Nina in satin reversed

In method three I project my Nina negative onto the Kodalith sheet (it is plastic like the film of old). I must use a red safety light or the Kodalith will fog. I then process it as if it were paper. Once dry I have a very nice b+w, 8x10 or 4x5 slide (in this size it is called a transparency). If I put the slide on a sheet of photographic paper and expose to the enlarger (with nothing inside the negative carrier, I should have a beautiful reversed print (but I cannot make it blue or any other colour except sepia or slightly magenta depending on the toner I might dip the print into).




My Personal Take On Eros
Tuesday, April 16, 2013




For the last few days I have been printing negatives in my darkroom that are of erotic content. They will be viewable here as of May 4.

I will not discuss  the difference between images that are pornographic and those that are erotic. It seems that in this 21st century it is a difficult subject to broach in company. What is pornography? Does God exist? What are your views on abortion? Is art dead? These are subjects best left alone.

Every once in a while I post photographs in this blog that are racy. The fact that I have has meant that a few established botanical websites and a few people of note have refused to link to my blog or to agree to appear in it. And this is even though I have been quite careful to self-censor what photographs I insert in this blog.

I find that my interest and concern in eroticism is growing with age and not diminishing. If this is an obsession I find it a healthy one as it keeps me off the streets.

I am 70 and what I find erotic now is completely different from my views as a much younger man. These, I believe are a tad more sophisticated. When I was in my mid teens I would purchase whatever Mexican magazine that featured anything on Brigitte Bardot. The only racy stuff was her cleavage. I found that wonderful. To this day I respond to cleavage and I must add that the smaller the breasts the better the cleavage. I smile at the idea that we men (or this man) can make so much out of what really is empty space (a concavity) between two convexities that would be meaningless without it.

By the time I arrived in Vancouver in 1975 taking photographs of any woman who would take her clothes off for me was erotic even if my first attempts were of the type, “Have you noticed how a female nude bodyscape resembles those dunes in the Sahara?” Yes I was stupid.


But in my first real photographic nude of a woman called April I managed to include in her smooth body as she lay on the sands of Wreck Beach, some dark sand in her toes. People told me that spoiled the picture. I came to understand that when something wasn’t quite right with a photograph it became more interesting and in the case of April it was my first erotic photograph. Without suspecting it the photograph had a connection with a Japanese film I had seen with a Buenos Aires girlfriend in the mid 60s called The Woman in the Dunes. I now know that the physical part of me responds (doesn’t anybody else?) to memories of the past. These memories can be of real experiences, imagined experiences, or from books, music, theatre, art and opera. It was only last week that I saw Harry Beaumont’s 1924 silent film, Beau Brummel. When John Barrymore gazes (in the start of the film) at Mary Astor (in a brilliant white dress and about to be married to someone else) I was transfixed by the eroticism of the scene, a scene of which in some way I will eventually transpose (even if hidden to most) to my own purpose.


April, Wreck Beach circa 1978

A few years after my Vancouver arrival I was a passenger on a Beaver that was about to land in Coal Harbour, the pilot suddenly swerved and we almost crashed. When I deplaned and a beautiful woman wearing hot pants (Tarren was her name) said, “How are you doing Alex? Where are you coming from?” the pilot said, “You know her? She was the reason we almost crashed! I became distracted.” What the pilot had seen was that wonderful smooth crease that Tarren had just below those very short, shorts - a sort of below-the-belt kind of cleavage.

Tarren

One type of photographic image that never did inspire me to rampant sexual rapture is what is commonly called glamour. I absolutely hate cutesy poses (a reason why I dislike most modern and local burlesque dancers). I hate women in bikinis posing by muscle cars. I hate women making it like they are going to lower their bikini bottoms. I hate all banana and lollypop shots. I hate women dressed or undraped on railroad tracks (wearing or not wearing angel wings). I hate women attempting to look sexy on a motorcycle. I hate it when a woman posing for me attempts to look sexy by pursing their lips. I just hate glamour. Glamour is Grace Kelly fully dressed. That glamour I like.

So what is left that may be erotic for me?

As humans we have a limited supply of orifices. These orifices are blatantly exploited in pornography. Thus orifices as such do not excite me in the least. I have the same opinion for that often used action that is called insertion and particularly the repeated perpetual motion one.


I have a friend who is a professional dominatrix. One of her more popular acts, for which she gets very good money, is to sit on men’s faces. She also ties up her men and women. This is something I have never understood. I cannot figure out bondage and I have no desire to feel helpless. And yes I am ticklish everywhere.


