In preparation for the priming party that happened on Sunday (see previous post), I went to load a roll of 120 film in my beloved Diana + camera. When I opened the back, I was surprised to see that there was already a roll of film inside the camera body. Unable to remember the last time I had used my Diana + camera, I rewound the mystery film and dropped it off with Sunday’s roll.
I picked up my prints at West Camera today; and though most of the roll had been exposed when I opened the back, I’m thrilled to have three beautiful black and white shots of the snow fall that shut down London (England) in 2009. I was living in Lambeth North at the time, in a Georgian townhouse with a brilliant, wonderful American photographer named Nancy Honey. Being North American, neither Nancy nor I thought much of the minimal snow fall; but then our heat went out. No one was able to come and service the system because the snow had made moving around the city impossible. I figured that I’d be warm in the bowels of Tate Britain, where I was working with the Education Department; but just as I stepped out of my door to walk across Lambeth Bridge, my supervisor called to forbid me from walking to work.
With no heat to keep me inside and no work to keep me occupied, I resolved to walk around my neighbourhood taking pictures. The novelty of the white stuff produced a buoyant buzz in the streets: kids were busy building muddy snowmen and throwing brown snowballs, and neighbours were joking with each other. All was quiet except for people’s chatter. It was the best snow day I’ve ever had. Nancy and I spent the rest of the week without heat. We spent our evenings sitting next to the open oven in fur coats; and I didn’t shower for days on account of not wanting to undress in a bathroom where my breath was visible. I miss that house like mad.
On Sunday, we were fortunate enough to have a group of committed, passionate friends help us prime the first ten good bikes, which were delivered to the OCAD U Student Gallery by the City earlier in the week. The two-wheelers were in a sad state when they were dropped at our doorstep — deflated tires, rusty baskets and tattered seats. After a coat of white primer, the mangled misfits started to look sculptural and wonderfully linear. Our painting party in Butterfield Park on McCaul Street was a curious sight and prompted more than a few inquiries. At the end of the day, everyone and everything was a sticky, white, beautiful mess.
We’ll be painting these bikes in our signature bright hues with the Regent Park community residents on Sunday, July 3. A very special thank you to Carly Ainlay, Dave Bedrich, Claire Bartleman, Rachel Buck, Jaime Posen and Erin Schachter for helping us on Sunday.
Some months ago, local designer, filmmaker and producer extraordinaire Dave Bedrich purchased a Paillard Bolex 155 Macrozoom camera, which shoots dreamy Super 8mm film. The process of shooting, developing and editing Super 8mm film is costly and laborious — but the results are retro-fabulous and so worth the hassle. Considering Bedrich only started experimenting with his relic gadget earlier this year, I consider it nothing short of impressive that he’s already the (presumably) proud parent of an amazing, vintage-feel music video!
The impetus for this project was a contest announced by Stones Throw back in April. Fans and followers were asked to submit homemade music videos set to songs from the label’s catalog. The winner will receive $1000 and the chance to direct an official music video. Set to J Rocc’s Stay Fresh, Bedrich’s black and white video stars two bobbleheads of Mayer Hawthorne and Audrey Hepburn, respectively. The nod to Hawthorne, who also features on Stone Throw’s roster, is clever as the musician is credited for shooting and editing the song’s official video.
Hawthorne and Hepburn make a charming if unlikely couple, and their fast-paced adventure in and around Toronto speaks to the song’s distinctively urban, playful sound. The video opens with a tight montage of stunning city shots: the top of BCE Place; streetcars on the waterfront; and familiar murals and street signs. Windowpanes, reflections and glare give the footage sparkle, and everything is soft edged — like a memory, or something you see in your mind’s eye. You can see Bedrich’s video and post supportive, adoring comments here. The winner will be announced after the contest’s closing on July 1. For the record, the good votes for Dave Bedrich!
I know that I should probably speak to the striking design and art objects featured in the pop-up exhibition $H!T HAPPENS IN BERLIN at Relative Space, a sleek flooring showroom on Dupont Street; but I was too busy looking at the striking servers doling out wine and food when we were at the launch party. Not only where they gorgeous, their outfits were killer — sheer black, feathers, neon lips etc. The venue was packed, the wine and prosciutto were divine, the dj (Johnny Hockin of MTV and More Proof) spun great sets, and the room was buzzing with chatter and clinking glasses. Hilariously, most of the guests were snapping photographs of other guests for their blogs. Check out some of the beautiful people here. Clearly, Berlin isn’t the only city where shit happens.
Being the keen-beans that we are, Caroline and I were the first in line for a tintype studio hosted by Gallery 44 in the lobby of 401 Richmond on Saturday, May 28. A team of artists was still working to set up the various tents, dishes, lights and chemicals when we arrived. The focal point of the studio was of course the antique camera, a sculptural bellowed box with wood detailing.
The first picture posted here was the first picture of the day. I sat atop a tall stool while my photo plate was being prepared inside a dark tent. Tintypes are atypical photographs as there are no negatives involved. The photograph is exposed as a direct positive onto a plate covered in photo sensitive emulsion. The prepared plate slides into the back of the camera. Immediately after a quick flash of blinding bulbs, the plate is removed and placed into a developing bath. It takes a few seconds for the image to emerge. It was nothing short of magical to see this haunted version of myself appear on the small plate.
Once developed and cured, the plate needs to be dried. Photographer and friend Amanda Rataj held my photo plate over a flame to kick-start the drying process. As the plate heated up, it released a soft lavender scent. Amanda explained that the team was adhering to the original emulsion recipe from the 19th century, which inexplicably calls for lavender oil. The mixture of process, scent and tangibility was winning.
