Words from Sicily: the art of sharing

These posts are slowly transforming into a kind of journal, where I share my photography and whatever I am thinking about. It’s great to share my creativity and it is becoming quite therapeutic to get some thoughts out of my head. It kinda gets crowded in my monkey brain filled with random ideas. I’m happy you are here to read along. It’s like unburdening yourself to a friend. Not only that the more you write, the more space you have for other things. Getting a thought out into the page liberates your thoughts and other ideas shuffle to the front of the line. It’s as if all of the ideas are linked hand in hand, as I write one another comes up from behind, from where ever ideas come from. So thanks for your beautiful comments, I think these words are beginning to flow quite nicely.

These days we seldom print out photographs, they just seem to accumulate on phones and SD cards. I remember when I first discovered photography just out of high school, developing rolls of film was a big deal. I’d discovered taking photos and thought it was important to record events (yes, this was before social media, the internet and smartphones which are all very new technology). It cost time and money to print out photos. Albums were bought and more time still was spent sticking images in them, sometimes with quirky comments and captions. I miss this tangible analogue way of preserving images. Apart from special occasions like weddings, birthdays or births, most things are stored away digitally.

It’s important to have something tangible, so I’ve begun printing out some of my photos, there are many online printers with special deals, so why not. Seeing my photos in print is exciting. It’s as if I’ve got a roll of film back from the lab all over again. Perhaps I’m beginning to show my age, but many millennials are discovering the joys of analogue film processing, which still has its appeal.

Me taking a photo at Taormina with my first digital camera an Olympus

Taking the time to go through the hundreds of photos I’ve taken over the years in Sicily. I can recall how I began with my traditional DSLR camera, then I bought my first Digital camera which was an Olympus that lasted a good stretch, it allowed me to take endless photos without worrying about the cost and time to develop. Then over the past decade the technology has just taken off, these days smartphones take better images than my Olympus did.

Since then I’ve been happily exploring the Canon universe of cameras, which has adapted so well (they also had wonderful film SLR’s, my first camera was a Canon). I like how you can have all of the manual functions of a professional camera in a little body, its perfect for street photography because so many of the older models were quite clunky and hard to manage.

Today there are endless choices on the market and photography is accessible to everyone, which is a marvellous prospect. Art and self-expression should be open for everyone, as we should all be flexing our creative muscles, this brings so much joy into the world.

I was recently reading about the American photographer Vivian Dorothy Maier, her story was rather heartbreaking. She worked as a nanny for about 40 years while pursuing photography as a hobby. The images she captured of the people and architecture of Chicago, New York and LA and from her journeys around the world are all so beautifully iconic, depicting a lifetime of human history.

Maier took more than 150,000 photographs during her life. The sorry thing is that she never shared them with anyone. Her photographic work was discovered after her death. A collector acquired some of Maier’s negatives by chance. After being unable to discover anything about her, he googled the name on the boxes of the negatives and prints. The search led to Maier death notice in the Chicago Tribune of April 2009. Since then her photos have become a viral sensation on Flickr.

It’s so saddening that Vivian Maier never thought her art was worth sharing. It’s a poignant reminder that art and creativity should be shared. Creativity is generous by nature, it speaks freely to others and always creates new conversations based on shared emotions and experiences. Share your art and connect yourself to others.

The idea of keeping photos stored in a hard drive is like keeping a completed novel in a draw, a new creation’s place is out in the world.

Vivian Maier’s story has inspired me to share more because my photographs are the fruit of my experiences in Sicily.
Each photo is a moment, a memory preserved from an individual point of view and time.

Like this shop sign from Taormina.
Now that we can’t visit this beautiful ancient, suggestive hilltop town which is usually swarming with international tourists, it seems poignant to see this little piece of signage again. I still feel the heat and humid confusion of the crowded streets.

I was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t get a photo without anyone walking in front of me. I wanted a little personal postcard, different from those tacky ones they sell in the souvenir stands on the side of the streets, like taking home a little tray of candid citrus or almond biscotti, sweet reminders that you can savour later.

So I looked up above all of the bobbing heads and noticed the strange snake-shaped ornamental dragon which was holding up the sign for Pasticceria Gelateria Etna. It was perfectly iconic with the Taormina amphitheatre, without having to buy a sun-faded postcard.

I can still hear the two elegant French tourists chatting over cappuccino as I negotiated myself between the alfresco tables on the side street off the main drag of the busy historical centre.
I cannot wait to visit Bar Etna, sit and have a coffee, with a pasta da mandorla. I promise I’ll never complain about the tourists or the heat again. As long as I get to go back to Taormina.

Speaking of missing things, I miss the eclectic world of Sicilian markets, from the hodgepodge and confusion of farmers and agricultural markets to the unexpected finds of the weekly Mercato di paese.

There have been endless protests all over Italy from travelling salespeople who need the markets to make a living. I hope they get help or can sell from a physical store.

It would be so dismal to see the end of open-air markets in Italy. Food-based markets have remained open during the pandemic with reduced capacity, but big bustling fiere and festas have been suspended at least for the rest of 2021. It’s amazing how the world has changed, that freedoms have become memories for now.

I’m holding onto this moment and remembering the banter with the stall keeper, the joy of tasting a new cheese, buying olives, sotto olio and bread for a picnic in the nearby mountains.

All at my favourite Sunday markets at Randazzo at the foothills of Etna. The market takes over the city streets with a hum and buzz like the energy of a beehive, everyone walking past and rummaging through the stalls. Vendors sprucing and screeching while rhyming in their dialect, trying to get your attention.

I can’t wait until Corona is a memory and we can get back to the sights, sounds, tastes and fun of a good old Sicilian market.

I haven’t been home in Australia for nearly two years, which makes me nostalgic. But the truth is, even though I live in Sicily I haven’t been able to see much of my adopted home either. It’s also been two years since I’ve been able to venture out of my home province of Messina.

I miss being able to take the mountain road through the Nebrodi mountains up through Floresta (the highest townsite in Sicily at 1,275 meters above sea level) to Santa Domenica Vittoria the last town in Messina province before stepping over into Catania province and the series of towns heading towards the baroque Catania, Randazzo, Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla. I have people to meet and many places to see still.

We’ve heard and seen the t.v images of Mount Etna’s magnificent eruptions, but we haven’t seen the mountain in the longest time.

I like to hold onto the last photo I took of Etna from my Zia’s house at Biancavilla. Mamma Etna is like an old friend I can’t wait to see again.

4 thoughts on “Words from Sicily: the art of sharing

  1. Thank you for your thoughts… you have endured a lot over the past two years and your creativity and sharing is a huge credit to you… it’s interesting to look back at how things are changing and to wonder about the future… I join you in thinking about where this is heading long term….

    1. Thanks Emily. It’s been a difficult couple of years. But Corona has made every one suffer this year. Everyone is wondering about the future. Creativity helps💜 Thanks for your comments and support.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. The whole point of a blog is to share your feelings and opinions, it’s what makes this outlet for sharing and storytelling so special! 🙂 I’ve definitely always loved photography – they really do capture a moment in such a way that you can relive it every single you look at it.

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