Barbadians exposed to Photography matching Old Masters’ paintings at Lancaster Gallery

I went to a marvelous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence.

Noel Coward

Supremely co-ordinated by Curator Roger Chubb (Who’s now sporting a rather Mephistolic Van Dyke), the same gent that also helped curate Art At The Main Guard last year… You can now get a feel of the energy and fervour of the crowd the other night, lots of magnificent photographic prints were sold and so they should – excellent works all… Studies in juxtaposing colours or examining different ways to highlight the exquisite curiosities of the chiaroscuro of black & white photography from eight talented photographers at the Lancaster Great House.

This group consists of – Rebecca Ali, Adrian Richards, Louise Porter, Dan Christaldi, Corrie Scott, Anton Best, Andrea DaSilva and Bob Kiss.

Eight is a powerful number from even ancient times – it’s one of the reasons the dictatorial Communist regime over in China insisted on starting the Olympics on Triple-8. There were definitely powerful presentations from all artistes, so rather than my photographing a picture, I am, with their mutual permission, hosting Picasa images and showing instead photos I took of the debut night in action along the way so you can feel some of the power which was sizzling that night!

Even the techniques to preserve these images of what they feel their eyes were privilege to are as varied as their method of capturing a moment. Take Bob Kiss for instance, he uses silver gelatin – which some consider as a dated method, but Bob disagrees and says it allows the digital perfection of black & white photography of the studies of various models he shot right there on the grounds of Lancaster to be shown in it fullest expression.

Bob has a very wry grasp of humour and to me resembles an apocryphal cousin of Vincent D’Onofrio in Law & Order, nevertheless, his approach of using philosophy to be expressed in photos is nothing short of phenomenal –

The flora and fauna of this world are neutral and any interpretations of good or evil come completely from you, the viewer. As I worked on these photos, I found allusions to various cultures emerging. For example, in Judaeo-Christian tradition, the serpent is seen as evil, whereas in many African religions, the serpent is seen as life force and the source of knowledge. Perhaps mangos are the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in this Eden. Be certain to look closely before you pick one of those mangos! In ?Alphabet?, the serpent?s form reminded me of beautiful Middle Eastern calligraphy. The series ends with ?Homage to Parvati?. While not trying to depict her directly, I discovered that the dancing shape of the figure evokes Parvati, the consort of Shiva, the Destroyer or Transformer.

These eight prints comprise the first phase of a series of future projects based on the following concepts. Firstly, I deeply believe that it is the fact that we have been misguidedly taught that we are separate from, and superior to, nature that has allowed us to rape our planet and exploit our fellow occupants of this planet. If we saw Earth as our true mother, and our fellow animals and humans as our true brothers and sisters, none of these horrors would be possible. Secondly, I believe that all acts of creation are holy and forms of worship of the one who has created our universe and all of us.

It is so easy to destroy, yet so hard to create! Ask any mother or artist.
Especially that last paragraph, I had never thought of a mother or artist to be so similar until I read that… My favorite was African God, European Demon. Louise Porter’s works are quite different she takes the mundane and approaches them from an angle to use photography to mimic the abstraction of oils or acrylics on canvas. Her methods of preserving her works is a bit more detailed – she uses Epson Ultra Chrome K3 inks on Legion Moab Entrada Rag 100% Cotton Paper with Premier Arts Printshield (a technique not that far from giclee another way to ensure pictures are well-preservedwhich will be explained further in).

Dan Christaldi likes to examine Barbadian nature in a B&W view or look at popular Bajan structures from previously ignored angles, he’s also one of two folks that started out repairing teeth for a living –

I am originally from Pennsylvania in the United States. I owned and operated an orthodontic dental lab but my love was photography. I met my future wife Gina (A Bajan!) when she came to Philadelphia to study, of all things, photography. We met at church introduced through friends, got married, and moved Barbados. I decided to take up photography as a career, so essentially taught myself. Gina gave me the basics that I needed and I read a few books but mostly just experimented a lot! Gina and I work together quite often in our photography business. Each of us having our individual specialties we complement each other on our shoots. As for me, well, I shoot architecture, scenery, products, paying special attention to detail. I see my approach to photography not necessarily from a strictly artistic sense, but more of a technical craft. Yes, creativity is part of it. But for me, I enjoy finding beautiful things and simply showing them at there best. I take photographs of things as I want to see them. I figure that if I enjoy looking at them, then others may as well!

Adrian Richards, who we featured in July, is the other gent versed in making sure folks need not head for Fixodent so soon, LOL! When Adrian is not helping teeth last longer, he is making sure his photos are also well-preserved; Adrian’s technique for protecting his works entails Kodak Endura Supra Luster paper on Acid-Free mats. This in turn is mounted on an acid-free foam-core in a wooden frame.

My favourite from him is his Minotaur Jumbie, but you need to take time and appreciate his “Spirit Of Sea Fan” or “Blackglama” as well, it was a trip to Africa which inspired Adrian to pursue the Art Of The Camera –

Dr Adrian Richards, an Oral Surgeon by profession, decided to teach himself how to take better photos in 2003 after successfully climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He upgraded his knowledge (and camera) due to the disappointing images he had recorded of that trip with his little point and shoot.

