Where the Red Kite Flies Blog Post 9
I went on holiday by mistake.
Okay, so that's not quite true. As much as I'd like to compare my holidays to the film 'Withnail and I' purely for the amusement factor, my summer did not in the slightest bit resemble hanging out with a creepy old uncle in a dark and damp cottage.
For me I think it was more a case of not realising that when I planned my summer, I'd actually be away from home for 9 weeks of it and it turns out that rather than getting over homesickness as I've gotten older, I've become more prone to it.
It was a great summer.
As the nights are starting to draw in earlier and earlier and the lyrics “all the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey” play through my head, I’m reflecting on the summer gone by and steeling myself for the colder, darker months ahead. Whilst I’m getting better at seeing the beauty of autumn and winter, they still don’t bring me the same joy, the same energy of long sunny days. I think I'm still holding onto that feeling of the endless summers from childhood, where growing up in Canada you'd have over 2 months of holidays stretching far ahead of you.
Summer held many highlights for me. There was the trip back 'home' to Canada, my first since the pandemic. One of my favourite parts of being back in my hometown of Toronto was going back to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario), my favourite gallery growing up as mentioned in June's blog. It's been over 20 years since I last went so, as expected, some things had changed. The Henry Moore sculpture, 'Large Two Forms', was no longer out the front of the building but situated in the lovely park around the back. I pushed the boat out and bought an annual pass (less than the cost of 2 visits) and went there 3 times in the 9 days that I was in Toronto. I almost cried when I first entered the rooms that house the Group of Seven artworks. I was so thrilled but more than that, I felt relieved. I had worried that they wouldn't have the same effect on me as they had when I had looked upon the painting as my younger teenage self but there it was, that same feeling of awe and ache that can come from looking at work that moves you on such an emotional, almost indescribable level.
There were also new exhibits and things to see. Entering Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room was a very special experience. Far from the usual experience of viewing art in a crowded gallery, you join a queue for the time of your booking and you have 60 seconds in the room all on your own. It felt precious and magical and that feeling stayed with me for days.
The AGO is still my favourite gallery in the world.
When I got back from Canada, I spent just over a week at home in Malvern and then packed my bags again and set off for Wales to work on my WTRKF project. This included the Dance Camp experience, a little bit of down time at the cabin but it was mostly spent organising and taking photos.
Besides taking and exhibiting photos, the project also includes workshops. At the end of August I held a day of workshops at the eco village community hub building for the young people involved in the project and others from the community. Hannah Fletcher from The Sustainable Darkroom led one about making plant-based developer, using Rosebay Willowherb that was picked from the surrounding area by the participants. Sisters Maisie and Matilda both held workshops, Maisie on puppet making and Matilda (very bravely I must say having only been taught by me the day before) on cyanotypes. For my sessions we used my large format 5x4 camera and, using direct positive black and white paper, we took portraits of each other. These were then developed using the developer that we made earlier with Hannah and produced beautiful prints that feel like they are from another time (Katy: "Wow it's the eco village residents from 1892"). Pictured below are two of my favourites.
But by far my greatest highlight of the workshop was having a day that was focused on the young people of the area getting together, some of whom no longer live on site. I loved seeing them all hang out at the end of the day, playing a game of 'Guess Who?' which happened to be in the hub building, whilst we all hoovered up the last remnants of the mudpie bars, my signature dish, which I tend to bring to every hub event.
It was a fantastic summer, with equal measures of productivity and joy. But sadly everything didn't go totally to plan. I thought about not writing about this but then decided it was important to document the highs and lows of the project process and acknowledge that hey, sometimes things go wrong. After spending the last 3 weeks of my time in Wales making unrepeatable photos for my project, with so many people giving me their time, energy and ideas, I sent a large batch of 120 film, as well some sheets of 5x4, off to the lab I have used for many, many years. And then I heard nothing. And then I heard that the lab has closed down. Very suddenly, on the day that my film should have got there. After many calls to both the lab and to Royal Mail, I'm in a bit of a limbo land of waiting and hoping but I'm heading towards just quite possibly having to accept that I will not get those precious films back. And that hurts.
However, once I've had a bit more of a mourning period I'm going to dust myself off and get the bags packed for another visit to Wales and knowing me I'll try to re-create some of those (potentially) lost images.
So let's end this on a positive note, with notes of CHOCOLATE and PEANUT BUTTER! Here is my recipe for the gooiest, peanut buttery deliciousness that is a Mudpie bar. Enjoy.
(adapted from a recipe by Green Cuisine)
Serves 16 (or 8 greedier people)
1 cup of golden syrup or rice syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of peanut butter
4 cups of Rice Crispies
1.5 cups of pecans (optional, I often skip this)
2.5 cups of chocolate chips or 2 bars of dark chocolate
1 cup of peanut butter
Bring the syrup to a gentle boil, stir in vanilla and 1/2 cup of peanut butter until well mixed. Take off heat and stir in rice crispies and pecans if using.
Sprinkle about 3/4 of the mixture into a glass tray (12"x9"x2") and gently flatten with your hands.
Melt the chocolate in a pan (I do it in what is apparently called a "Bain-marie" but I have been calling a "bamboree") then stir in the 1 cup of peanut butter until melted and well mixed. Pour over the base mixture then top with the remaining rice crispy mixture and pat down lightly.
Refrigerate to set.
Special thanks to Hannah, Maisie and Matilda for holding the workshops and to Cosmo for taking photographs (above centre and right) on the day.
A fantastic and informative site where you can also purchase both digital copies or print copies of their publications.
The bestest of Galleries. Click to find out more about the Yayoi Ksuama exhibition.
They have a digital version of the (gluten free and vegan) recipe book! It's $5! The Praline Brownie recipe is out of this world!