Reflections on Anticipation : Honouring a Friend I Never Met

Remembering Tina Forrester.

Life is a funny thing, sometimes.

I started the kernel of this blog post last September, right after my inaugural Rhinoceros. I had such high hopes for writing monthly posts — now it is April and we are anticipating reuniting with our Summer clan for weekends up north.

The topic of my unpublished September post fragment — how much I like the off season — had at its core two works in progress that I’m still not sure about, and a subject that I enjoy on occasion: historic Steamships. During a very active period in 2013 I completed R.M.S. Segwun. She is available in several formats including greeting cards and special order prints. One of her sisters on the lakes, Wenonah II, is anticipating the 150th birthday celebration of her predecessor, Wenonah [I], at Muskoka Discovery Centre. In honour of the celebration, I started some sketches in the Fall, and really I was quite pleased with them. If all goes well I would love to complete them as companions to Segwun.

A different facet of anticipation has to do with friends and the people we know. I am a big fan of social media — facebook in particular — where I really enjoy exploring personal interest groups such as spirituality as well as the art community. It has also brought together a passionate blogging community of photographers, which I stumbled upon when I first created my Segwun. There is no easy way to tell this poignant story but to jump right in.

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Googling

segwun_tina

We see so many beautiful images on the internet, and most of them go uncredited. For the most part, people believe it’s OK to appropriate them for their own use, seeing the milieu as a public domain of sorts — which, in fact, it is not. As an artist/designer and an author I believe strongly in credit and copyright { the right to copy — or not } of so-called “intellectual property.”

My Segwun piece was initially a lark, to see how I would manage such a subject, having mostly sketched private homes in my new style up till then. Like many people, I started off with Google image search, and there in front of me was a fantastic photo, showing all her lines and positioned in a classic Fall backdrop. I had intended to make a start of my project using found images, and after I’d practiced enough, I’d shoot my own photo and use that for the final. The sketch turned out so well though, and when I did go down to the docks in Gravenhurst my own snapshots were nowhere near as useful for the sketching template as the one I’d found — Tina’s.

I know that it’s legal to create an homage, one’s own artistic version of an existing piece, as long as we don’t pass the original off as our own or include too much { some would say any } of the original in the derivative work. Whether copying the masters, riffing off the same topic, or recreating in another medium, it’s not considered plagiarism or copying but rather inspiration and interpretation.

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RMS Segwun

segwun_v3_square 150503_framed_528x

So I tried a sketch from my own not-so-stellar photo of Segwun, compared it to my original, and I made the decision to contact the photographer and request permission to publish my derivative, being based on her photograph. Well she was thrilled, and accepted a link back to her photo blog as a fine thank-you. Over the next couple years we connected as friends on facebook and began to get acquainted in that oblique way so common to the site. Knowing she lived nearby to me, I started to think it would be nice to go down and actually meet her in person. I’ll have a month or so to myself this summer and sort of projected that meeting into that time.

Just about three weeks into this line of thinking, I started to get posts in my feed with Tina’s site linked: in February of this year, she and her husband died in a car crash near their home. The photoblogging community erupted in shared grief and I discovered that Tina had hundreds of other friends who were just as in love with this friendly and talented photographer, who also wished that they had met her, and had also hoped to do so.

This blog post is my tribute to East Gwillimbury CameraGirl — Tina Forrester — and her husband and family.

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Coincidence?

wenonah_ii_tina

Does this story have a moral? I’m not sure. Maybe just some extra inspiration: be mindful and respectful of others’ creations, but don’t be afraid to make up your own versions. Seek permission when you’re not sure, credit and honour wherever you can.

As it turns out, when I’d looked online last Fall for an image of Wenonah II to begin the next round of sketches, whose do you think took the cake? Tina’s of course. I hope she won’t mind if both my Gravenhurst steamship pieces owe their sparkle to hers. Thank you, Tina.

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Room for Metaphor

We spend our time restoring and memorializing what we cherish of the past. I certainly enjoy doing so — much of the new I create is grounded in or copied right out of the old. Old family friendships, old decorating styles, old objects, old ideas, old sayings. From the compost of the past spring the seedlings that nourish us. A metaphor for a different post.

Celebrate what you love now. Life is short.

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