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Gelatin silver print
Provided by the artist - Juno Gemes
This was taken during the Masterclass Juno Gemes took with Lisette Model at her workshop Incontra Personale at The Venice Biennale devoted to Photography in 1978.
Peter Turner, editor of Creative Camera London, told me I must study with Lisette Model. He rang her up and got me into her Masterclass at very short notice.
We meet for coffee in the Piazza St Marco - "Of course" she said and got me into her Masterclass. The other nine photographers all came with a portfolio. I came with my little Leica. "You must produce a portfolio here" she said. We became good friends.
Every afternoon we would meet for coffee in the Piazza. "Tell me what do you see? Now tell me what that means to you?" she would ask as we walked together. I got up at 5am every morning to photograph a side of Venice that people usually don't see - the workers of Venice, street sweepers, fish markets, barbers, drying gals. On the last day of the workshop I presented my portfolio. She would encourage the class to comment on each body of work, then add a line or a question. To me she said "here we have a true photographer". That one sentence has sustained me for years. She asked me to stay on to assist her to photograph Venice. She was in her 70's and walked with a walking stick. My small son Orlando was staying with friends - I rang to see if this could be sustained for another 2 weeks.
"Mummy come home!" cried Orlando. I did go back to London. I have regretted that impossible decision many times - but there it is. I promised to visit her in NY but that didn't happen either. The memory of those conversations with Lisette in Piazza St Marco will be with me forever. She had a huge impact on my work.
[Pers. email - Juno Gemes to Alan Griffiths, 24 November 2011]