Sunday, 1 December 2019

Blog Post - 1 December 2019: Toronto Textures, Part 1

A change of pace from last week’s photos.

Regular readers of this blog already know that I love photographing Toronto. I find it an exuberant source of photographic inspiration and delight. Last week, I took advantage of a clear day on the calendar – and delightfully warm, sunny weather – to take the train to Toronto for a day of walking and photography. Instead of photographing people, which is often my preoccupation in Toronto, I explored the city’s textures and shapes. 

From Union Station, I walked up Spadina Avenue through Chinatown to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, just north of College Street. Then I wandered through the UofT campus, visited the Gardiner Ceramic Museum, and checked out the competitive high-end shopping in Yorkville. The walking tour then looped down Bay Street to the Eaton Centre, then back to Union Station in the early evening to catch my train home – six hours and 24,129 steps later. What a feast for the eyes! I’m grateful for sturdy walking shoes and dependable feet. My knees, however, took a few days to recover. 

This week and next, I’ll feature photos from these Toronto wanderings.

A few words about my fascination with abstracts and textures: this form of photography usually doesn’t require a knowledge of the photograph’s context to be appreciated. The images could come from virtually any urban North American environment. They are, nonetheless, downtown Toronto moments recorded on my leisurely stroll. The city clashed and clanged around me while I remained calm, simply recording what I saw. Such a privilege. Thank you, Toronto – once again, you have rewarded me with your quirky beauty and peculiarity. 

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Backpack, Queen's Park Crescent

Community Bulletin Board, Spadina Avenue

Chinatown Beans

EveryOne (2018), by Cannupa Hanska Luger
After the photograph Sister (2016) by Kali Spitzer
In Memory of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women 
in North America
Gardiner Museum, Toronto

Queen's Park Bench

Outside the Gardiner Museum

Louis Vuitton Window Display, Yorkville

Louis Vuitton Window Display, Yorkville

Louis Vuitton Window Display, Yorkville

Sheldon & Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre,
Ryerson University

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto:
NEW CIRCADIA (adventures in mental spelunking).
Curated by Professor Richard Sommer and New York-based designers Pillow Culture.

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto

John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto

Window Display, Yorkville

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Blog Post - 24 November 2019

Somewhere on this planet...there is a public building that used to be a vibrant part of its community. In its 150+ year history, it welcomed thousands of people through its doors. And, in an oddly tenacious way, it still does, but in radically altered circumstances. You see, this once-elegant building now stands abandoned. Only its stone walls stubbornly remain. Efforts to repurpose it failed. Fire ravaged its interior. It now is a refuge for those seeking shelter and human connection. A place free of judgement and moralizing. A place to shoot up away from prying eyes. A place to sleep under an improvised roof. A place to make a fire and stay warm. A place to cook a meagre meal. A place to love, make love, and be loved. A place to decorate and rage against injustice. 

Even a place to read.

A parallel humanity. 

It sits on the hard-scrabble edges of a wealthy city. It puts lie to all society’s pious claims of equality and justice. 

It resembles a war zone. 

It IS a war zone. 

It is an indictment.

And it is a community.

I hope these images do it justice. 

While The Soul Slumbers: Linda Goodman's Star Signs

Madelyn...or Mad Elyn?

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Blog Post - 17 November 2019 - Remembrance Day

 Attending Remembrance Day Services on November 11 has been a Tayler family tradition since 1919. As a youngster in the early 1950s, I was taught about the role played by both sides of my family during World Wars One and Two. In World War One, my grandfather Tayler was a captain in the forestry corps that shored up trench walls along the Western Front. In World War Two, my paternal uncle was killed off the coast of Sierra Leone while ferrying a fighter bomber to the Far East. My paternal aunt served in the women’s division of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). That’s where she met her future husband, who was an aircraft mechanic in the RCAF. My father, who experienced a serious back injury just before the war, was unable to serve overseas, but he did serve in an army unit on Canadian soil that worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a subject he rarely talked about. My maternal uncle was an RCAF Spitfire pilot who specialized in divebombing Nazi freight trains. He met and married his Scottish wife while stationed in England. My mother organized Red Cross activities, including preparing medical supplies, in a tent on our front yard. There was nothing unusual in any of this. That’s what everyone was expected to do during wartime. After the war, you got on with your life. And – an important ‘and’ – every year at 11 am on November 11, everyone attended a Remembrance Day service to – well – remember. The first Remembrance Day service that I took part in was in 1955 when I marched with my Cub Scout troupe to the Cenotaph in Wellington. I still recall the absolute silence of the occasion, broken only by the sound of boots marching on pavement and the wind blowing off Lake Ontario. 

Attendance at Remembrance Day services is part of my genetic inheritence. 

And I honour that inheritance, but not uncritically– my reading of history convinces me that much of the armed conflict in this world is rooted in the unchecked egos and greed of small elites who gleefully send others into battle to bolster their own political and financial agendas. When I attend a Remembrance Day service, I don’t honour the privileged elites. Instead, I honour my grandfather, my father, my mother, my aunt, my uncles and all the other people who serve their country.

And, thus, on Monday, November 11, 2019, I made my annual pilgrimage to a Remembrance Day service. I hope these photos of that service honour those who serve. Thank you.