Photographs, words and sounds

International Workers’ Day

Happy International Workers’ Day comrades.

The photo above was made in Bologna, Italy a few weeks back. I’ll leave you with Billy Bragg.

Do we really care about art?

For the past week, I’ve been in Bologna, Italy, for a series of meetings and workshops. It was only on Saturday that I had a free afternoon and used the opportunity to see something of that gorgeous city. The timing was pretty good. There was an exhibit on the work of Hugo Pratt and his famous graphic novel character Corto Maltese; a show featuring over 200 less well known works of Salvador Dalí; and an exhibit of Mexican 20th century art featuring works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera among others.

The photo above is the scene in front of the Palazzo Albergati. It’s a queue of people waiting to get into the gallery to see the Mexican art exhibit. It would take hours to get in, hours I didn’t have, so I decided to skip it and see as much as I could. I did manage to get into Palazzo Belloni after only about half an hour wait in line with elderly couples, students, families, and even a bunch of sketchy looking skeets all eager to see the Dalí exhibit.

Next time when the government cuts arts funding or removes culture from the name of the department that is supposed to help us create more of it -and it surely will- as we raise hell, we should also ask ourselves why is nobody lining up in front of our galleries. In what ways have we failed and allowed art to become irrelevant to so many outside of the art circle? We need more than just money, we desperately need a public that cares. How we get there is mostly up to us, but it may require a braver, less self-referential and more engaging art.

On a lighter note, you should also know that the Italians line up for ice cream confirming my lifelong belief that good ice cream is indistinguishable from good art.

Exhibit in Bonavista


Remember I said I had more announcements? If you are in Newfoundland and Labrador and are planning a trip to Boavista, stop at the Ryan Premises National Historic Site. Some of the prints from the Small Islands series are on display there together with amazing work by Michael Pittman, Robert McNair, Cynthia Kremerer and several others. The show is a part of the 2016 Bonavista ArtWalk. The show is up until September 5.

Beautiful Bonavista and an iPhone 5s photo.

Rural Routes


A bit of an announcement post. For the past few months I have been quietly working on a project that is now ready to be made public. As many of you know, my day job is very much focused on rural Newfoundland and Labrador and through that job I get to work with a lot (you should probably read that most) of rural researchers in this country and some from further abroad. After a while, it became obvious that most of the research I was aware of never makes it into the public domain. So, as part of my job, I decided to start a podcast. A colleague with a particular flair for copy writing named it Rural Routes. Over the coming weeks you will be able to hear interviews with rural researchers, writers, entrepreneurs, artists, fishers and farmers. We are hoping to get some funding in place that would allow us to do a little bit more down the road. For now, go to and hear what we have on air.

The photo was made sometime last year with my phone in Port Rexton, NL.

Saying random things is not a good idea


Poor Little Miss F had a rough night with a stomach bug. The worst and the messiest of it was over by 3:30 am and she fell asleep on the couch in the living room. By the time noon came about she was almost herself. M asked her if she wanted to go to school after lunch. Thinking about it for a moment, Little Miss F calmly explained that if she goes, she feels like she’ll be tired and if she is asked a question she won’t remember what it was and she’ll just say something random so it’s not a good idea. She stayed home for the day.

Photo links from Cuba to neighbourhood shops

Photo links post today:

Three things you should take a look at on [LENS] (incidentally, see how good and smart a photo section in a newspaper on-line can be when you dedicate resources to it!):

Photography in Cuba: It’s Not Easy. An interesting take on the International Centre of Photography retrospective of Cuban photography by both Cuban and non-Cuban photographers.

Visualizing the Common Core Curriculum. How do you photograph a government policy? Here is one photographer’s take on a new education policy in the USA.

In China, the Photobook as Art and History. I would love to get my hands on this one.

After [LENS], head over to The New Yorker’s Photo Booth and take a look Zoe Leonard’s photos of old neighbourhood shops. As somebody who photographs corner stores, I suspect I find this more interesting than most.

In the photograph is a scene from Vis Island, Croatia.

Silently cool


We passed this skateboarder on Vis island in Croatia whose board had lit wheels and we all commented on how cool that was. In fact, Ms. M. said she wished she had a cool husband like that. Little Miss F., without missing a beat, looked at her and said with absolute conviction: “Dad is cool in a silent way.”