My photograph is a true treasure. There a strangely still and permanent quality about these photographs that makes them serious and memorial, unlike digital images we collect today. Funnily, the historical aesthetic brings attention to the present. The plates feel sacred, like small pieces of me.
If you’re kicking yourself for missing the opportunity to have your very own tintype portrait taken, then be sure to head to the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair in July, where the photographers will be seeing up their next pop-up studio.
Last weekend, I did something I haven’t done since I was a kid: I invited a few of my closest friends to my house to dress-up. It was a particularly special event because two of the girls that came over, Chloë and Julia, are also my oldest friends. The three of us started dressing up together twenty years ago, and still enjoy getting ready to go out with one another today.
As kids, the dress up closet at my house was a little different than most. My mom, Janice Lindsay, was a costume designer and later a wardrobe stylist. She has been making her own clothes since age sixteen, and so she has a serious appreciation for interesting cuts, fabrics and detail. During her theatre years, she rescued, accumulated and inherited a fabulous collection of vintage clothing and antique costumes. Consequentially, our basement (commonly referred too as “the fashion pit”) was full of period dresses, opera coats, mink shawls, long skirts, feathered hats, and gloves of all kinds. For every Halloween and costume party, mom would take me down to the pit and pull something wonderful for me to wear from her bag of tricks. I grew up with the ultimate dress up box.
When Chloë and Julia came over, we would go downstairs and rummage through mom’s costumes, eventually emerging outfitted in whacky combinations of glamorous garments and accessories all layered and mixed together. If my little brother Blake was “lucky”, the three of included him; and we didn’t find anything odd about his affinity for feathered boas and ladies hats. Often, we’d all walk to the corner store at the end of the street to buy some candy or an ice cream in our created costumes. Sometimes we would even speak to the man behind the counter in accents, exploring the characters we had made for ourselves.
Today, Chloë, Blake, Julia and I dress differently; yet all of us feel comfy in our individual styles. It seems safe to say that our dress-up days were influential. For me, style is more about self-expression than what’s on the racks. Fashion gurus Bill Cunningham and Scott Shuman seem to agree, photographing those who mix different styles to make something all their own – which is exactly what we were doing as kids. Dressing up does not require matching clothes, just some coordination.
Now that I can finally fit into my mom’s vintage collection, she is ready to clear the closets. To say goodbye, Chloë, Blake, Julia and I decided to dress up in them one last time. “Each of these pieces has so many stories,” my mom said. “I have learnt from them, enjoyed them, shared them, and now it is time for them to acquire another tale.” Although it will be nice to have more closet space, I will miss my mom’s dress up box immensely. I did keep a few items that I will continue to wear; and maybe I’ll let my own kids dress-up in them one day.
VINTAGE PINK POP-UP SHOP: Everything from the Vintage Pink blog (and more) will be sold at the OCAD U Student gallery this Friday (June 17th, 11 AM to 6 PM) and Saturday (June 18th, 11 AM to 5 PM)Cash or cheque only.
I finally managed to stop in at the Tampered Press on Dundas St W! This is definitely one of the best named coffee places in the city, in my opinion (as I’ve always wanted to run some kind of cafe, publishing house hybrid); and its coffee doesn’t disappoint. The creamy shot of espresso and steamed milk was absolute bliss in the spring sunshine. The chocolate chip biscotti certainly helped matters: chewy, sweet, delicious. All of their baked goods are made from scratch in house (or by friends), and you can taste it — really! Board games, weekly nutrition workshops, and a bursting community board are all evidence that the Tampered Press cares about cafe culture.
Bookhou (798 Dundas St West) is a studio/store that focuses on small production pieces made from natural and handmade materials. If you enjoy buying beautiful things and supporting local talent, shop here. It’s a great spot for connecting with local designers and artists.
These are a few of my favourite drawings from Ryan Dodgson’s tiny book, Buildings and Bodies. I found it last weekend among the zines at Art Metropole. Apparently, they’ve been selling like hot cakes! On the first page of the book Dodgson writes: “All of the buildings in this book were drawn from life, and can be found in and around the city of Toronto. Their bodies belong to my friends.” One of Dodgson’s buildings happens to be on Spadina, just a block away from my house. It’s a very strange house with a real personality. Lately, all I do is imagine bodies on buildings.
For all you neon bike supporters out there, I owe you an update. The last two days have been a little nutty over at 285 Dundas St. West. After the neon bike was featured on BlogTO, the Torontoist and Boing Boing on Wednesday, it became an instant local celebrity. The very same day, the bike also made it onto the six o’clock news on CBC and Youtube (The Mark News). It was featured in The Star and in Metro News the morning after. The overwhelmingly positive feedback has meant so much. The Good has received hundreds of emails from around the world in support of our little neon bike. One supporter called me at the OCAD U Student Gallery from Belgium yesterday to inquire after the bike’s fate. He told me he had heard about it from his friends in the UK before hearing about it from any Canadian friends. Apparently the neon bike was all over his twitter feed! Additonal emails have come from Serbia, Panama, Portugal, the UK, Ireland, Belgium and other far away places. Yesterday I received a call from Adam Vaughan’s office assuring me that the bicycle will not be removed on Monday. I am meeting with Vaughan and another supportive city counsellor next week with the aim of coming up with a more permanent solution for the bike. Thanks to everyone for their help and support! I had no idea the little neon bike would become so big. Stay tuned!