Newsletter #205: August, 2023
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved
The sporadic nature of my Newsletter publication this year, has been a result of my need to be present for my sister in what has been her final months. This has taken me to Ireland several times.
I am back in the Cariboo now, and I look forward to sharing my photographic adventures, past and present, and thoughts and ideas about photography as an art form.
If anything, this process has reinforced and strengthened the inspiration that both Jane, and her late husband, Tony, have been for me.
1. The O’Malley Garden and art studio
2. The Mid-Fraser River grasslands
The O’Malley Garden and art studio
My sister Jane was an art student at the St. Ives School of Painting in Cornwall, England, when in 1973 she met and married the Irish painter, Tony O’Malley. They lived there, pursuing their art, until they decided to return to Ireland in 1990.
Jane and Tony working in their studio in St. Ives in the 1970’s
Together, they bought a tiny ‘labourer’s cottage’ in Physicianstown, near Callan, County Kilkenny, where Tony was born. There, they developed their peaceful cottage and studio, and designed a lovely garden set beside a small stream in the grand Irish countryside. It was there that their art flourished. By 2003, when Tony died, they had achieved huge recognition as creative artists in Ireland. Tony is the recipient of Irelands highest awards; over ten books have been published on their life and work. Their art will be exhibited in perpetuity in the O’Malley Wing of the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny.
Jane passed away in June of this year, and while at her home last month, I stepped out periodically to photograph, both in the garden and their studio.
Jane was unable to maintain her garden this year, however, a sense of beauty remains
Standing behind the row of white hydrangeas, we see the many additions to their original ‘labourer’s cottage’
Made from the small patch of coloured flowers in the above image, I created an abstract; inspired by Tony’s work over the years
Walking through another part of Jane’s Garden, I make my way to the art studio
The entrance to Jane and Tony’s studio
This is Tony’s work space which has remained untouched since his death in 2003
A closer look at Tony’s work table
Tony’s work space. No one has inspired me more to trust in my own aesthetic and to express myself freely
With that belief in myself and my work, I have developed a freedom of photographic expression
Tony’s paint brushes. An inspiration
At the other end of the studio, is Jane’s work space
A closer look at Jane’s work tables
The varied tools of Jane’s craft
Jane’s tubes of paint
Much like herself, Jane’s paint table is bright and cheerful
Jane’s painter’s coverall
Jane’s and Tony’s art has inspired me for years and will continue to do so
Dennis in grass heaven
The Mid-Fraser River grasslands
A few days ago, in casual conversation, my workshop teaching partner, Dennis Ducklow, told me he was heading out on his motorcycle for a few days; he wanted a break and a change of scenery. When I asked him where he was going, he said, “I haven’t decided yet”. When I suggested he come to the Cariboo region where there was a cozy bed and a photo trip to the grasslands in the offering, he simply said, “I’ll be there…this evening!
Early the next morning, after Rita had made us a delicious lunch, we jumped in my truck and headed off to the grasslands; to the Big Bar/High Bar area in the Mid-Fraser River Canyon.
The hot sunny 30-degree day provided little contrast for photography, but it didn’t matter. We were pumped!
Winding our way through the scent of sage
This style of fencing has long disappeared. To make a photograph such as this, is now a rarity
Amidst the sage and grass, this Douglas fir has been a favourite tree of mine for many years.
During autumn, low water levels reveal bars of gravel and silt
Above High Bar, grasslands slowly disappear
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