The Smiling Goat (and other stories behind my art show)
Apr 23, 2019 | By: Janis Jean Photography
The District of Central Saanich has called on me a number of times over the last few years to capture the municipality and help tell its story through imagery. It's given me an opportunity to explore and photograph the sights and sounds of all the back roads, trails, waterways, farms, community events and everything in between.
The District has a new art display in the main entrance of the Municipal Hall and will be showcasing local artists on a rotating basis. I was asked if I would be the first to show my work and hang some of my favourite photographs. I was absolutely thrilled.
I selected my favourite 6 photographs that were taken in Central Saanich - all but one were taken as part of my work with the District. I wanted to share each image and tell a little story behind each one. I hope you enjoy reading some of the back stories as much as I enjoyed doing them.
Smiling Goat - Ravenhill Herb Farm
What can I say? Send me into a field of goats to hang out with my camera and I will always have a good time. This little guy was my favourite - it isn't often you get to visit with a smiling goat! This was taken at Ravenhill Herb Farm on Mt. Newton Cross Road. The owners, Brea and Todd have one of the most beautiful hillside properties on the Peninsula and it truly is a little piece of heaven. They have goats, chickens and two big beautiful dogs that watch over the livestock. They live off the land organically and sustainably.
If you have never purchased the eggs from their farm stand you don't know what you are missing. They are shades of brown and green and everything in between. They are the most delicious eggs I have ever had. You can also purchase sprigs of different herbs and fresh seasonal organic produce. I never knew there were so many different kinds of garlic until I "shopped" at their farm stand. Delish.
Newman Farm at Sunset
This story has a little bit of a personal note that I would love to share.
Have you heard about Newman Farm? It is a historic farm that was donated to the District of Central Saanich. I was asked to photograph it and record some of its beauty and heritage. The caretaker, Bert, met me there one morning and I photographed the historic buildings, gardens and grounds. A few weeks later I got a call from Bert who asked if I wanted to come around at sunset to see the sunflower field behind the farm. I didn't know what to expect but when I walked up I was absolutely stunned by the beauty. The sun was setting and I was wandering through these amazing sunflowers, listening to the gentle buzzing of the bees going from flower to flower. I almost forgot to lift my camera up to record it.
Then something you don't hear everyday started in the distance - bagpipes! If you know me you know my family is from Scotland and I grew up with a love for the bagpipes. I know - not everyone can brag about that. My father has passed away years ago and everytime I hear the bagpipes I think of him...fondly.
So there I am in a field of sunflowers, under the setting sun and listening to the distant bagpipes in the middle of Central Saanich - in a way, with my father. It made a moment that I didn't think could get any better - amazing. Thank you to the distant pipers (whoever you are) for playing that night.
Who doesn't love Saanich Fair? I have been going to the Saanich Fair since it was located in Saanichton where Polo Park now is - needless to say, a long time ago. I remember as a young kid in school entering the photography contest each year and rushing to the exhibit to see if I won any ribbons.
I had set up my tripod in the middle of the Saturday night crowd at the midway (which is an experience of its own) and I wanted to capture some time exposures of the rides and the lights. As I was shooting, this couple came into the corner of the frame and starting to take a selfie.
Love at the fair!
Living around Central Saanich all these years, I've often been curious to see inside the old boathouse perched on the shore of Saanichton Bay. The boathouses are part of the Newman Farm property owned by the District and I was asked to photograph them.
These boathouses are used by the Tsawout First Nation Canoe Club so I connected with the head coach of the their youth paddling program. I wanted to ask for permission to photograph the inside and learn more about the program. Looking at this photo you can see how incredible this place is. It was such a pleasure to learn so much about the Tsawout First Nation and the youth paddling program. I tried to capture this image to record the history of the building but the also the cultural heritage and significance of these canoes to the Tsawout First Nation youth.
Every time I drive by Saanichton Farm on Stelly's and see the fields of wheat and barley I hear Sting "Fields of Gold" over and over in my head. It doesn't hurt that it is one of my favourite all time songs either.
Naturally, I thought I should capture an image of one of Bryce Rashleigh's beautiful fields at the perfect moment when the sun was setting. Unfortunately, when I contacted Bryce, he let me know they were going to be harvesting that day and I should come soon.
I drove up to the farm thinking I would comfortably stand at the fence (coffee in hand) and safely capture some images of his combine in the distance. Apparently Bryce had other ideas. Next thing I know I am on his gator out to the field (after saying hello to his free range turkeys of course) and then climbing up and riding shotgun on his combine getting a hands on experience of farm life! I loved it! This was one of my favourite images from that day - I called it "office window" because I think it tells a different story for so much of Central Saanich's livelihood.
Thanks for the fun Bryce!
Martindale Valley Vineyard
This is the only image in my "art show" that I didn't photograph for Central Saanich but it is one of my favourites that I took in Central Saanich last summer.
This is Tilar and Robert and they own and operate Parsell Vineyard in the heart of the Martindale Valley. I was introduced to them by a publisher who I worked for when I was doing work for a magazine last summer. Both Tilar and Robert are fascinating people; Tilar is a New York Times bestselling author and Robert is a university english professor.
Working on this assignment was one of the most fun sessions I have ever had. Wandering the vineyard and sitting on their terrace at sunset enjoying a glass of one of their Gamay wines was unforgettable. Tilar and I became fast friends. We all laughed until it hurt and enjoyed watching the sun go down over the valley while toasting to a good life and to future friends. An evening that will linger with me for a long time.