My neighbour is 98 years old. His mind is clear, perfect eyesight and he still cycles around to the shops or down to his boat in the harbour. Sometimes I’ll see him up on his roof adjusting the tv antenna or on a ladder cutting his trees. Then I never dare say hello, in case he would fall down. He did actually fall many years ago, from the roof(he’s a tin-smith) in to a flower bed and broke some ribs. Every now and then I go over for a glass of wine and some great stories. This evening we were a bit slow starting conversation but then he brought out his photo albums. Can’t believe I’ve never thought to ask him before! So many great pictures from the island but also from north of Sweden where he did his military duty. I sometimes joke that it’s age playing up when I can’t remember where I put my keys but this guy, he remembers all the names of everyone in his class when he was 10 and their parents names and where they were born. He claims the key to old age is never trust doctors or lawyers and eat a lot of fatty fish.
So the summer ended in an art bonanza. First The Artwave, when all artists on Hönö and surrounding islands open up their studios or homes. I shared my gallery for the weekend with a very talented glass artist but we hardly had time to see each other, on the Saturday we had a few hundred visitors! The weather on Friday when we set up was abysmal with torrential rain storms but the rest of the weekend was lovely. We sold lots of cakes and home made preserves and photographs on top of that. Then a couple of weeks later an exhibition with two photographers from another part of Sweden. They both do analog photography and a lot of the same techniques that I use. Great photographs and a lovely weekend! My husband smoked salmon and baked sourdough bread, I think I’m addicted to smoked salmon now, and we sold out most of the cakes on the second day. We were very generous with the opening times and I thought we would have to take turns or read books but the weekend past very quickly. On the last day it was more quiet and I took the opportunity to photograph my fellow photographers. Always nerve wrecking to photograph photographers but I hope I passed the test.
I’ve never felt as good as I did while running last year, then lack of time caught up, a cold and I stopped. Now my daughter got me going again. I’d forgotten how great it feels to run along, thinking about nothing and everything. In a few weeks I’ll even be able to run to the bus without dying. It does help having someone to run with and the biggest carrot of all, we live in such a beautiful place! The last week we’ve gone out every other day, exploring parts of the island that we haven’t seen much of before. I’ve gone back afterwards with my camera to take pictures. Yesterday my daughter was knocked with a cold but I decided to go out anyways(she’s getting into shape much faster than me so I’m taking no chances)I followed a tiny trail for about half an hour, the grounds were very wet which was good because it forced me to slow down and do some walking as well. It’s so hard not to over-do it in the beginning. With the mist and the waves along the dark seashore I had to stop myself from running home to get my camera. Here’s a darkroom print from one of our outings the other day:
There’s been some fantastic sunny days and I should have been out taking pictures but as always I do things the wrong way around so I’ve been cooped up in the darkroom instead. I love experimenting but in some ways I’m a person of habit like sticking with the same film and developer, recently everything’s changed. I accidentally ordered the “wrong” film, a new developer and my Swedish retailer stopped selling the Lith developer that I’ve used for years so I had to try a new one from Germany. I’m glad for it! The Lith prints have a lovely “pop” to them and beautiful tones. Feels like I got my mojo back. What’s even better is coming up from the basement after hours in the dark finding out that my husband’s got his baking mojo on. Fresh baguettes, sourdough bread and a large dish of shepherds pie in the oven. My daughter got inspired and decided to try out the new baking book we bought. Also a change in life, I’ve been using the same recipe book all my life, once in a while trying something from the internet but we invested in a new cookie book. She is very pretentious so one type of cookie wasn’t enough instead she declared that we had to try three recipes. The kitchen looked like someone had dropped a flour bomb in there but the cookies were great! Especially the chocolate/almond/peanut ones, gone already.
I have a person doing work practise with me until March. It’s proven the best way to get productive! Monday we packed the bike trolley and ventured down the beach to do wet plates. It was very wet indeed. The air was so cold and clammy that the glass plates kept steaming up but we managed some good plates in the end. Back home we warmed up in the darkroom and made contact prints from the wet plate glass negatives that I made in the studio over the weekend. One is a definite keeper, I think I’m becoming addicted to tulips.
Today the plan was doing more prints in the darkroom but the weather was just irresistible. Sunshine and everything covered in frost. So we went down the beach and the nature reserve with some old cameras and my favourite pinhole camera. Just stunning! I got my mind set on a picture I wanted and ended up getting my feet wet. Haven’t developed the pinhole negatives yet but I’m sure it was worth the pain. Happy, sunny and hungry we returned to develop some rolls of film in Caffenol. This is my favourite way of developing using only coffee, washing soda and vitamin-C, no bad chemicals. Even though I enjoy working on my own it felt great to share the day and also having an assistent on hand. I have a feeling February will be a very productive month!
For the first time wet plate photographers in Sweden gathered together at Donsö, an island in the southern archipelago, to do wet plates and hang out. With last weeks exhibition and one the coming weekend I wasn’t going to come but changed my mind the last minute. Since I hadn’t mixed any collodion recently and my camera holders are broken I didn’t do any photography and ended up being a model instead. Donsö is actually quite close to Hönö but there is no boat or ferry connection between the islands so it took me over two hours to get there by bike, bus, tram and ferry. There are no cars on Donsö, everyone’s got mopeds or golf carts to get around. We set it all up in the woods just by the water. The drawback with wet plate photography is that you need to bring so much stuff, our host had to do countless trips back and forth with all the equipment. It was a great location and we were very lucky with the weather to begin with. I went for a swim and tried to a floating model for one of the photographers, gosh it’s really hard to float without moving! Suddenly the heavens opened up and and the rain started pouring down. I sacrificed my raincoat to save some of the plates that had dried. All we could do was squeeze in to the eskimo tent and wait for it to pass. The rain kind of killed the mood a little bit and we were getting hungry and wet so our host drove us back one by one with all the cameras and plates. The rest of the evening we had a meal together and ended up talking until early hours. So great to get to discuss things with other people who know what you’re talking about and to see how everyone else does their plates. Definitely the beginning of a yearly event!
I set off to the Jesus cave or Kröckle kyrka(church) as they call it. It’s a little hard to find if you haven’t been there before but I have many times. The view from the top of the mountain is stunning, you can see Hönö, Öckerö, Björkö, Grötö, Fotö and the mainland from there. All over Hönö there are military caverns that we as children used to find very scary and mysterious, we
challenged each other to dare to go inside, now they are all blocked up or torn down. The cave is close to the top of the mountain. It’s called the Jesus cave or church because part of the rock on one of the walls looks like a portrait of Jesus(with some imagination). After taking some pictures I walked back through the forest and out on the rocks. I kept seeing faces in the pattern of the rocks. One of my favourite places on earth is what our friend call Planet of the apes, a lot of natives call the big rock Monkeyface. The rocks are all orange and the monkey head rock and puddles are probably one of the most photographed sceneries on Hönö but I never get tired of taking pictures of it. After three hours in the blazing sun without a drink and heavy camera bag to carry I was dead tired! Managed to make it home and after downing 2 large pints of ice-cold water developed a couple of rolls…just to find out that I’d wasted all the film from that day. I had managed to load the camera, that I had borrowed from a friend, incorrectly and so not one picture from the day. Think it’s time to choose a new profession soon, carpenter maybe? Anyways, I did have a lovely time so it was still worth it.