For my part, I think people underestimate the power of what they call “POINT&SHOOT“, I use a Nikon L10 Coolpix now, before it was a DXG 552 – both are 5 Megapixels but they are completely different in their approach to holding the image of what the viewer wants to remember! Even in Spider Man 3 with Eddie Brock, they sought to make fun of these similar type of apertures, yet many newsrooms tend to rely on amateur shots from these same type of units to generate hot stories – as Your Say on BBC (which relied heavily on amateur work for the Subway Attacks in 2005) iCaught on ABC or iReport from CNN.

However, let’s return to the purpose of Adrian’s works for when you saunter over by Lancaster (Trust me, you WILL want to do so!) –

Photography for me starts with looking. It requires inspiration, preparation and in many instances a lot of luck. I am by nature impulsive, inquisitive, and eclectic and I am looking to surround myself with beauty. This beauty may be calming and classical, it may be stunning and odd or simply disturbing but hopefully it produces an emotional response in the viewer in all instances.

Most folks know Samud Ali (Next weekend at Obskewer: Surfer’s Cafe, he’s doing a one-man comedy show,Stupid“) – the “insane” deejay with a coffee-mug (“Smiles Davis) as his partner, whose happy-go-lucky manner and high-ratings carried Sam from sagging Mix FM over to Love 104.1 FM where he can be heard chuckling along with the Market Vendor every weekday. But his wife, Rebecca, is quite a personality in her own right, she finds really breathtaking vistas inside of what many ignore and highlights it in a special way –

Rebecca always had a keen interest in anythingcreativeAs a youngster she would make greeting cards for all the family and sew Christmas decorations to sell to friends. Art was always her favourite class at school, and she went on to study Graphic Design. Later she studied Interior Design, fitting her studies around work. She was given her first 110 Kodak camera at 8 but only used it for fun, then at 18 bought a second hand Praktica SLR which is when her real interest in photography began. Rebecca has attended photographic workshops and short training courses but is mostly self taught.

In the last 4 years Rebecca has been inspired by the natural beauty of Barbados and is really enjoying experimenting with, and growing her photographic style; ‘I love Photography and Graphic Art and I find blending the two very satisfying.’

You can view Rebecca Ali’s work at many of the galleries across the island, and she also has a range of greeting cards and prints available in stores.

Another B&W specialist at Lancaster is Anton Best, he also revels in colour – like his view of a green monkey at an extreme close up, Anton also has a number of places for you to see his work out there in cyberspace, but it’s usually best for a personal first encounter, and this can be accomplished via a leisurely drive along the scenic West Coast over to Lancaster

I have been an avid amateur photographer for the last 7 years. I am inspired to photograph a variety of themes. I have particular interests in people, Barbadian heritage, rustic architecture and nature. I am proud to be able to share with you my unrelenting passion for my hobby that I incessantly strive to take to higher heights.

Then there is not only an exhibitor but co-curator, animal rescuer and wonderful painter Corrie Scott, whose dizzying diligence in this show which runs until October. Her inspiration in photography is a remarkable and quirky anecdote well worth sharing –

Corrie, self taught, has photographed, and also scribbled and painted on everything she could find since childhood.

Her first camera, a Brownie, captured her sisters, whom she used to dress up and pose them for modelling for the camera. Her special love of the Caribbean is apparent in her photography and her art.

In her daily travels, and also world travels, Corrie always has a camera close to hand to capture those elusive human moments and those ‘around the corner‘ views that delight. The back light of a flower, a turtle popping its head up above water, a lonely worker in the fields, a huddle of ladies gossiping under and umbrella, the balletic movements of the fishermen as they use their nets. So much that surrounds us.

Also an artist, her exercise books were always full of doodles in the margins, and she was always in trouble for it with her teachers, who felt she was not concentrating on her studies. Working and experimenting in all mediums, she does not restrict herself in subject matter, going from clean representational watercolours to large abstract pieces in acrylics and mixed media.

Her photography and art may be found at Tides Gallery at The Tides Restaurant in Holetown, St James, The Barbados Arts Council Gallery at Pelican Village in Bridgetown, or she may be contacted at her studio (by appointment please as she may be out painting or photographing) on the South Coast in a charming National Trust recognised cottage.

Corrie’s method of ensuring her photos don’t fade, involves the giclee technique – specifically, it is a fancy way to say that special waterproofing material is sprayed onto a print that is also UV-resistant. In full: Corrie undertakes a photographic giclee using Archival Inks on canvas. She then coats with a Satin-Finish Acrylic Poly-Varnish which is anti-sunlight (You should be keeping Fine Art out of direct glare, anyhow). For those of you not familiar with where to go, here’s a map (The reference to Free Valet parking happens only on Opening Nights and is not a regular occurrence) –

This is a magnificent exhibition to make you truly appreciate the modern paintbrush, a la: SLR camera artistry!

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