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ENERGY – a Picture in the Gaff Point Rocks

Form , texture, pattern, colour – all these things can be seen in the rocks, here on the south shore of Nova Scotia. One of the more remarkable sites for these discoveries has to be Gaff Point, a unique, unspoiled promontory at the southwest end of Hirtles Beach in Lunenburg county. The Gaff Point trail takes one through conifer forests, across heaths and grasslands, beside high cliffs and along a spectacular rocky coastline. It is here, among those rocks, that I have found some of the most beautiful samples of nature’s design and colour palette.

I have a particular affinity for these things; early in my career I was a graphic designer. It wasn’t something I ever trained for. Rather, I “backed into” a job as a paste-up artist when a company for which I had taken some photographs was desperate for help. It was work I took to easily. Early on, I was mentored by someone with years of design experience; it was he who loaned me The Xerox Publishing Standards: A Manual of Style and Design, and Editing By Design, by the great Jan V. White. These may sound like boring, corporate manuals, but they were far from it. Originally published in 1974, Editing By Design remains one of the seminal books on the subject of visual design for published media.

At the same time as I was exploring rational design, I was being exposed to more fluid ideas about art and images. I was working at the book publisher which distributed Abrams Art Books in Canada; at the time, Abrams was publishing a lot of coffee-table books about American Abstract Expressionists. These books began to open a new world of imagery and artistic expression to me. More so was the trip I made to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York to see some of these images in person. Now, I’m the first to admit that a lot of abstract art leaves me stone cold. But I do try to be “open” to unfamiliar forms.

I seem to take a lot of pictures of rocks. Perhaps it’s some strange confluence of right-brain/left-brain ideas and training that prompts me to look at the details in them. But I find it tough to make an image that really works – they are few and far between for me. This image, however, I count among my favourites.

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