July 13, 1999

Victoria, the Alberta Portfolio VIII (Mountain View, Alberta)

Early on this morning, while the sun was still on the western side of Annie's house, Victoria and I went outside, along with a skull from Annie's wall, and a black infra-red proof cloth borrowed from one of the other artists. Ever since my arrival in Annie's house, I'd been eyeing the arrangement of skulls on the living room walls, drawn to the wonderful simplicity of their lines and form. Victoria shared my enthusiasm for the shape and form, and was more than keen to help me explore the possibilities.
35mm infrared film
Working in the diffused light on the shady side of the house, I exposed a whole roll of 35mm infra-red film, working with the skull in various positions on Victoria's body. The black cloth isolated the two elements in the image-frame, while the soft light lent a wonderful roundness to the forms which would have disappeared with a more direct light source.
35mm infrared film
Combining the Nude with the skull was far easier than I had expected, with the flow of the horns and bone easily mirroring the lines of the body. The meaning of such images is fascinating too, pulling me back to my earlier ideas of the Nude, mortality and photography. The wonderful thing about juxtaposing the body and the skull is that they are intimately related, in a non-linear manner. The skull serves as a memory of the impermanence of the flesh, and yet the two co-exist in the image in a most fluid way.
35mm infrared film
These images I think will lead to more; later in Alberta, and perhaps back in Nova Scotia. Annie, Victoria and I had lengthy conversations about the cleaning of bones and skulls (burying them underground near ant hills is one method), and her recommendation to buy cleaned skulls from an abattoir is still in the back of my mind.

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