A tale of unlocking our childhood imagination with a photo shoot at the Old Los Angeles Zoo including a video we made for ‘Rose Dover’ by Tori Amos.
When you look back on your childhood, what do you see? Do you remember the endless adventures to other worlds, fighting battles with mythical creatures or dining with royalty without ever leaving your own back garden? Did you have conversations with friends or beings that only you could see and the grown ups labelled them ‘imaginary’?
When I was a child, I lived a double life. I had a connection to a world that apparently only existed in my mind. The creatures I communicated with gave me the power of artistic expression and I would draw and paint and create images from my fantasy world. At my mum’s house now, I have boxes of books that are filled with my drawings and sketches from this world. Fantasy landscapes, dragons, monsters, mythical sea creatures and many more featured in my sketches. My mother always wondered how I came up with all these images, telling me I had a wild imagination.
At 16, my mate’s step father saw some of my work and was really impressed. What I found interesting in our conversations was the way he encouraged me. He never said “don’t give it up”, instead he told me “don’t stop letting them in”. He said, “Once you stop letting them in, you might be shutting them out for good and it’s important to hold on to the connection”. Of course at the time, that hidden key went right over my head. He said when he was my age, he would draw images similar to these but then he grew up and lost it all. I was an angry and confused teenager trying to fit in, so inevitably I shut them out and lost my edge. I locked my imagination and the muses in a dungeon and tried to become an adult. Boring!
I know what you’re thinking; this all sounds a bit ridiculous. At some point in our adolescence, we shut all those doors and scoff at the thoughts, calling them nonsense. Well that is the adult mind working. We go about our business one day to the next and forget that as children we saw the world as something spectacular and full of adventure, fantasy and mystery. Why do we have to throw that away? I still see the world that way. I love my job and my life of adventure, but I do love getting out into nature and imagining what this planet would be like before we took over, or if someone or something else with ‘intelligence’ took hold of the planet as we have.
For the Rose Dover project, I researched some abandoned places to explore in Los Angeles. I found quite a few places that I am looking forward to seeing, but the Old Los Angeles Zoo fit perfectly for what I was looking for. I really wanted a symbol of abandonment to represent abandoning our inhibitions and getting back in touch with our childhood imagination. The cages are not only an image of locking away our dreams and fantasies and holding them hostage, but also a reminder of what we do with the wonders of our world.
My dear friend Rebecca, lover of all things Disney, was excited by the idea to dress up and have fun with our imagination in the old zoo grounds. Rebecca was a rock star and unashamed to play while others in the park watched us. Thank you Bec!
I loved that there were families there also exploring the hiking trails and abandoned ruins of the Old Zoo. Packs of children were climbing all over the place and were carrying out adventures with each other. While we were filming, one child, who must have been no older than 7 or 8, climbed on top of the cage, stood tall and pounded on his chest. He then opened his arms wide, as if addressing a crowd of people below him and cried “there is no hope for humanity”. Was he re-enacting a movie scene I don’t know about? Was he acting out a scene from his imagination? Either way, it was confirmation that my project was on the right track and we were right where we were meant to be.
As you know, I am always inspired by the words and wisdom of Tori Amos. From her 2014 studio release of ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’ came a song called ‘Rose Dover’. The song talks about these very themes. I presume Tori is talking about her teenage daughter, watching as she moves into adulthood and reminding her that she does not need to throw away being a kid. This is an important song and it was the kick I needed to get back to letting my imagination run free so that I can be creative again.
She says “my reality was soon called
Make Believe, imagination’s funeral
Killed by the teenage me”
You don’t have to throw it away
Throw being a kid away
Just because you’re growing up
You don’t have to throw it all away
You don’t have to throw it all away
There’s a way
Take off your thinking cap and enjoy my video for ‘Rose Dover’ by Tori Amos, starring the fabulous Rebecca Davanzo frolicking around the grounds of the Abandoned Los Angeles Zoo. The video was filmed and edited entirely on my iPhone 6. Be sure to change the viewing settings to Full HD if viewing on a PC.
This video was made with love and respect for the song and for Tori. It is made out of the need to be creative and not for any gains or profit. I have photo shoots planned and video story boards set out for four more songs from ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’, each one more ambitious than the last, so feel free to subscribe to my page via email to stay tuned.
See my previous post here : Paint Her Back To Life – The Weatherman Project.
What were your childhood adventures? Tell me in the comments below.
Thanks for stopping by.
I like this song so much more now. 🙂