Fungus Fair?

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Somewhere between Anchorage but closer  to Girdwood I spotted a sign Fungus Fair! I thought the plural of fungi was fungi but maybe not??  My curiosity aroused I hung a right and drove down a gravel road and discovered the Fungus Fair in a community hall. I was welcomed to  enter and look around. This is an annual event on the Gidwood Calendar and about 40 people were milling about admiring and  discussing the plates of fungi laid out on trestle tables.  They were  all labelled carefully and some were fresh while others seemed rather dry. There is no competition, just a chance  for fungi lovers to get together. I was welcomed in  and allowed to photograph. The Chinese woman behind the desk selling t shirts etc told me there is a large Fungus Fair in California annually.

There were  craft sales and serious books for sale and a local art gallery also featured some stained glass and wooden fungi in various shapes. A celebration to follow which sounded interesting for sure Mushrooms & Martinis…but I won’t be attending that little soirée.!imageimageimageimageimage

They had quilts, T-shirts and all in all were a serious group of Fungus lovers… A little obscure story from Alaska!!imageimage imageimage

Anyone hungry!!! I guess not.image

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Abandoned Beauty

HOT OF THE PRESS –  SOME NEW UNPUBLISHED IMAGES by ANDRE GOVIA.blog2

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Andre Govia is renowned for his Abandoned Interiors from a Europe long forgotten. I would be too scared to enter these old derilect buildings, to start with I don’t like spiders, however he doesn’t show us any creepy crawlies. Andre shows us the beauty in these deathly empty interior, his images ask the viewer questions about these abandoned ‘scapes’.WHY? WHERE? who knows,  After all they are trespassing with what they say are good intentions. Legally they walk a fine line; Andre and his  fellow explorers  share his passion and explore the forgotten, locked up, heart breaking architectural gems long left to the ravishes of nature and time. Some folks call Urban Exploration a sport, not yet included in the Olympics. Andre is one of numerous Urban explorers residing in the UK, he is  one of the best.

I asked Andre a few questions…

I read somewhere that Andre isn’t your real name, perhaps that’s why the authorities haven’t caught you trespassing, is that true??

Well Andre is my real name and authorities don’t have anything to do with what myself and other explorers do, most locations are private and fall outside any government interest. I have been caught like most others who participate in Urban exploring, That is one of the attractions, the challenge of getting into guarded locations taking photos and getting out again. Getting caught is part of the possibilities but me and other explorers always show respect to guards and police if found as they are only doing their job .

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 Have you ever been caught trespassing and if so what happened?

Yes I have been caught like many others in abandoned buildings in more than one country. The police are often very interested why we go to so much risk and drama to get into buildings sneaking around alarms and cameras to get a shot but understand once they see out passion and determination to complete the task. As soon as they search us and see that we are not taking goods from a location or have damaged the building in any way then we are normally asked to leave, the same for guards who just want to keep us out of a very dangerous building.
One of the golden rules is never name the locations, selfish yes, but necessary. After al they are trespassing with what they say are good intentions. Legally they walk a fine line between creativity and vandalism although they never touch or damage the interiors. abandoned-childrens-Tuberculosis-sanatorium

Why were these buildings abandoned with no one trying to sell the piano, light fittings etc.? 

Buildings are often left for many reasons so hard to say, we love to investigate before going to a good abandoned building, an abandoned metal hospital and old school or mansion house in the woods all have a history that adds to the experience and why they are closed and abandoned, I explore around the world and countries have different laws about what happens to buildings when their purpose in no longer required and what becomes of them after that. Myself and other urban explorers document decay and abandoned buildings without damage or theft .Then you have another fraternity who just find out where a location is and steel whatever is left for personal gain (hence why I never give location information) Then you have Another group who just arrive at a location and smash and vandalize everything, People who tar urban explorers in the same category as vandals and thieves really have no idea and I have no time for shallow people like that . Yes we are trespassers and yes we are often are in places we should not be taking photos and exploring but that’s all

