Archive for May 2007
We had a wonderful weekend on Salt Spring Island. Kristi spent last week there co-facilitating the review of the islands official development plan. I arrived on friday just as all the final presentations were taking place. My first impression of the large and engaged crowd was that they’d best put their efforts into seniors housing and graveyard planning, given the median age was about 70. Nonetheless, they were bright-eyed and healthy-looking, and not quite ready for the boneyard yet, but it was obvious that demographics are a concern for the island’s future. Land is simply too expensive for young folks to afford, it seems, plus there may not be that many interested in a rural life.
We spent saturday exploring the island. The Ganges market was on, and there were many beads and baubles for sale to appease the most discerning hippie. There were also fantastic breads and local cheeses and pea greens and potstickers and fudge and baked goods. Yum. I had a great coffee at the Saltspring Island Coffee Co.
We enjoyed Salt Spring’s pastoral beauty on a driving tour of the island, then we camped in Ruckle Park, right on the water. It was great to hear the waves splashing on the shore, and got me excited for our trip to the West Coast Trail in July.
The rain pitter-pattered on our tent in the night, and yesterday was more soggy and grey, but we still enjoyed ourselves. We went on a great walk in Bourgogne Park among mossy boulders, arbutus and a gorgeous large stand of Garry Oak. We also visited the Moonstruck Organic Cheese farmstead (http://www.moonstruckcheese.com/), where they produce the most delicous cheese I’ve had since I was in France. We conversed with the delightful jersey cows who deliver the milk for the cheese.
We caught the mid-afternoon ferry home, via Victoria, and ran into Debou on the home run. He’s just got a part-time job driving a whale-watching boat, and is very excited about that. He’d lost two of his roommates somewhere on the ferry, though.
Kristi is making great headway on her knitted bag (she’s knits unconsciously now, and can look around while she’s doing it). I’ve started reading 1491 and Everything is Illuminated, which does a great job of butchering the english language.
Today I hung my first solo show – twelve images from Angkor at the Radha yoga studio and eatery. It’s not exactly MOMA, but it is a lovely space in a brick-walled heritage building, and the images suit the aesthetics of the place. It was a great deal of work (and expensive) to get the show today, but it’s great to see the images enlarged to 16×20 and hung on the wall.
Here is my write-up:
Images of Angkor
Angkor is a region in Cambodia that served as the seat of power of the Khmer empire from the 9th to the 15th century. Spread over almost 200 square kilometres is a collection of temples that form one of the greatest collections of Hindu and Buddhist architecture in the world. The principal temple of Angkor, Angkor Wat, was built in the 12th century and is considered to be the largest single religious monument ever built.
Largely reclaimed by the surrounding jungle after it was abandoned in the 15th century, it wasn’t until the 19th century that archaeologists began to uncover many of Angkor’s magnificent temples, although some, like Angkor Wat, remained in use. Some temples to this day are still entwined with the giant trees that have grown to become part of their very structure.
Over the last decade, the volume of tourists visiting Angkor has increased exponentially. With a million visitors annually, the character of the site is changing. The centrepieces of Angkor – Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Angkor Thom – are crowded with tourists descending from buses from dawn until dusk, and the local town, Siem Reap, is being transformed and redeveloped by the economic energy the tourists bring. Yet despite this inundation, there remains an incomparable beauty and elegance in the temples of Angkor.
About the Photographer
Ben Johnson is a Vancouver-based photographer whose images are ethnographic and documentary in style. He has travelled extensively and has photographed subjects in India, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.