Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What a wonderful world ...

I've come back to earth when I landed in Toronto on Sunday. The photo exhibition in Mauritius was such an overwhelmingly positive experience that I felt as if I was floating in another reality, a warm, seductive, tropical one.

The Photography Museum is an amazing little treasure nestled in the heart of Port-Louis, the island's capital. It was such a privilege to exhibit in this old stone house built centuries ago by French colonials. The museum was created by Tristan Bréville and his wife, Marie-Noëlle. Their dedication to photography, and Mauritian history and culture is truly inspiring. They seem to be at the hub of a larger community of talented Mauritians. Through the Brévilles, I've met artists, photographers, musicians, writers, and could finally sense the creative pulse of the island. And love it so much that I'd like to go back there every few years to mingle with those artists and exchange ideas and perhaps work on projects together.

It was also wonderful to renew contact with friends from high school. And so neat to recognize them after three decades. It was always the eyes that brought back memories of them as teenagers, that brought back that instant connection of having shared many special moments together. The eyes, truly the windows of the soul.

We got together for dinner, and my dear friend Angèle brought a guitar. Such a thrill to strum along as we all sang french ballads of Françoise Hardy, Barbara and Georges Moustaki. It's amazing how music brings back memories, and have a way of flooding one's senses with the melancholy of that time.

Friends and relatives were so warm and supportive, making the show a memorable experience. Mahen Bujun, a talented cameraman and a terrific friend, filmed the opening reception but I have yet to learn how to put it online.

There were so many positive reviews and coverage on the exhibition that I felt really spoiled, like a kid wallowing with delight in the warm welcome: radio & TV interviews, numerous newspaper articles.

After the show was over, it was fun to trek around the island, take photos in villages along the coast, and meet Mauritians going about their daily tasks along the breathtaking backdrop of mountains, sugarcane fields, and shimmering sea. I hope to tell their stories in pictures in an exhibition in Toronto next year. Thanks to all who drove me around to show me the Mauritius they love. Harold, Ahfee, Monique, Ahlien, Angèle, Ahlan, Patrick, Eric, Robert, Bernard, Tristan, Alain, it wouldn't have been the same without you.

Thanks also to Christiane and Dominique for introducing me to Rodrigues, an unspoiled island that is part of Mauritius but did not develop as fast. It has retained its natural charm with cows and goats grazing freely near streets, people walking about, their contours outlined against an endless sky, and a constant, ever-present sea.

And thanks to everybody who came to the show, I hope you were inspired by photos of le Canada que j'aime, and will visit some time.
















Guests listening to the opening comments by the mayor of Port-Louis.
Photo by Tristan Bréville
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