Fetish in general bores me to death. I avoid all those Thursday Fetish Nights in Burnaby like the plague. Fetish rules are so firmly established, it is so mainstream, that fetish can no longer shock me. Fetish stopped being so after Bettie Page ceased posing in middle-American living rooms.

So what do I find erotic? Marilyn Monroe playing paddle ball on a rubber string in the Misfits with all those polka dots of her dress moving around like crazy is erotic. And yet when I photographed Elliott Erwitt, the stills photographer for that John Huston film, he could not recall the dress! That shows that Eros is something extremely personal.

With that in mind I have determined that I have my own personal idea of what is erotic and I have been pursuing it for many years. With the advent of my scanner, I have been able to enlarge negatives from the past that I never noticed before. I have found Eros in my past as well as shooting Eros in the present; in fact I shot some last week.

The one rule is that sand-in-the-toes thing. There has to be an element that is not quite right, that is off.

At least 20 years ago I participated in a group show with two other photographers. It was billed as a show of nudes. In those days of early Vancouver feminism I distinctly remember someone commenting on the guest book (a very bad idea that most galleries have discontinued), “Thanks Alex, for showing us their faces.”

In those days the removal of a woman’s face was seen as cruel and sexist depersonalization. I had an acquaintance from Wreck Beach of whom was said had a file of his photographs that used “parts” as the organizer.

But now I find that taking pictures of a woman wearing a mask or taking pictures of some of those parts can be awfully erotic. It has nothing to do with seeing the parts but more of visions based in memory of gestures, slow movements, subtle sounds and the smells that even after eons away from our caves we can still perceive.

I have an artist friend in Salt Spring Island,  Stephanie Denz, with whom I share a delight in the Eros to be found in voyeurism. Of late I have been including myself in mirror images where you can see me with my camera while taking pictures of my subject.

Stephanie Denz
In the age of the Brazilian I find hair supremely erotic. But at the same time as a man, a heterosexual man who does not deny the feminine in me, I see a woman’s outer genitalia as an example of nature’s perfect example of the streamlined shape. I equate the vulva (in particular the bare Brazilian type) to that other perfect example of a smooth, streamlined shape - the Chinese spoon. A classic Chinese spoon should be part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art right next to Chrysler’s Airflow and the Tatra 87, and a vulva perhaps?




Monday, April 15, 2013

It’s a retrospective for as long as you are still alive.
Bob Mercer


Werner Herzog, Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' ,  Bronwen Marsden & her violin


For years when people asked me what I was I always answered, “I am a photographer”.

In 1989 I met a pushy, aggressive American photographer, Robert Blake. But in the end he always meant well. He called me up one day (after I had given him a tour of my home and home darkroom) to tell me, “Alex, the Exposure Gallery on Beatty Street is having a show of nude photography. You have some nice ones on your darkroom wall. You should participate.” I must confess that until that moment I had never ever considered my photographs to be beyond technically okay. I never saw them as art. Even now I loathe the over-the-top “artist’s statement” that often accompanies shows of dubious content.

Since 1989 I have had many shows, at least three on-man shows and the end result is always the same. People I have invited do not show up and days later they ask me, “How was the show, Alex?” I feel like telling them, “fuck off” but I sit on my temper and answer, “It was all right.”

After a few gallery openings I came to realize that the best moment happened right after the hanging at the show. Except for a few friends you could sit down and think of all the work that went into it. After that it was never that good.

Some of us know that Diane Arbus had a show on Friday. Saturday morning she woke up to a world that was no different from the day before. Arbus eased herself into a warm tub and slit her wrists. I call that “post opening blues”.

I soon went one up on Arbus by inventing the pre-post-opening blues. I would get depressed soon after hanging the show.

The most obvious result of having an opening is the tremendous expense of framing and matting not to mention the boxes and boxes of photographic paper I use up. Each print must be as perfect as can be.

People tell me, every time I am about to open, “It is going to be different this time. You can never tell.” Friend Robert Blake always would tell me (and I was always infuriated by the statement), “You cannot win the lottery unless you buy a ticket.”

After 24 years of on and off gallery shows I am cynical and blasé.

You might have an exquisite portrait of Liv Ullmann would pay any kind of money to buy it? I have long decided to ignore my wife’s request to have a show of all “my famous people”. As a student recently asked me in a photo class, “Can you show us any portraits of people who are still alive?”

