Today we hung Emily Readers only remaining Blue Mountains photographs in a show at the NPWS Heritage Center at Blackheath. Govetts Leap Road to be accurate.
The show features her stunning panoramas of the Wolgan Valley and Kangangra Deep. Picking a favouite is almost too hard. The moon rise over Kangangra with its stunning blue hues stands out, as does a golden sunset on Dogface at Katoomba. I am also quite partial to a view over the Gross Valley, with Mount Banks in the background, which somehow we mislabeled as Kangangra. I have to laugh, we were both dyslexic. I was told to work off her ‘Key’ that was in the portfolio… Halfway through I found errors, and abandoned it in the end, the Key was probably to a different set of images.
I do love her valley shots with mist laying deep and still.
Each photograph in the show has been painstakingly reconstructed and reproduced. They are stunning.
The show will be open only for May and June 2019.
This exhibition is a tribute to her life. Something we discussed doing many times, yet for too many reasons was unachievable.
Not many talk about suicide. Yet we should. Em isn’t the first whom was very dear to my heart I have lost in this way. My family is riddled with them. Too many to count on one hand or list. Kat another in recent times, someone whom I also loved dearly. I haven’t heard a single person say she committed suicide. Why do we shun away from this harsh truth. To protect ourselves I suspect, but does this protect the others whom are considering self harm?
We need to talk about it.
Mental illnesses can be devastating. We spent many hours talking about it and her creativity. We tried to find solutions and creative ways to express her inner artist. I remember it being so strong in her when we first met. She was out with her camera at every opportunity. A commission by Wolgan Valley Resort saw her out for dawn shoots for months. She asked me to help her and to be a coauthor in the book, then later retracted the request. I was heartbroken.
Somehow I became a creative mentor, an outdoor companion and a very dear friend. Kasonde wanted to set us up as a couple as she thought we would be beautifully matched. That never happened, any meetings or passing’s awkward and short. I later became her assessor at TAFE. I was the gatekeeper for the Diploma in Outdoor Recreation in NSW. I designed the system based on questions and an interview as the primary means of evidence. The decision was easy, her skills, experience and knowledge far outstripped the many I had already accredited.
Her editing skills in photoshop were outstanding, yet her skills in managing her computer terrible. Her photographs weren’t backed up when all her photography equipment and computer were stolen.
Her father thinks this was one incident she never recovered from. Another was the unexpected loss of her mother, Kay.
At one stage we built a website of beautiful art works. Yet, for them to remain a viable back up one has to keep paying the yearly subscription. Can you imagine loosing all of your creative work?
In Em’s case, in the end she couldn’t find her peace or her creative mojo. Home became a trap of memories. She built the most amazing pottery studio, yet struggled to create in it. From her bed it stared at her, taunting her with possibilities, yet struck by inactivity and creative fear. Nowhere was peaceful. Medications deadened her soul. After a life full of the most amazing highs, and terrifying lows, steady was a boring flat line.
Em, was an amazing skier, flew paragliders, rode horses. Her pots were outstanding. An outdoor educator whom taught thousands of children the importance of community and a love for our environment. Blue Mountains Canyons were her backyard playground, visually, recreationaly and for inner peace.
We rarely talk about drug triggered psychosis. Marijuana was something she knew she should never return too. Yet, it would happen to easily. A couple of artists out the back while the kiln fired, or a lover whom was partial. Once she started she couldn’t stop until forced too by the inevitable psychosis that came.
I never did have to see her strapped to a bed, committed by police whom were probably out of their depth in dealing with her.
I always felt that it would end this way. Every time I saw her I sensed the spirallng downward. I always did everything I could to help. Talking, listening, planning.. But, it’s never enough is it. We try. We hope. Yet, we can’t fix someone else.
Em, you are missed. You are loved. You are an amazing inspirational person. We are all sorry you couldn’t feel that enough.
This show will be the only time you will see these beautiful art works. I urge you to visit.