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Andre’s day job is being a film cameraman for a TV company. He does film editing for US and UK networks.I first discovered his work on Flick’r a photo sharing site we both enjoy. Yes his real name is Andre Govia.
I mentioned his book Abandoned Planet in a recent blog.
Andre’s work is haunting, compelling, frightening and so much more. On one page of his book ‘Abandoned Planet’ there were marble memorial slabs, so I googled the names to discover these were long forgotten headstones of prominent aristocratic men who lived in Belgium in the late 1700’s. I had always thought of marble headstones as a permanent memorial, but maybe they are not! Theatres, hospitals, schools long abandoned but not empty, wheel chairs and hospital beds slowly rusting. It challenges ones ideas of waste that is for sure! Sad that no one has restored them to their magnificence. Maybe one day…maybe never.blog4blog10 blog9

Some of the interiors are quite dark; how long are the longest exposures?   Taking photos in boarded up abandoned building with low light is a challenge that I have mastered in my own way with a mix of long exposure and light painting if needed . Others use a way that works better for them to create a style they like. All buildings have a different issue to get the shot you desire from moving floors to no floors and total darkness and the danger from falling roofs and chemicals in the air.

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Two more questions –  Do you have a favourite building? If so where and why? 

My favourite location so far has been West Park Asylum (name given because it no longer exists) , A vast complex of buildings set in Woodlands in the UK , On my 43 visits there I still managed to find areas of the hospital that I had not seen before and it almost became an addiction , the musky smell of damp and decay along with that sterile hospital smell was unique and kept myself and others coming back for more , I was even there on Christmas day once for 7 hours in -6 temperature in the snow . It had it all, cctv long corridors, guards with dogs great creepy wards and danger. I had been caught there a few times and the guards even knew my name from past encounters but the game of cat and mouse continued up to the demolition and conversion day.

 How many Urban explorers are there in the UK these days?

That is a difficult question to answer to be honest. Its matter of separating urban explorers and people who find an abandoned building and take photos in it because it’s in fashion. Urban explorers are people who explore taboo locations and often document them with photos and video anything from drains to rooftops and buildings. Then you have photographers who go into abandoned building to only take photos (sometimes with models etc.) But yes it is popular at the moment but many people have been injured by just walking into buildings without taking time to prepare for the dangers within. Urban exploring is dangerous without a doubt and you only have yourself to blame if you get hurt or even robbed within an abandoned building that often  could have drug users unstable floors , Asbestos etc .

THANKYOU ANDRE… I HOPE OUR PATHS CROSS AGAIN.

There are more hauntingly beautiful Andre Govia images here and his Flick’r site email Andre  andre.govia@usa.comblog8 blog7 blog6

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Thankyou Andre for sharing your adventures  and the fact that you don’t like spiders either!   We have perhaps 5-6 older  buildings ( 100 years) in New Zealand, Government built , plain architecture.  Kingseat, Hokitika Govt. Building.   Give them a few more years 🙂 Internationally the game is on. More and more sites are being invaded such as this remote site in Kazakhstan. I can’t imagine the consequences of being caught there!!

I also enjoyed an exhibition in Auckland  a year or two ago of Detroit’s abandoned landscape by Frank Schwere.

Guest Photographer – Jenny Couldrey

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Jenny is not your ‘normal’ photographer, anything but. Jenny is in a class of her own. Her mind is churning out creative ideas daily when most of us sit around hoping for some inspiration. Not only does Jenny think creatively, she acts on her ideas. While living in Rotorua Jenny held a very successful exhibition at the local Arts Centre. If I use the word miniatures some of you will switch off, but don’t. These were miniature photographs on glass, they almost could be called Medallions, after all you can hold them in the palm of your hand. As a group they make a statement, individually they are delicate and are part of a story. Mashkio Medailles in 2008 said “Medallions and Medals are 2 and 3 dimensional works, they are small enough to be appreciated in the hand, as if one is holding the entire idea of the artist” ( NZ Contemporary Medallion Group Jenny’s miniature works were on repurposed glass plates, with natural timber used to display these delicate morsels; in a play with scale, others were printed on large (600 x 600mm) glazed ceramic tiles and as framed art prints.

 

Artists Statement…

“We must live with the earth and deal with each other with compassion. If that word was a rule for living war, conflict and insults to Gaia would be irrelevant concepts. Difference would be accepted and respected. Violence would have no place. Balance would be a realistic goal.

Since I can remember I have felt very close to the earth and the natural world, Artemis is my muse. The explorer in me wants to understand all the whys and wherefores of this life. Art making allows me to make a translation of what I find. It’s a cleansing process. It allows interpretation of that which can’t be explained. It tells my stories.

