"I was given some very good advice before arriving in Venice: ‘Arrive, wander through the city, and absorb it all before doing any photography.’
For three days I wandered through this semi-ethereal, fantasy city. There is an aesthetic uniformity to the entire city that I do not believe exists elsewhere in the world (except perhaps for Havana in Cuba), and into all of this I was dropped as if by parachute with my camera.
Since that first step from the vaporetto into the city, I, like many millions of others, have become entranced by Venice. But it remains one of the most difficult places in the world for me to make images. It seems inappropriate and impossible to make literal images of Venice when much of the city is romantic and illusory.
Within a day or two I had realised that the predominant shape throughout Venice was the arc. Four hundred and ten bridges, countless gondolas, the rims of the straw boaters, and the church domes and, duplicated in reflection, the arc epitomised by the great double bend of the Grand Canal all told me that this glorious city of Venice was about roundness.
I had seen this gondola tied up near the bridge a few times as I returned to my lodgings. It never seemed to be in quite the right place to establish an interlocking of shapes. I loaded black and white film into the film back, set up the camera and tripod and waited. With an echoing bellow from the bargee, a barge laden with the brilliant colours of tomatoes and oranges came swerving round the corner and passed my gondola, pushing its nose to position almost under the bridge with its passing. For one lovely luxurious minute I could wait until the elaborate and proud prow would quietly drift backwards and, at the given moment, when the bridge and prow quietly interlocked, I depressed the shutter.
A second later, the relationship had disintegrated, and with a broad grin on my face, I packed up to leave for the strange spotty cows and vivid green fields of England. The whole thing had been really rather lovely."
Film Agfapan 25 ASA
Camera Hasselblad 6cmx6cm
Exposure Not recorded
Filters Darkroom toning/bleaching