|AMONG GIANTS by Andre Varela|
I have just watched on You Tube a lecture by John Cleese about Creativity. I always find it difficult to precis something I have just read or seen but I'll have a bash. One of the things Cleese said is that Creativity is not a talent but is very much related to an ability to behave like a child and to play. One either has a 'closed' mind at any given moment or time or an 'open' mind. When your mind is open you are able to be creative. Well, one day, my open mind looked at Flickr and saw Andre's work and it thought "Yeah, I could really work with this guy". Andre's open mind responded and he replied to my message on Flickr saying that he lived in Portugal and that he would like to come over to England with his partner, Catarina, as his assistant, and take my photograph. And so it was that eventually three open minds met at Gatwick Airport and they did not close until Andre and Catarina returned home three days later.
Andre is one of the most receptive, enthusiastic and open people I have ever met. In addition he is handsome, personable and kind. He is also a very, very good photographer. Yes, I know that I say that a lot and what do I know? I'm not a photographer and I have no idea how cameras work but I do have an opinion as every one does and in my humble opinion, he has a huge talent. Initially, he wanted me to find some locations in forests or on beaches. However, on the day of the shoot, I decided first to take them up to The Devil's Dyke and he was absolutely captivated by its beauty and magic as well as the amazing views. And it was there that this shot was taken. Afterwards, we tried more shots up there and then went to the beach and did some more. Then we returned to my house and did some more. We could have carried on through the night.
UNFORGIVEN by Andre Varela
In between all this, gradually, I got to know him and Catarina. They were originally going to stay with us but that wasn't possible because we had a full house so Joan Alexander, another wonderful photographer and human being, said that her friend, Martin Seeds, another wonderful photographer and human being (is there no end to this?) had a spare room and would be able to accommodate them. So, it was because of Andre and Catarina, that I met Martin - I might have met him anyway but later rather than sooner. I went round to his place to chat about it and to collect a key to give to Andre and Catarina and spent a good hour or so enjoying his very entertaining and erudite company. More on this in a future blog post - back to Andre and Catarina.
I collected them at Gatwick and I knew everything was going to work out well because my drive up the the motorway went well and the drive back went even better. I hadn't driven on a motorway for quite a while. On the way back to Brighton, we chatted in the car and, by the time we arrived, not only were we firm friends but they had already fallen in love with England (it was their first visit) and Brighton in particular. I took them to Martin's place and they all got on like a house on fire and later Jane and I had supper with them in the Lion & Lobster and it was talk, talk talk all evening. They were falling in love with Brighton and I was falling in love with them. I couldn't see them the next day; their original plan was to go to London for the day but they ditched that and spent the day in Brighton which they thoroughly enjoyed.
I said goodbye on the evening of the shoot and left them to find somewhere to eat. I gave each of them a hug and they responded with their Portuguese version and I felt sad that they were leaving. However, the following morning, I got up really early to see if I could catch them before they left and amazingly, they had got lost on the way from Martin's place to the railway station and, when I saw them floundering about in the road, I shouted out and they gratefully clambered into my car and I drove them to catch their train. I stood and watched as they walked up the platform and got into the carriage. They were gone. I sighed and turned away. I had a spring in my step as I did so and, as I skipped back to the car, I felt incredibly fortunate to be the person I am, doing the things that I do and meeting the people I meet.
I received the photographs very shortly afterwards. I'm sure that any decent photographer could take something similar but these were very special for two reasons. First, they were magnificent in their breadth and vision and secondly, they captured all the emotion that the three of us were feeling as we worked together. I was very moved by them because of this. I liked them all but this was the obvious choice to represent Andre in my project. Whenever I look at it, all I can think of is a beautiful couple, Andre and Catarina, at home in Portugal perhaps thinking of the time they came to England to see me and maybe, just maybe, we smile at the same time with the same amount of love in our hearts.
Andre and me