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A tapestry of Bermuda and amazing people

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Amanda Temple has spent the past few months drumming up personalities for Tapestry of Tales. The book’s release will coincide with an exhibit at Masterworks next year. The photographer spoke with Lifestyle about the project and how the public can help her move it forward.

Q: What’s the strangest reaction you’ve had knocking on doors?

A: The original idea for Tapestry of Tales had been to wander the island and just knock on random doors, but once I decided that a book would be the best way to exhibit the images and the stories, I felt it would be important to include a few of the island’s well-known characters. So before knocking on strangers’ doors, I started with photographing a few people I know and a few that were pre-arranged. My first unknown door was an old Bermuda house in Pembroke with crumbling steps and peeling paint on the shutters. I knocked on the front door, but there was no reply, so I wandered around to the back of the house. A man opened the door with a 12-inch knife in his hand. I was pretty taken aback, but it turned out he was chopping carrots for a lamb stew he was making for himself and his wife.

Q: About how many people have you captured?

A: I have been to 74 homes and photographed nearly 100 people.

Q: Most people agreed to participate?

A: I thought I’d only have about a 50 per cent success rate, but in the 11 months of shooting, only six people turned me away.

Q: What’s been the general reaction when you’ve approached people?

A: I was overwhelmed not only by how many people invited me in, but also by how candid and kind they were.

Q: Glad able to profile Johnny Barnes before he died? What was that like?

A: My first subject was my father [Robin Blackburne], the second was Johnny Barnes. It was January, and just one week after he had stopped his daily trek to the Foot of the Lane. He was rather frail, but still in good spirits, incredibly warm and, of course, said goodbye to me with an ‘I love you’.

Q: Any other “famous” people involved?

A: I have been incredibly fortunate that so many people agreed to be a part of this project. A few of the recognisable portraits are of Premier Michael Dunkley, [artist] Graham Foster, [Olympic sprinter] Tré Houston, [entertainer] Heather Nova, [Chewstick founder] Gavin Smith, [Oracle skipper] Jimmy Spithill, [politician] Kim Wilson and [actress] Lana Young.

Q: What’s been the best part of the project for you?

A: It has been an absolute pleasure meeting such an array of really interesting people. Some of the stories people shared are historically significant and others tell the tales of events that are current.

Over the years, my photography has been polished, timeless, romantic and beautiful. These images are also beautiful, but in a very different way. They are far more raw and varied and I have endeavoured to edit the images to enhance each person’s character.

I was asked why I had chosen the heart for the book cover and realised that at the time it had been purely because I was fond of this particular image.

As my journey progressed, however, the heart became the perfect symbol for the project as it became clear that this book was not really about people’s homes. While spending time with people, regardless of age, nationality, family dynamic or socio-economic status, I found that the common thread was love.

Everyone was nostalgic, treasured their memories and their family history. Often, the most cherished objects were not valuable, they were sentimental. Home really is where the heart is.

The combination of portraits, still life and scenic photographs has created a beautiful tapestry of Bermuda and the extraordinary people that call the island home.

Q: When will the exhibit take place?

A: The exhibition and book launch will take place on April 28 at Masterworks. I have joyfully toiled away and spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on the text and images and I am overjoyed at how it is all coming together.

Q: Why’d you decide to self-publish?

A: I knew from the beginning that I wanted to self-publish in order to retain complete creative control. As such, to assist with the design and printing costs, I am pre-selling the book online through Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website. I have been delighted by the support I have received so far, but there is still a long way to go. To pre-order a copy of the limited edition book, please visit the campaign page via the Tapestry of Tales link on amandatemple.com. Bermuda postcodes are occasionally rejected on the site, if that does happen 00000 works.

Amanda Temple