I've been very fortunate to have the opportunities of international travel incorporated in the filming projects that have come my way. To a large extent this is due to the fact that the diversity of careers I have pursued enable me to communicate with a wide spectrum of people identifying intuitively with their intimate motivations and goals.
I trained as a classical pianist up to the age of 21 and the musical piano training that I received at University level under the renowned chamber musician pianist Lamar Crowson continues to inform and inspire me to this day. All it takes is one individual to germinate the seeds of creative engagement that can sustain one for a lifetime. My musical journey continues and I spend many hours playing Bach and studying counterpoint, playing in chamber music groups as well as teaching privately. I came in contact with EMAE while working on another project for FORA which is a company that specialises in creating modern work space community hubs. One evening after filming an event at FORA I reluctantly stayed for a glass of prosecco. It ended up being a bottle. And thank God I did. It was the first time I had really chatted to Paola, Fora's Event Manager and we discovered a shared love of classical music and education. We made an arrangement to meet her husband Alberto who runs the EMAE and is the driving force behind many of the musical initiatives that get young people together in playing baroque music.
When I met Alberto I was enormously impressed by his visionary compulsion to bring together the research capabilities of the academic with the charismatic expressiveness of the concert musician. As a team Alberto and Paola have been involved in educational enterprises both in Italy and in the UK and they both wanted to find ways of bringing their music education vision to a greater audience for the purposes of attracting more students and also to gain more funding to sustain the organization. Within weeks they had flown me to Spain where I filmed the EMAE Orchestra prepare over a few days the repertoire for a chamber music concert and for a bigger orchestral concert in the heart of Barcelona. To be around music and to witness the level of dedication and excellence that the EMAE teaching staff inspired particularly in the Spanish countryside made filming a sheer pleasure. This though turned out to be just the beginning of an even bigger adventure.
Back in London I visited Paola and Alberto for dinner and for some editing revisions of the Barcelona documentary. Towards the end of the evening Alberto mentioned that he was going to Cuba to play in a festival with a chamber group he had started called the Wondering Fiddlers. The aim of this group was to create funds for bigger cross cultural projects that involved teaching Baroque playing techniques and music programs for concert performance in festivals that brought together musicians from the towns and villages in the designated country. Cuba was the country of choice and Bayamo a small town of quite historical and cultural significance was the location of a Barqoue Music festival. Weeks later I was flown to Havana and found myself squashed in the backseat of a car driving a thousand kilometres across the island to Bayamo. For me the beauty of Cuba is in it's people. There is a strong sense of shared hardship but this never outweighs the sheer joy for life and boundless energy they have for the expressive arts. Not being able to communicate in Spanish although a disadvantage I was amazed at the beautiful empathy that seemed to emanate from simple gestures of thanks or an intuitive glance that showed understanding of a situation. Alberto amazed once again with his effortless delivery of musical thought in Spanish, Italian and English and his charismatic presence was an inspiration to all who worked with him. Again to film in such an exotic location, surrounded by musicians and a very supportive network of local Cubans who were lovely beyond belief was a sheer pleasure.
Bluman Associates is a company that specialises in creating and video mapping content for display at major events, concerts and even politically inspired information campaigns that pop up around the city of London and beyond. Despite being a small company they have been involved in massive projects around the world. Their video mapping techniques and lighting expertise enable them to wrap buildings in beautifully inspired graphics often accompanied by dynamic music that skillfully blend with the changing video content. Quite some time ago when I was developing my skills as a photographer and friends were getting me involved with work projects I was called upon to help out in a guerilla campaign that required me to take photos of the projections onto iconic buildings around London. A wide angle lens, a tripod and some beautiful images later and I began to get called back in to photograph and video more behind the scenes content. I love these kinds of projects because the content is always inspired and the type of events vary hugely. It could be Ed Sheeran singing at the RoundHouse along with other celebrities in front of video content promoting mental health, or driving from location to location at breakneck speed to provide content for information campaigns around London or flying to New York to document the behind the scenes of a Candy Crush Event. The latter was a particularly thrilling experience as I had never been to New York and the event to promote a new Candy Crush game was projected onto a skyscrapper in downtown Manhattan. This particular projection was record breaking as the size and scale of it was enormous. Over 30 projectors were used to illuminate the content and the behind the scenes technical build up was incredible to document and be part of.
Fora is a company that have revolutionised co-working spaces in London. From Shoreditch to Borough they have acquired buildings that they have refashioned into beautifully articulated office spaces often with panoramic views over the London skyline. Part of their ethos is driven by the desire to create affordable office spaces that are a reflection of the local community. Rather than driving locals out there is a drive to create a community hub and this is reflected in the many events and talks they host. I've filmed and photographed many of these divers events from Design Weeks, International Women's Day week to Film Festivals. They also have awesome end of year parties for there highly energetic staff who love to boogey.
For many years I didn't travel. I think deep down I was still a little traumatised by the early years of my life traveling between continents, always being the new kid in the class and not belonging anywhere. Finally when my parents settled in Cape Town I remained farily solid in my commitment never to relocate again and until the age of 30 had generated such a fear of flying that I was convinced that the universe was actually against me travelling. However by my early thirties I had had enough of my safe existence. Cape Town is a small city and my parents and heritage being British was slowly beginning to pull me to London. All my siblings had done the London thing and eventually settled down there. So my turn arrived and with just £2000 I relocated to London. The plane didn't crash and suddenly I was confronted with a really new beginning in a fast and dynamic city and boy was I forced into growing beyond all my expectations. Part of the early years of my life in London were spent training to become a sommelier. Having grown up in Cape Town I had acquired a rather brutal pallet and French wines seemed a little watered down. My experience of wine was more of a stand alone experience. A superficial sundowners mentality that had a disregad to the matching of wine with food and the primary taste groups. Hakkasan where I worked was a dynamic michelin star restaurant with a fantastic wine menu and each week the sommeliers would gather over a period of year to study WSET courses while navigating through the extensive international wine list that Hakkasan offered its customers. The idea that a bottle of wine and its contents could be like a photo - a snapshot of a place - with taste profiles affected by the region, the particular demographics, climate and production techniques was new to me and this ignited a desire to travel to these places where wine culture was intrinsic to a city and regions way of life. After winning a trip to Champagne and experiencing first hand the complexities and marvels of that regions wine making procesess I was hooked. I have travelled widely and continue to do so and have found that the cities that generate the most intimate feelings of belonging and resonance for me are cities with a wine culture and industry. Wine brings people together in conversation, in sharing meals and in experiences. No matter where you go in the world this culture is shared and brings with it friendships and fun.