There are these large and stunning giclées (artspeak for well made ink jet prints) of roses and plants from my garden that I scan. Viewers will be amazed but get confused when I tell them that they are scanographs and that I am a scanographer. From Ullmann to Rosa ‘Reine Victoria” they go to the next photograph and shortly leave the gallery leaving me quite empty.

As a young boy my grandmother saved me from all kinds of spankings and punishment by saying, “Alex is an artist. I am an artist. You have to give him room to expand.” But most of my life I have avoided calling myself an artist. I have been a successful portrait and editorial photographer. If you call yourself an art photographer and you fail you really fail.

I abhor all those artspeak words like image instead of photograph or people who say, “I am going to make a photograph.” I loathe the modern term capture, “Nice capture, Alex!” and loathe and abhor are not good enough to opine on “Nice pic, Alex!”

With all that out of the way, imagine my surprise when Celia Duthie offered me a show in her Duthie Gallery on Salt Spring Island. My expenses will not be huge as most of the stuff in my basement is either framed or nicely matted.

The problem with that is that you then face the concept of the retrospective. Retrospective in artspeak is the equivalent of the golden rocking chair/gold watch/retirement/roast. “Here is this plaque for your laudable contribution. Now go home and die and give room for the young.”

I cannot explain fully the warmth and enthusiasm of Celia Duthie and her husband Nick Hunt have for my upcoming show that will open early May (I do not know the date yet). They keep telling me, “We do not need to sell. You deserve a show so people will understand the breadth of your work. People simply do not know.”

I counter with the fact that the show will be open to the inhabitants of Salt Spring, I do not know of anybody in Vancouver willing to brave the ferry schedules and the fact that you cannot go to the island for just one day. You must spend the night.

This leaves being able to promote the show via the internet and Celia Duthie has a good website.

Initially Duthie wanted to have a show of my substantial erotic output. She said something like, “I want to shock the inhabitants of the island.” After I sent her some samples she said, “Alex my gallery is a family gallery.”

I believe that the portraits of the famous people will be up right next to the scans of my garden plants. It will be a nice show and everybody will leave pleased and the cash register will not ring.

I also believe that my erotic photographs and giclées which will be housed in an interior room, guarded by Nick Hunt (in a police uniform and holding an Ak-47, perhaps?) will draw people in. The photographs will not be larger than 8x10 (all custom printed by yours truly in my darkroom) and the giclées will be 5x7. Could it be possible that some might buy these and frame them and put them in hidden sections of their living rooms?

There is one aspect of this show for which I am thankful to Duthie. Even though this show is a retrospective (I am alive right now) I am shooting and have been shooting the last six months new erotic material. One ambition is to have something up on the wall on opening night that I may have taken two or three days before. I have always believed that a photographer is as good as his last photograph. If the photographer is supposed to also be an artist I cannot comment. You will have to judge my recent output to make up your mind.

I thank Duthie for my recent spasm of passion and enthusiasm. I am excited!




Alexandra Hill - Soprano
Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
Alexandra Hill - Soprano





Alex meets Alex. What a pleasure! Or as he put it “what fun!” What fun indeed, I thought, as I sat next to him at his editing desk last Sunday afternoon looking at the Polaroids [Fuji Instant Film] just scanned into his PC. It is not every day that one is asked to take part in such creativity. What fun, as he dunks his cookie into his Earl Grey tea! What fun, as I pose in the dress my mother made me and the shawl his mother gave him, Russian Red lipstick and hair up. What fun that our paths should have crossed at all!

Had you asked Alex ten years ago if he’d ever take portraits of people for such a project, he’d have said no.

Had you asked me this time last year if I would be singing the soprano solos in Bach’s St. John Passion, I too would have said no. No way. No thank you. Not possible.

A wise friend once told me: enjoy the process. His words have never left my mind. If I am to dedicate my life to music, I had better enjoy the processes involved with that career choice, and forget about end-gaining. I had better enjoy the nuances of many different languages. I had better enjoy learning to disorganize and reorganize the beauty of an aria and to enjoy the time it takes to discover and rediscover a character. I had better learn to appreciate and enjoy the ever changing human body that houses my voice. I had better learn to enjoy an unending quest for simplicity and perfection, the treasures that await every artist at the end of the rainbow.

I am. The process is marvelous. My eyes and ears have been opened to new challenges and to new perspectives.

