Looking Out, Looking In

Helen Weaver’s second story in photographs

When Helen Weaver last exhibited her photographs at the Green Door Restaurant, it was all about business. This time, it’s personal.

Weaver co-owns the 3 Trees import store next door to the restaurant with her husband Kevin Hassell. They sell mostly silver jewelry and clothing. They go to places such as India and Nepal to hand-select their wares.

In her first photo exhibition in the fall of 2010,Weaver told the story of her relationship with the people she and her husband visited and how the items they sold reached Ottawa.

In her new exhibition entitled Looking Out, Looking In, Weaver tells a more personal story. She continues to feel the pull of far-off places.

“I take these trips to step outside of my regular life and change not only my scenery or my landscape, but my point of view,” she said. Last year, Weaver traveled to Asia (India and Nepal) again, but also took a family trip to Europe, visiting Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

She was captivated by animals she encountered at the Leipzig and Cologne zoos.

“In the exhibition, I have photos of chimpanzees, birds and lizards from this large urban zoo in Leipzig,” she said. “Everybody, including myself, is looking in at the animals with our cameras. I see the equivalent situation when photographing the people on my trips – beggars trapped in infirmity or poverty. I feel that I am looking into the lives of people and animals and I capture them looking out from their lives.

Photo right: A chimpanzee looking out from his home at the zoo in Liepzig, former East Germany. Photo credit: Helen Weaver

“The plumage and the costumes are so interesting to us. There is art, beauty and colour in these forms – both animal and human – but they look back out at us and we sometimes see their entrapment.”

“On the weekend of Jan. 13 and 14 this year, there was a religious festival which brought many pilgrims to the temple town of Pushkar, India, famous for its Brahma temple and its camel fair in November,” Weaver added. “Along the path to the temple there were pilgrims, beggars, drummers, people making food to feed the pilgrims, people selling plastic toys and kite flyers. It was like photographing the Canterbury Tales with the beggars gathering along the road to the temple and the pilgrims giving their alms to the poor.”

“I climbed up to the temple at Pushkar (which takes about an hour of strenuous uphill climbing),” Weaver said. “At the top you are rewarded with an amazing view of the valley and you find yourself in the company of many white-bodied, black-faced Langur monkeys. These creatures are constantly being chased off by boys with wooden sticks because they like to steal the food offerings left at the temple. The intensity of the gaze of these wild monkeys is remarkable.”

Photo left: Women wearing yellow saris in Pushkar, India during a religious festival in January 2012. Photo credit: Helen Weaver

Weaver’s photographs will be on display from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23 at the Green Door Restaurant at 198 Main St. The vernissage will be at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26. All are welcome.

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