A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Streaking Meteors Past The Smoking Angel
Friday, December 12, 2008

I hate photographs of people with angel wings.

The only one I have ever liked is the one hanging in my den. It was taken and given to me by my photographer friend Brian Lynch in 1992. About three years later, while living in a tepee in Vernon he decided to go and watch a meteor shower. Lynch suffered from diabetes and in a previous accident had suffered a leg amputation. This time around while looking at the meteors streaking across the sky he stumbled and fell. In the hospital he was told his other leg would have to be amputated. We were told that he had a heart seizure, not long after, and died. I have missed this man every day of my existence and particularly when I look up at the angel in my den. I know that the little female angel is holding a cigarette in right hand. I smile.

Lynch was a large, quiet spoken, gentle and kind gay man. His life changed from one day to the next while proselytizing as a Mormon Elder in California sometime in the late 70s. He rang the bell at a house and the man who opened the door smiled and invited him in. It was Timothy Leary. Like Peter the Rock, Lynch left everything behind and became the man I learned to love. He was as good a photographer as I have ever known. He had a penchant for curating exhibitions. It was from him that I learned that big was not better. He told me once, "Alex, I love photographs that are not bigger than 4x5 inches. It forces the gallery viewer to come up close and almost put their nose on the glass. This creates and intimate situation that does not exist with big photographs."

I had a joint show with him at the Helen Pitt Gallery downtown sometime around 1991. A couple of days before the opening he suffered a stubbed toe and went to St, Paul's Hospital. The toe became a gangrenous leg which was then amputated just below the knee. This did not prevent Lynch from showing up to the opening in a taxi.

I miss going to his old studio/loft near BC Sugar. I miss having strong coffee and discussing photography, complete with f-stops, chemical formulas and his trademark Emerson effect for b+w printing. As my friends and I mutually wander off into our private lives I miss Lynch's smile and his voice and most of all those big manly hugs of his.

As I was looking at the angel today I remembered one of my poet friend Homero Aridjis's poems about an angel. He has written many angel poems. Aridjis, while probably at least an agnostic, has a deep belief (because he is a poet?) in angels. This one is one of my favourites.

The Angel Speaks

With words, with colours, in silence
they moved in, gave me wings and hair
locked me into human form.

And now like an mortal
with its silhouette and shadow
I am on the inside of me.

Stonemasons, painters and poets
laboured day and night
to shape me out of their dreams.

I want to escape the body's cage,
take back my original being, that
pure invisibility

Homero Aridjis from Eyes to See Otherwise
Ojos de otro mirar
Selected Poems
Poem translated by George McWhirter, Vancouver Poet Laureate

Habla El Ángel

Con palabras, con colores, en silencio,
me cercaron, me dieron alas y cabello,
me fueron encerrando en una forma humana.

Y ahora estoy adentro de mí mismo,
con silueta y sombra,
como cualquier mortal.

Lapidarios, pintores y poetas,
trabajaron día y noche
para darme la forma de su sueño.

Yo quiero escapar de la jaula de los cuerpos
y recobrar mi ser original,
el de la invisibilidad perfecta.


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