Saturday, December 04, 2010

December's wintry beauty

When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
Helen Keller

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Albert Einstein

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

A difficult year is ending and the quotes above reflect my current state of mind. December is here with its wintry beauty. This little drop of ice hanging on a dormant branch with buds waiting to burst into spring blossoms says it all.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A very sad loss

Words cannot express the pain my family and I feel from the tragic loss of my brother's wife. Helene was so sweet, gentle, and kind. My heart is crying out while my mind is trying to come to terms with the senselessness of it all ...

But I know she will always be with us in spirit ...
for my brother and my niece ...

"Say not in grief that she is no more
but say in thankfulness that she was
A death is not the extinguishing of a light,
but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come."


Saturday, October 09, 2010

The High Road

Terry Fallis has done it again. The High Road, the sequel to his award winning novel, The Best Laid Plans is a compelling read. With enough action to flip the pages fast, enough honest, caring, politicians to regain faith in the system (even though temporarily), enough satire about Canadian politics to inform us about the sad, inner workings of parliament, enough feisty seniors and fine young men in wild outfits to discourage stereotyping, enough wit to feel charmed, enough slapstick humour to laugh out loud, and well ... enough romance to go ooohh ahhhh ...

Terry is a friend, and I can't help seeing little bits of his personality in the fictional character of Daniel Addison, that same wit and humour, that same integrity, but with none of the gaucherie that gives Daniel a propensity to slip and fall on icy porches with no clothes on ...

Now, if that's intrigued you, the book can be purchased at any major bookstores or online. It's a light read and feel-good novel. Well done, Terry. Good luck.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Gandhi on love

I was in Mauritius for a short trip and walked for a long, long stretch along this beach at Flic en Flac. It was so calming to watch the waves swell back and forth and splash their foamy frills along the shore. Such a wonderful way to relieve the stress that had accumulated over the last months ...

While I was there, inspired by a friend's fascination for Gandhi, I finished reading The Essential Gandhi, an anthology on his writings, his life, work and ideas. Here's a man who dared to dream of freedom for his country, a man who held on to his belief in non-violence, and just marched with unshakable conviction towards his goal. We need more visionaries like him to lead this world, visionaries who are not sidetracked by the lure of material gains, visionaries who believe in the inherent good in people, and have the ability to bring it out.

This quote from Gandhi reflects what I've always felt about the far-reaching power of love.

"We are bound by the ties of love … Scientists tell us that without the presence of the cohesive force amongst the atoms that comprise this globe of ours it would crumble to pieces and we would cease to exist, and even as there is cohesive force in blind matter so much must there be in all things animate and the name for that cohesive force among animate beings is love … where there is love, there is life, hatred leads to destruction …"

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Moving on with love

Time is flying. I feel as if I'm riding on summer 's overheated and restless wings. Going through major changes in my life right now. I'm moving on towards new creative horizons ... Hope to write more regularly in the fall when things settle down.

Finished reading Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. His conviction that "All living thing desires above all to vent its strength ..." and that self-preservation is only a consequence of this will to power, gave me much food for thought, casting a different light in the current way I see relationships, its struggles, and the reason why some marriages don't work and others do.

However, Nietzsche's claim that men have more depth than women shows that even a deep-thinking man like him can be shallow. His condescending view of women as superficial creatures who want to be possessed, is sexist, and lacks true knowledge of the complicated feminine nature.

He seems to take pleasure in challenging preconceptions by pushing thoughts to the extreme, thoughts that repel, yet intrigue and tend to divert comfortable thoughts towards unnerving directions. For example when he writes, " ... woman would like to believe that love can do everything – it is her characteristic faith. Alas, he who knows the heart divines how poor, stupid, helpless, arrogant, blundering, more prone to destroy than save is the best and deepest love."

We have all experienced at some point or other the destructive aspects of "falling in love". But love is so much broader than the raw feelings of couples. It encompasses friendships and kind feelings for others that bring a spiritual and emotional level of connection that is uplifting ... perhaps the will to love is the feminine version of the will to power.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A sad day for Toronto

I expected peaceful demonstrations and was shocked by the violence on Toronto Streets. It is sad to see so much energy spent on destruction. Here are some quotes that reflect best my thoughts on this matter.

"La violence, sous quelque forme qu'elle se manifeste, est un échec." Jean-Paul Sartre
Violence, no matter in what form it shows itself, is a failure.

"An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi

“When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is hard to shake hands with her.” Oscar Wilde

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." Thomas A. Edison

"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World cup fever in Toronto

Toronto is effervescent. Flags of countries participating in the world cup are flapping on top of cars. Some vehicles even sport flags of three different countries. The city feels so international, so warm and expressive. FIFA world cup is just another opportunity for Canadians to celebrate their country of origin. When cars honk at passers by on the street, waving the flag of the country that just won, it's so natural to wave back and share the excitement. It doesn't matter who won. I cheer for all of them. I love this city.

The G20 summit is making the core of the city inaccessible ... a nightmare for car drivers. Full coverage in the papers range from Toronto being on the world stage to fashion tips about how women should dress for a demonstration ...!

Spring has bloomed into summer. I feel as if I'm floating now that I can walk around in sandals and cotton dresses. Hope has bubbled into enlightenment. There is so much positive energy around ... so much love to be shared.

Wishing you all a glorious summer ...

Clear Lake on a peaceful, soul-searching weekend

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nietzsche on morality of "the herd"

When going through challenging times, I tend to read whatever helps to clear my confused mind and heart. Usually, some psychology or self-help book. But this time, just because it was lying around for future reading, I threw myself into Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.