Although the work I make has it’s beginnings in camera I don’t always feel a need for the endpoint to retain direct connection with the conventional idea of a photograph. Adding a third dimension is often more satisfying and relevant. Conceptual threads, weaving themselves through the timeline of my life, are related in some way to the human/earth/universe balance.

Capture is intuitive, and sometimes at the moment of pressing the shutter it is not always clear what it is that is connecting, or how the frame will be woven, although there is a thought running through me. In production I become aware of frames that have significance. From there I continue the intuitive process and find that the pictures largely make themselves. Sometimes they come in dreams. All are a response of my subconscious to concepts that have been developing from a point of observation of without from within.”

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These works might only measure 2cm each. Collectively they make an intimate statement hung in small groups at eye level where one can enjoy the intricacy of the patterns.

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Jenny, you grew up in a family where your grandfather was keen on photography, what are your first memories of using a camera?

I don’t remember being very old, but I was always fascinated by Grandpa peering down into the ground glass screen of his Rollei as he recorded our family life. I can remember him carefully fitting the strap around my neck and letting me look into it, and my surprise at the milky, upside down vision that revealed itself. I’m not sure he ever let me press the shutter though! Film was a bit precious. Later I found Dad’s old box brownie, he bought me some film, and I was in heaven! One clear memory is a picture I made of my friend, sitting cross-legged on the path running around our house with a lap full of baby bunnies, and more of them perched on her shoulders. Our dog had dug up the burrow so she and I had rescued them and had them living in the hot water cupboard. I photographed everything I could when I had that camera, with no knowledge of any of the “rules” pertaining to the medium. It was just my way of making sure I could treasure, and relive, a moment that moved me.

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Do you have that photo to share with us?

It is definitely still around, but like most photographs from the days of film, if not in an album tucked away, I’m pretty sure it’s floating with other black and white, and sepia, gems from my parent’s and grandparent’s days, in a very special suitcase at my Mother’s place, to be dragged out every now and again on a rainy day and pored over.

From all your photography years do you have a favourite genre?

I guess abstract photography has always attracted me for the questions it raises. Conceptual for the same reasons. I like photography that encourages the viewer to want to raise dialogue with the artist. Documentary for the storytelling and awareness of important issues that can be opened up.

Can you name 2-3 photographers who have inspired you other than your Grandfather?

Some of the early photographers, Paul Strand and Alvin Langon Coburn to name a couple.

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A fascinating abstract by Alvin Langon Coburn especially back in those times.circa 1916

More contemporary photographers are Edward Burtynsky, Lewis Baltz , Donovan Wylie and Megan Jenkinsen I know that’s more than 2-3, but I’m inspired by many, many photographers and artists really. It’s very hard to condense that inspiration down to even these ones.

Talking about your creativity Jenny, after your Rotorua exhibition I hear you hit a flat patch. Can you elaborate on this please?

Ha ha, I hit flat patches all the time, and I think everyone does. It can be a challenge though, if you believe that you must always be producing, and making “the best”. Sometimes allowing that flat patch its space allows the subconscious to process much of that we’re unaware of. Sometimes it’s ok to put down the tools. In hindsight, I think I didn’t realise that the energy that I put into putting the exhibition together, and the growth that came from the pressure cooker way it was done, was unsustainable. I made all the work for the exhibition in a period of three weeks. Luckily my husband was away much of that time; I don’t think he’d have enjoyed the activity at 2am on a regular basis. I would have loved to keep going, I just felt as if I was hitting my straps. Making art isn’t a full-time occupation for me yet, and I needed to refocus my energy onto other things. I guess that’s one of the things that does keep driving me to keep trying to make new work – I would love to make this a full-time occupation!

Isn’t it normal to have ‘writers block’ or a creative block from time to time?

Yes, it definitely is, and I believe that our development goes in steps rather than any sort of curve or linear increase. We push ourselves along until we hit a brick wall that seems to stall us, but it’s the pushing against this, and then the frustration of not being able to move on that finally gives us the impetus or “breakthrough” that gives us the next boost in development. I used to observe it with our children’s development, too. Sometimes it’s hard to get going again, and, with me particularly, I tend to go into “overthink” mode, so spend too much time trying to decide where to next. It’s known as paralysis by analysis, and my constant battle!

