Arts, Down time, Places

A picture (or two), a flighty student, and a thousand words

It’s easy for me to think of myself as being a little flighty. You could shack me up alone on an wooded island for a week, plunk me down in the middle of Calcutta, or place me in the dusty old attic of Granny’s turn-of-the-century farmhouse, and I wouldn’t complain. But put me somewhere ugly, in a suburban strip-mall or in the midst of Ryerson campus (where I used to be a student), and this happy camper would be no more.

I had an epiphany a couple of years ago while walking around the St. George campus: it dawned on me that I am at my happiest when surrounded by beautiful things. By this I don’t mean that I want to swathe myself in beauty queens and Chippendales, but that I like to live in places where, when I look around, the landscape or the architecture shocks me with its charm. When I think back to most of the cities in which I’ve lived, the countries through which I’ve travelled, the farmhouses I’ve fallen in love with, even the forests I have camped in, this makes a lot of sense. When I can look around and breathe a silent “wow,” I am normally quite content.

Because of this trait I’ve sometimes wondered if part of the reason I like being at U of T is because I’ve fallen in love with the university’s old buildings, its snowy stone-enclosed pathways, and its grassy courtyards.

Visual Details I like most about U of T:

-The gargoyles. Sitting on the rooftops and corners of old campus buildings, tongues spilling out and eyes bulging.

-Imagining walking in the exact same places as my grandparents once did, 80 years ago.

-All the stone. Everywhere stone buildings. Old school, for Canadian standards, where everything outside of Quebec is new.

-Pane-glassed windows. Particularly when the sun shines through, and I’m on the receiving end. Patches of coloured light all over the floor.

-Light coming in through Vic’s giant windows, shining through the room in streaks and illuminating dust. Great for atmosphere in Latin class.

-The courtyards and back-passages. University College’s courtyard is probably my favourite, as all noise from the street is blocked out within its walls and birds sing in the trees.

-Iron-wrought details. The iron latches on old windows, complete with curly details.

-The maze of buildings. In winter, the walkways from one class to another leaving footprints behind.

-The piano player in UC who practices on the third floor, and who you can hear in spring and summer in the courtyard.

The Rare Books Library.

-The Rare Books librarians.

-First snowfalls in King’s College Circle. When I stand in the middle of the lawn, and no one is too close to me, I can imagine the campus as if seeing it in black and white, thanks to all the snow. A bit like the old black and white photographs my mother has collected from when her parents were students here.

– Mary

Mary

2 Comments

anon omis

Not to be a stick in the mud, but these photos are all rather unimaginative. They lack creative elements, many of them lack hierarchy and contrast. In all honesty these photos are very much the work of a novice, less cheesy effects, more time spent taking the photo.

Mary

Hello Anon Omis,

I’m not sure what you mean by “hierarchy” in a photograph, but those aren’t effects in the photos, assuming that you are referring to Photoshop. I took most of the shots with a Diana camera, which was a model produced in the 1960s and discontinued because of light leakage that seeps in through the lens and leaves the photos looking the way they do above.

I actually quite like the photos, and what the Diana camera does for images (not to mention the fact that you have to use old-school 120 film to use the camera), but I appreciate your comment nonetheless.

You should submit some of your own! Sounds like you’re at least a bit of a proficient, judging by your critique.

Mary

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