It is perhaps odd that I would choose to struggle through such complicated thoughts when my mind is in a state of chaos. But a perverse will that ignores soothing meditation, and craves knowledge pushed past any protest. I charged through the book like a desperate person hacking away at dense jungle vegetation. With the blind faith of finding light. And a few rays of clarity did peek through.

In spite of the arrogance with which Nietzsche tears apart other philosophers, I do admire his deep insight.

The chapter On the Natural History of Morals did not offer solutions to my confusion, but strengthened my own beliefs. Here's Nietzsche's observation on the moral perspective of the community in the 19th century, that I find very pertinent, "... everything that raises the individual above the herd and makes his neighbour quail is henceforth called evil; the fair, modest, obedient, self-effacing disposition, the mean and average in desires acquires moral names and honours."

As an artist, I tend to stay away from the repressive morality of what Nietzsche describes disparagingly as "the herd". I often sadly see reason used as a manipulative tool to conform to moral standards that tend to kill the creative soul. Societal guidelines are of course conducive to peace and order, but we're all individuals and find fulfillment and happiness in different ways.

In the end, it is more important to be true to ourselves while respecting the morality of others without having to conform to them. And I'm glad I'm not living during Nietzsche's era. Things have really loosened up since then...

Spring is here and the trees are showing their sexy lingerie, as my friend Judy loves to describe the lacy pattern of budding leaves. It is time to leave behind the "winter of our discontent" and embrace the new hopes of spring ...

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Thanks to all who came to the show opening of Canadian Women Revealed yesterday. It was so wonderful to reconnect with friends I haven't seen in a while, to see familiar faces as well as new ones. Your support is so heart-warming. Thanks Tony, Kieran, and Liz for being such wonderful hosts and for serving the delicious appetizers.

To all those who took part in the contest, good luck. For those who haven't had a chance to drop by De Sotos, the exhibition runs until May 30th. Contest closes on last day and results will be announced by June 4th. I will be there every Thursday evening from 6 pm as well as Sunday morning from 11 am to 2 pm. Looking forward to seeing you there ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Canadian Women Revealed

An invitation to my photography show for Contact Photography Festival. Hope to see you there.

Photography Exhibition: Canadian Women Revealed
Date: May 1-31, 2010
Location: De Sotos, 1079 St. Clair Ave West at Lauder, Toronto
Hours: Tues-Sat 5-11 pm Sunday 11am-11pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 1st, 4-6 pm

What defines the Canadian woman? Without the trappings that mark her station in life, can you tell the lawyer from the artist? Is ethnicity skin deep? This exhibition presents portraits of women without their clothes on. The viewer is invited to guess the profession and ethnic background of the women in this suggestive documentary project that challenges personal, social, and cultural preconceptions.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is in the air

Life has these phases when you're totally submerged and need to lift your head out of the water, take a deep breath - right now it's a breath of spring - before plunging into the frenetic rhythm again. Or perhaps it's more like a struggle to keep afloat while the current pulls you down. Swim or sink ...

Currently working on an exhibition for Contact Photography Festival and many many other projects. But the fresh smell of spring makes me feel like running down the street and dancing ...

There have been some respite while working away ... especially Thursday evenings at De Sotos' open mike with Anthony Abbatangeli and friends.

Monday, March 01, 2010

O Canada, you're the best ...

What an amazing finish to the Winter Olympics... Our hockey gold was worth all the nail-biting, heart-pounding and stressed-out cheering when I could hardly breathe. It was as if Canada's sense of well-being depended on this little black puck getting into the net. Amazing how this sport can galvanize a whole nation.

I'm not a hockey fanatic, but for some reason, whenever I watch a game, I get so involved that I find myself screaming 'get the puck out of there' or 'shoot now'. This excitable involvement used to be a source of much amusement among friends whose sons and mine played hockey on the same team: 'This island girl from the tropics doesn't know much about hockey but she sure knows how to give advice ...' Let's say I get caught by the passion of the game, and in that instant we're all the same no matter where we come from. And that's what it felt like yesterday when we beat U.S. to win the gold. An explosion of joy for our national sport. A moment of pride to be simply Canadian.

Here are some fans cheering in Toronto

Friday, February 12, 2010

Conquer ... with love

"Toutes les batailles de la vie nous enseignent quelque chose, même celles que nous perdons."
Paulo Coelho

All the battles in life teach us something, even those we lost.

Coming back brought many sad issues to deal with. The passing away of my mother-in-law. The plight of Haitians, after the devastating effect of the earthquake, is still with us. Looking at the brighter side, the effervescence of the Winter Olympics, because it's on Canadian soil, has spread its positive vibes over the city, over our snow-filled country.

And yes, I believe that love does resolve a lot of problems.

"Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love."
Mahatma Gandhi

Wishing you all lots of love for Valentine's day ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Venus d'ailleurs - The story of Chinese immigration in Mauritius

A bonus to my photo exhibition trip: the documentary on Chinese Immigration in Mauritius, the last one in a series of four was launched a few days before I left.

Here's a preview, and an article on the film by Alain Gordon-Gentil and David Constantin.

I contributed to the documentary while I was visiting China to retrace my father's footsteps. Watching the finished product on a giant screen, in a theatre packed with 300 people was awesome. The music, words, and images seemed as if they were magically put together in this dramatic production that recounts the life of Chinese immigrants, among them my father.

Thanks to Alain Gordon-Gentil's vision, his desire to share with the world the richness of his beloved island's history and culture, we now have a series of four documentaries to better understand Mauritius, its people, and what makes it thrive as a nation.

The documentaries can be purchased from Pamplemousses Production.
Tel: 230-247-1093

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