Take that world.

Photo: Vis island, Croatia.

Reason 23451 to live in Newfoundland


This is Change Islands and that place alone accounts for a few hundreds of reasons why living in Newfoundland is fabulous, but the reason 23451 to live in Newfoundland is a very old lady who lives just around the corner, knocks on your door and delivers handmade knitted mice filled with catnip because she saw your cats in the window.

Contemplating ocean


This is Miss F. at the Signal Hill National Historic Site in St. John’s.

I look at this photograph as I read, in complete disbelief, this story on the privately proposed monument to… well… I don’t know what in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. How is this even remotely possible is beyond me. I cannot imagine anything more un-Canadian than this monstrosity.

Miss F. is 12


Miss F. is 12 today. Time flies. The sisters are here on Change Islands last summer.


Family photo albums are oral histories…


A family photo in honour of Day 2 of single parenthood. We miss our fabulously smart researcher currently exploring rural Newfoundland.

Some time ago, during a very short conversation with Dr. Robert Finley, he made a remark I have been thinking about ever since. He said that every family photo album is, in fact, an oral history. I like that – a lot.

MUN Botanical Garden


We really wanted to go for a walk this weekend and we asked Little Miss F. to pick a destination. She picked, to our surprise and delight, MUN Botanical Garden. The colours were spectacular. I suspect we missed the full glory of the autumn in the garden, but it was still pretty special.


Feeding the ducks was, of course, the highlight of the walk, although the pumpkin patch was close with its appropriately freaky Halloween display.


If you haven’t been there in a while it’s really worth a visit. Seriously folks. I think we may have run into maybe six other people. This is one of those St. John’s hidden gems. We try to go at least once in every season and every time we have such great time walking the trails that we always promise ourselves to do it again soon and then it’s spring, or winter or whatever and we are back to once-a-season schedule.



There is still time left to enjoy the autumn colours in the garden even if all the time you have is a half hour lunchtime walk.


Let’s go fly a kite…


And this glorious summer is over. The nights and mornings are cold. We turned on the heater in our living room yesterday for a couple of hours in the morning. The photographs here are from a few days ago. We were flying kites on Signal Hill with some friends and eating apple strudel. It was a lovely way to spend the last of this summer.


Crazy EKTAR colours


A few family photos with crazy EKTAR colours.


A dream day trip

My smarter half was doing a bunch of interviews for a project she is working on on Avalon Isthmus and the rest of us decided to tag along as somewhat cute, but mostly useless appendages. She managed to wrap things up in her usual efficient fashion so on the way home we decided to make a detour to Cape St. Mary’s and provide the girls with much needed experiential learning opportunities the school will almost certainly not provide.

Of course making detours with children usually means more detours so when Little Miss F. threatened to throw a massive tantrum over one thing or another was I ever happy to see a sign announcing the Castle Hill National Historic Site. It was a great visit largely thanks to Christopher, a Parks Canada interpreter who was absolutely amazing. We hiked around the Fort Royal and took some funny pictures and than decided to get going. Well, at this point we had two hungry girls and that meant that the good mood would not last long. Luckily for us, we found Philip’s Cafe and Bakery in Placentia. What a treat! To make things even better, Philip was just pulling hot, gluten–free muffins and bread loaves out of the oven as we came in so even the smarter half could enjoy a full blown meal. Philip was funny, interesting and helpful and the food was simply awesome.

Of course, it had to be one of the foggiest days ever at Cape St. Mary’s, but at this point we were well fed, had ton of interesting things to talk about and were enjoying beautiful scenery between Placentia and the Cape. Fog or no fog, we decided to go and I am so glad we did. It was magical. Miss. F. declared, looking at thousands of birds appearing and disappearing in and out of the fog, that she felt like she was flying herself. Little Miss F. announced that a lot of birds make a lot of poop and that doesn’t smell nice, so she spent most of the time around the Bird Rock firmly pinching her nose.

Incidentally, the best piece of advice we got today came from a funny provincial parks officer who told the girls not to look up with their mouths open.

So here we are back home. The girls are asleep and I can’t believe what an amazing day we had.