It is my guess that Alex Waterhouse-Hayward, who uses film to capture the subjects of his Red-Shawl Project rather than the digital medium, also enjoys the process, perhaps on both a figurative and literal level. And I believe he puts the process in the best of light: What fun!



Georgina Elizabeth Isles Figure Model
Emma Middleton Actor
Mark Pryor Author/Lawyer/Assistant DA Travis County TX
Brother Edwin Charles Reggio, CSC Mentor & Teacher
Veronica Vex Burlesque Dancer
George McWhirter Poet
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor Padre-Compadre
Alexandra Waterhouse-Hayward Maestra
Shirley Gnome Singer/Provocateur
Yeva & Thoenn Glover Dancers/Choreographers
JJ Leewriter
Jacqueline Model
Cathy Marsden Psychiatrist
André De Mondo Wanderer
Colin MacDonald Saxophonist/Composer
Nina Gouveia Yoga Instructor
Stacey Hutton Excercise Physiologist
Colleen Wheeler Actor
Sarah Rodgers Actor, Director,Mother
Timothy Turner - Real Estate Agent
Kiera Hill Dancer
Johnna Wright & Sascha Director/Mother - Son/Dreamer
Decker & Nick Hunt Cat & 19th century amateur
George Bowering Poet
Celia Duthie Gallerist
Linda Lorenzo Mother
Katheryn Petersen Accordionist
Stefanie Denz Artist
Ivette Hernández Actress
Byron Chief-Moon Actor/Dancer
Colin Horricks Doctor
Ian Mulgrew Vancouver Sun Columnist
Jocelyn Morlock Composer
Corinne McConchie Librarian
Rachel Ditor Dramaturg
Patrick Reid Statesman, Flag Designer
Michael Varga CBC Cameraman
Bronwen Marsden Playwright/Actress/Director
David Baines Vancouver Sun Columnist
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward Photographer
Lauren Elizabeth Stewart Student
Sandrine Cassini Dancer/Choreographer
Meredith Kalaman Dancer/Choreographer
Juliya Kate Dominatrix



     

Previous Posts
While the Greek Music Lasts

Is She The Duchesse?

Abraham Darby - Three Men & an Over the Top Rose

Doctor Pat McGeer - The Basketball Player

The State of Being Alone

Red

Grace & Elegance

I hoed and trenched and weeded

Performances That Have Melted Into Thin Air

Love Is Doing - Rosemary Does



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3/1/15 - 3/8/15

3/8/15 - 3/15/15

3/15/15 - 3/22/15

3/22/15 - 3/29/15

3/29/15 - 4/5/15

4/5/15 - 4/12/15

4/12/15 - 4/19/15

4/19/15 - 4/26/15

4/26/15 - 5/3/15

5/3/15 - 5/10/15

5/10/15 - 5/17/15

5/17/15 - 5/24/15

5/24/15 - 5/31/15

5/31/15 - 6/7/15

6/7/15 - 6/14/15

6/14/15 - 6/21/15

6/21/15 - 6/28/15

6/28/15 - 7/5/15

7/5/15 - 7/12/15

7/12/15 - 7/19/15

7/19/15 - 7/26/15

7/26/15 - 8/2/15

8/2/15 - 8/9/15

8/9/15 - 8/16/15

8/16/15 - 8/23/15

8/23/15 - 8/30/15

8/30/15 - 9/6/15

9/6/15 - 9/13/15

9/13/15 - 9/20/15

9/20/15 - 9/27/15

9/27/15 - 10/4/15

10/4/15 - 10/11/15

10/18/15 - 10/25/15

10/25/15 - 11/1/15

11/1/15 - 11/8/15

11/8/15 - 11/15/15

11/15/15 - 11/22/15

11/22/15 - 11/29/15

11/29/15 - 12/6/15

12/6/15 - 12/13/15

12/13/15 - 12/20/15

12/20/15 - 12/27/15

12/27/15 - 1/3/16

1/3/16 - 1/10/16

1/10/16 - 1/17/16

1/31/16 - 2/7/16

2/7/16 - 2/14/16

2/14/16 - 2/21/16

2/21/16 - 2/28/16

2/28/16 - 3/6/16

3/6/16 - 3/13/16

3/13/16 - 3/20/16

3/20/16 - 3/27/16

3/27/16 - 4/3/16

4/3/16 - 4/10/16

4/10/16 - 4/17/16

4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17