I hear a friend of yours gave you a daily challenge to help get the creative aspect of your life back on track. Has it worked??And what was that Challenge?

I did make the mistake of moaning to a friend that I couldn’t get motivated to pick up the camera again, or do anything that wasn’t related to just “existing”. The challenge felt deceptively simple, and I didn’t take it too seriously to begin with, but it definitely worked to fan the creative flame again. I got inspired, and I found that thinking about it only made it more difficult. The best results came from just acting in the moment.

I was challenged to photograph a consecutive number every day for thirty days. It made me aware of my surroundings, and to notice patterns and shapes again. At first I was looking at the most literal level, but got bored pretty quickly, and also found it difficult with limited time during the day, so I started creating the numbers, or trying to find different ways to represent the number. That’s when it became fun!

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What will you do with your “number” images? Seems to me a coffee table book might be in the making, have you considered an art number book?

Yes, I think that’s one that might need a bit more time, but I’d enjoy it. I felt a bit lost when I’d finished 30 and really would like to keep going. The pressure to do it daily though is a bit much at the moment, but I haven’t thrown that idea away; as the days grow longer I may be able to make that happen.

The cats eyes with numbers is one of my favourites. I am sure you will agree they are very creative in their approach.

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When a photographer runs out of ideas what suggestions can you offer them to become inspired again?

Firstly, be very careful who you tell! Seriously though, I think we only run out of ideas when we are in thinking mode. Often taking the mind out of the equation allows us to move into uncharted territory and we find something completely unexpected. Just committing to picking up the camera and making a picture everyday can help, especially if there is a longer time period involved. The first couple of days are easy, the next get a bit harder, and then frustrating. Suddenly something gives, and that’s about when you start to find new ways of working that break your previous creative restraints. Having someone else set the task really ensures that you don’t either stay in your comfort zone, or allow the mind to have control.

Setting a major project, like an exhibition, or book, or lessons for other people, WITH DEADLINES, can be an amazing way to boost creativity, because suddenly you’re under pressure to achieve. Diamonds are created under pressure 🙂 The other, and I guess most important, action is to keep trying to be inspired by other people’s work. Look at books, websites and ezines, there are some very interesting ones out there. Learn some art history. Even if it’s work you don’t like, it will help broaden your horizons and hone your own creative vision.

I think this is an ideal exercise for photographers suffering from a brain-dead period; do you mind other photographers emulating this project?

Absolutely not! I’m pretty sure a few people have been set this particular challenge, if not very similar ones, and I encourage everyone to use any means at their disposal to spread their creative wings. It’s all too easy to stay with what is safe, with what gets “likes”, and not break out into new territory. I’m not at all afraid of people not liking my work now, as long as it allows me to continue to learn and develop. If it pleases me, then I’m happy.

 

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And lastly Jenny Couldrey…where is your creativity taking you currently?

Everywhere and anywhere. I keep visual diaries and they’re full of ideas of work I’d like to make. The moment something comes to me I make notes and draw pictures. Sometimes something comes of it, and sometimes not. I am keen to make more work with the glass. It’s a medium that I love to work with and it has much that is relevant to fixing an image. It’s sitting on the back burner presently as my real job is working as a builder, and we are currently immersed in a rebuild construction in Kaiapoi. When that requires less of my time I’ll be able to put more energy into my photographic work.

Over the last few years I’ve started working with anthotypes, making sun developed pictures on paper prepared with plant-based emulsion. Exposures can be hours, or days, or weeks. It’s a very organic process, and one I’m still waiting to get a decent exposure from. If I’m learning from my mistakes, then I must be learning heaps!! I’ll be back onto that this summer when there’s a bit more sunshine. At the moment I’m working on another challenge set to get me out of my comfort zone. I have a huge resistance to having my picture taken, it makes me very uncomfortable. So, a task has been set, slightly less fearsome than self portraits (although I can see that coming next!); to make 21 portraits of my husband. Thank goodness, he’s the most wonderful sport, and is allowing me to do what I need to make this happen.

Thanks Lynn, for encouraging me to contribute to your wonderful blog, and get on my soapbox. Creativity and being open-minded in any medium is very important to me, and, if in some small way I have encouraged anyone else to try something new, to break away from what they normally do, I’ll be very happy.

