Are you familiar with cyanotype?

This was my opening line when people came to my table at the Yuletide Fair at Bilston Creek Farm in November. Here’s the exciting news—- I get to go again! They accepted me for their Spring Market Series- there are 3 weekends and I will be at the last weekend March 31, April Fools Day, and April 2 (it would have been my Mom’s birthday).

The question: Are you familiar with cyanotype turned out to be a great conversation starter. About 5 people said that they were because they had been introduced to this early form of photography in Art school, or as part of their teaching degree. The rest of the hundreds of people I got to meet were happy to learn about it for the first time.

My answer to this question included about 5 sentences:

  1. How it’s made,
  2. I lost my daughter Ilse to a brain aneurysm when she was 21
  3. then how I came to learn about cyanotype,
  4. then how I realized that it is an exploration into my daughter Ilse’s favourite colours: blue and white something I didn’t realize until later and finally how
  5. I am grateful to explore Beauty in this way and as a flower farmer it has given me a different way of looking at flowers, grasses, and the small weeds that also grow in the cracks between the pavers…

Well, the reactions of people! Not something I expected, and perhaps not something that they expected either. I was humbled by people sharing of themselves. Many people had tears in their eyes all of a sudden. The conversations that followed were deep, genuine and beautiful. I felt so honoured that complete strangers would share their thoughts, sometimes their learning that they had acquired through their own lived experience. There were people who didn’t say very much because what they did was so reflective of a deep understanding, it was understood without words. They felt seen in that brief moment and so did I. So many people made kind comments about being inspired by my experience and the art that has resulted.

I was stationed next to a beautiful Christmas tree, decorated with handmade items made by the staff at a previous Christmas party. I offered to take people’s picture in front of this tree in this beautiful new barn. The light was fabulous! I lost track of how many pictures I took of families, couples, friend groups, individuals. It was so much fun! I offered to a young woman who was there with her friend if she would like me to take their picture. She enthusiastically replied yes, holding her iPhone in one hand and pulling an ‘old fashioned’ camera from her small purse- “Would you mind taking it with this?” “Absolutely!” She wound the little gear and it made that ticking sound that I haven’t heard in years – to advance the film to the next picture.. I looked through the view finder and then asked her…which way would you like the picture- up and down or wide? I felt the pressure I had forgotten about— because I was only taking one picture and it had to be “right”. I’m so used to the immediacy of the digital camera. For all the other people I took multiple pictures, sometimes just before “the picture” when the little one was looking up at their parent and the parent was smiling at them before they asked the little one to look at the stranger holding a phone up. When I snapped the picture and the young woman thanked me, I turned to go back to my table when I heard her say to her friend as they walked away….we will have this as a memory forever.

So I’m going back … although I don’t believe that that is ever a true statement. I don’t believe you can ever go back. Instead, I should say- I’m going back to the same location…a beautiful barn in between an apple orchard and a lavender field, where the sun streams through the windows, the acoustics are so good you can enjoy the music and the conversation with the person you have just met, where the Italian woofers who are working the food table where the delicious farm-made soup is steaming behind the table, where the kindness of one of the woofers is witnessed on the many occasions when each small child in a stroller is presented with a sprig of lavender as a welcome to the room…to the experience, something to hold and sniff and feel. I can observe all these wonderful, loving kindnesses from where I stand. I get to go again and meet lovely people and stand in a beautiful place with kind people.

I feel honoured to be given this chance again- to hear about how the flowers on my prints remind a newly married couple of their wedding in Wales last June, about the excitement of becoming a grandparent for the first time, about the memories people have of my Dad when they see my name on my book and ask if I knew a Lorne Loomer.

If you live anywhere near Metchosin, and you are looking for a lovely outing, perhaps combined with a hike down to the water after the fair or lunch eaten outside in the sunshine overlooking the lavender, I would invite you to consider coming to the Spring Market Series at Bilston Creek Farm—-

Since you read me here, you will answer yes to my opening question and we can talk about YOUR art, your appreciation of the little things and what you love about visiting Bilston Creek Farm.

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