There were a couple of photography lessons to be learned as well:

  1. Fog augments every piece of dust on your sensor – mine, apparently, has several gigantic dust spots.
  2. Digital gear weighs a ton and, therefore, stays in the car most of the time because I don’t feel like lugging this stuff around – will try not to make a mistake of bringing it along in the future. My film cameras fit in my coat pocket. Nikon, get your head out of you ass and make a Nikon FED or whatever. Yeah, I know there is Leica M9 that would suit my needs perfectly, but I would also like to keep both of my kidneys so that’s not an option.

Croatian word of the day: ptica bird  [pt itza]


Support Island Landscapes exhibit



Rick Hansen relay

Today, I spent a day doing something I used to spend a lot of time doing – working as a photojournalist. I photographed the first day of the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary relay across Canada for the National Post and Postmedia News. It turned out to be a strangely introspective assignment and, once I sort out through some of those thoughts, I’ll write a blog post about it. For now here is the cutline to go with the photo:

CAPE SPEAR, NL: AUGUST 24, 2011 — Rick Hansen talks with Jacob Manning, 13, the first bearer of the medal that will travel across Canada around the necks of 7,000 Canadians raising awareness about spinal cord injury. The 25th anniversary relay started today at Cape Spear, NL. (Bojan Fürst for Postmedia News)

Croatian word of the day: štafeta relay [shta feta]


Support Island Landscapes exhibit



Public servants

Work related post today, mostly because I like the photograph.

Andrew Treusch (middle), associate deputy minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada is discussing the changing role of public servant in Canada while Robert Thompson (right), the Secretary to Cabinet and the Clerk of the Executive Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ron Penney (left) the recently retired city manager for the City of St. John’s and an adjunct professor of political science at Memorial University pay close attention.

I don’t often post work related photographs because they mostly consist of talking heads, but today’s setup landed itself nicely to a different kind of a photo.

Croatian word of the day: javni službenik public servant [yavni  slu zh be nik]




Tearsheets time…

Got my copy of Canadian Art today. If you want to see more photos from that day you can do so here.

Croatian word of the day: umjetnik artist [oom yet nik]


Organic farm

Tearsheets time.

Sometime in August I had a chance to photograph Mike and Melba Rabinowitz’s organic farm just outside of St. John’s. Growing anything in Newfoundland is a bit of a challenge because the nature is working against you most of the time. Poor soil conditions and short growing season are the rule and it takes a lot of work and stubbornness to build a successful farm. Melba and Mike certainly have both of those qualities.

They grow a wide variety of vegetables and herbs and supply some of St. John’s restaurants, farmers’ market and grocery stores with local and organic produce.

You can read the whole story in the latest issue of Saltscape magazine.

Croatian word of the day: povrće vegetables [po vr che]


Corner store

Off to Clarenville today… Leonard’s on Cabot Street.

Croatian word of the day: kiša rain [kisha]


Canadian Art and William Gill

New issue of Canadian Art magazine is out. It promises to be a great photography issue featuring Ed Burtynsky’s and Donald Weber’s work. Lisa Moore wrote an essay on the work of Will Gill, local visual artist, and I had the pleasure of photographing Will for the story.

I am not sure which photo they ran or what they did with it. If the tearsheets are worth posting, I will post them once I get my hands on a copy of the magazine. In the meantime, this is a set of shots from that day. Most of them are digital, except the square one which I shot on film just because I can.

You can see some of Will’s work on his website.

Croatian word of the day: umjetnik artist [um ye tnik]


Corner store…

Now that was a productive day…

Corner store nearby.

Croatian word of the day: dan day


A corner store saved…

This corner store on Prescott and Bond has seen better days. Today, it’s boarded up and for sale so if anybody knows any stories about it, feel free to share in the comments.

I do want to share with you an NPR story about an English village that refused to let go of their corner store. Enjoy.

Croatian word of the day: selo village


A corner store and links…

A bunch of links today and a corner store.

A strange collection of murderous cooks, waiters and bartenders.

Two websites that allow you to create “to do” lists. Teux Deux is actually quite useful for my purposes (h/t swissmiss) and NowDoThis is not so useful, but certainly more fun (h/t Minimalissimo).

Dalton Ghetti creates the most amazing sculptures from pencil stubs you’ll ever see.

And one of my favourite website, Quipsologies, went through a massive redesign.

Croatian word of the day: kuhar cook