Email Jenny at jennycouldrey@xtra.co.nz  if you are interested in her work. It is definitely unique and quite exquisite.

 

Please comment on this blog below and share it with your arty friends 🙂

 

 

 

Good weather for reading :)

Don’t you love it when you get thoroughly engrossed in a book? This is one that excited me!! I don’t normally read thrillers however I recommend this book  to you. I don’t even like the cover much! US$5.50 on Kindle from Amazon. $25.00 rrp in New Zealand.

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I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Terry Hayes born in 1951, was born in the UK and now lives in Switzerland. This book “I am Pilgrim” is a New York best seller list favourite. This must be the ultimate accolade for many writers…or maybe a Booker prize is preferable? I am not an avid reader by any means however from page one this book held a gruesome compelling desire to flip the pages !  From the MGM website “Pilgrim” centers on the adopted son of a wealthy American family who once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence.  He’s called out of retirement for an investigation and becomes caught in a race against time to save America from oblivion.”

Although this is the first novel by Terry Hayes, he has been writing screen plays etc for many years.He met director George Miller when he did the novelisation of the script to Mad Max.  (1979). He and Miller got on well and the director subsequently hired Hayes to help on the script for Mad Max 2 (1981). Hayes went on to become an in-house writer for Kennedy Miller.

His debut novel, “I am Pilgrim” was published in July 2013. That same month, MGM  acquired the film rights to the novel with Hayes attached to adapt it into a screenplay. I certainly will want to see the movie…who will they cast as the lead?  I think it could be the role Tom Cruise would love to own however I wouldn’t cast him. Maybe look at an unknown who is hungry for success?  Or our Australian actors would fit the role; Hugh Jackman maybe?

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Or Chris Hemsworth with those piercing blue eyes!!. Who do you think should play Pilgrim??

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Destinations Magazine is another great winter read – the current issue featured below makes one want to pack ones bags and depart the winter cold immediately.The magazine is beautifully laid out on quality paper, a classy magazine; you will not want to throw it out. Magazines should be recycled to the dentist, doctor or office waiting rooms anyway.  The photography is superb as are the articles on Tasmania, Majorca, Tokyo, Sausalito and more. The Tasmanian article has insights into epicurean delights as well as art treasures. Afterall Hobart is the home to the beautiful Mona Gallery. My only gripe with the magazine is I need to put on reading glasses as the print is quite small.

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And my other favourite magazine without any advertising at all is WOMANKIND the quarterly Australian mag. Quote “Womankind magazine – a 132-page, beautifully designed, ad-free magazine for women – launched at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in July 2014, where it was the best-selling item in the festival’s history”.

Yes it is available in New Zealand.WK5-Cover-montage-e1437972754616-609x400

This issue has a fascinating look at the life of Frida Kahlo and some stunning images by photographer Laurent Chehere.Laurent was born in France in 1972 and photographs and or creates ‘Flying Houses’ Whimsical creations to warm your heart.

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My last review is my newest purchase. “abandoned planet’ from Amazon.com

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( I couldn’t find it in NZ) Anyway this hard cover book is extraordinary. Andre Govia is a friend of mine on Flickr where he posts amazing imagery of  abandoned buildings in Europe. What a terrible waste of stunning architecture left to the ravages of nature and time.

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Andre’s work is not always legitimately obtained as they sneak in after dark  however the work is haunting, compelling, frightening and so much more. ( I doubt that is his real name either)  On one page there were marble memorial slabs, so I googled the names to discover these were long forgotten headstones of prominent aristocratic men who lived in Belgium in the late 1700’s. I had always thought of marble headstones as a permanent memorial, but maybe they are not! Theatres, hospitals, schools long abandoned but not empty, wheel chairs and hospital beds slowly rusting.  It challenges ones ideas of waste that is for sure! Check out more work here.

So on that sombre note I bid you good night as I wrestle with the final pages of I am Pilgrim. Comments most welcome.

 

 

 

Retail stores do get it right !

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 I’m doing a Blogging 201 course  so I’m writing a weekly blog on anything in my head – 

I recently wrote in one of my blogs about retail stores… Negatively. Since then I’ve had a great local shopping experience, so I’m sharing. If only more shops took a leaf from the Blue Illusion concept!    Continue reading