Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, now living in Dominica, W.I., founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Archive for July, 2012

Montserrat – another photo-shoot trip to the Caribbean

Just landing in Montserrat

Hello again, it’s time to share with you more details of our recent trip to Montserrat island in the Caribbean, and our work there.

As you may know, until the deadly volcano eruption in 1995, Montserrat enjoyed elite tourism, it was the place the world’s most successful music was born (Beatles, Police, Ultravox, Elton John, and many other top musicians recorded their albums there in Montserrat, at Sir George Martin’s Air Studios.) All that ended with the fateful eruption, when the volcano completely destroyed Montserrat’s capital and about 1/3of the whole island.  (I have some fine photos from that capital, now branded with the name New Pompeii. The Volcano Observatory staff helped us with a tour through  the “no go zone”.)

Montserrat – view towards volcano

Now the government of the tiny Montserrat has started intensive works to build a whole new capital city in a different part of island – in the Little Bay and Carr’s Bay area, which will include a fine marina and marina repair facilities, a posh hotel and spa, luxury residential complex of villas, a fishermen wharf,  local market, museum, city hall, court house, cruise ship terminal, you name it.  All that, with full respect for local nature, eco-system, and with local residents in mind. The project is HUGE, and it’s mind blowing to think the whole new city with all its extra amenities will be built all at once, using modern eco-friendly technologies. It will be a city like no other. Beautifully designed as a totality, a whole seamless unit, modern and elegant – a real magnet for tourism, investors, artists, and so on.
To make it happen, this enormous project has to be coordinated with a new fast ferry, expanded flight services, new supply lines, and other things like that.  It all has to be well timed – otherwise it could end in a fiasco.

View at the Caribbean Sea and lush hills of Montserrat.

To develop, supervise and coordinate this tremendous project, Montserrat government has hired John Cox, who used to overlook ALL  British overseas territories’ developments. He has a vast experience in such huge-scale projects. He has worked all over the world, in countries like Pakistan, in Africa, and in the Caribbean as well.  In recent years he’s been working independently, and now devotes his passion and skills to the Caribbean region.

Street BBQ

We’ve seen plans and drafts, we heard with how much enthusiasm he speaks about it, and how much trust people have in him  –  be it the British Governor, Montserrat Government officials, opposition party, or just the regular guys in the street. His assistant – a modest and beautiful Japanese girl,  Atsumi Kani – an architect who originally came to Montserrat 13 years ago as a UN volunteer and decided to stay – helps him at every step along the way. The whole team is truly dynamic, and we look forward to watching their miracle unfold.

Shore on Atlantic side of Montserrat.

So, what did we actually do there? Our job was to take photographs worthy making the best publications and brochures. Photographs that will make people look closer at this project, and decide to join it. Montserrat Development Corporation  (MDC)  is seeking serious investors who will be partners in this unusual adventure – people who enjoy breaking new grounds and want to share this vision for the new and unique Montserrat. A fantastic, modern architectural draft of the new city includes many luxury villas ready to buy, a hotel in need of investors, and other such exciting opportunities. A proposal is just being created, and our photographs will be part of it.

Returning by boat from photographing Rendezvous Bay, beautiful sandy beach in north of Montserrat.

We are truly happy our photos will assist this fantastic project go ahead, and we’re glad our humble advice as to designing and printing promotional materials will help improve their overall quality.
We’ve tried to capture the beauty of this tiny island, its fine and friendly people, sandy beaches, nature, and of course the volcano in its present state – an additional attraction not possible to see on most other tropical islands.

Iguana on the lawn of our guest house.

During our short stay another idea was born – a fine hardcover book documenting the whole process,  the rebirth of Montserrat – a true Phoenix out of the ashes! Such a book can be a very important part of Montserrat’s recorded history, an eye-opener for many visitors, and a reminder of the struggle of Montserrat’s brave, tiny nation – the hard period of devastation, followed by the remarkable desire to restore the island’s life and move forward. A book perhaps of generous size, similar to our Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean – elegant, yet powerful chronicle of this epic journey.
Keeping this idea in mind, we also did some documentary photographs from the destruction zone, and we experienced the eerie feel that stays with this “New Pompeii” right up to the present day.  As you place your first step on the ground covered deep with volcanic ash – you turn silent…just trying to comprehend what really happened there those 15 years ago…

Plymouth is covered with ash, mud and lava rocks, up to the second floor level. You can see volcano still fuming with sulfur-smelling gas…

The moment of destruction is registered at every step, like frozen in time. Personal belongings scattered  in panic and visible through broken windows of houses half-buried in lava, mud and ash… offices hurriedly left in the middle of work…  pages of musical scores dropped on the floor of a shattered church – perhaps left behind by members of an evacuated choir… – All these things tell a gloomy, painful story not to be forgotten in Montserrat.

Abandoned church in Plymouth is covered with volcanic ash.

Thankfully, now the volcano is under strict observation by the world’s best scientists, and danger zones are clearly drawn – in case of the volcano’s repeat activity.
Everyday life is back to normal in the northern part of Montserrat –  the lush, green hills which are safe from danger.

Classroom in Plymouth filled with ash up to the chalkboard level.

This was one remarkable trip!  We’ve made new friends, learned a lot – and we look forward to continuing working with the whole team for years to come.
Hopefully these few photographs can give you a glimpse of this fine, unique Caribbean island and its brave nation. But – as we experienced – nothing beats the real thing. So if you feel like having some adventure, pack your bags and go for a Montserrat vacation, see for yourself how much this tiny island has to offer.

Pair of Green Turtles mating in pristine Atlantic waters near the shore.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

And as always – if you find this little story interesting – click SHARE, let your friends enjoy it too.



PS.  Images are copyright of Ozone Zone Books, Canada and Derek Galon. Please respect that.


Ozone Zone Books on C-FAX radio talk show. Book giveaway.

Hello again, just sharing good news.
We were guests on air yesterday, talking about our award-winning book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean. It was fun and interesting talk show by Jeff de Jong, celebrated gardening expert on C-Fax radio here in Victoria, Canada. Because C-Fax is an AM station, it was aired in much of Canada and Northwest of USA.
To celebrate this nice surprise, we will be giving away a copy of this fine book getting 5-star reviews on Amazon. One copy went yesterday to a lucky listener – and another one will be given away here, on our blog!

But if you wish to get it, please be patient. We are now preparing and packing for our next photo trip – this time to the tiny Montserrat island!
It has active volcano, and I hope to do some interesting photographs to share with you soon. Back in two weeks!

We will share our travel stories in one of our next postings.
So, please follow us, and add your comment to our NEXT post. Your comment on our NEXT post will be your entry to win our giveaway FREE copy of
Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean – our thick, beautifully printed coffee table book available globally in better book stores and on Amazon international sites.

Thank you for stopping by, and don’t forget to Follow Us.
And, if you like this idea, SHARE it with friends.

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Abkhazi Garden – The Garden of Love. (Victoria, Canada)

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When we arrived at the entrance to Abkhazi Garden, we both stopped for a moment as if afraid to open the gate. The reason for our hesitation was clear enough for us: we wondered – is this garden still as beautiful as we remembered? Or perhaps it is now totally changed, or has fallen  into neglect? We had visited Abkhazi garden several times after it was saved from the developers. Our humble donation was only a tiny drop in an immensely successful and quite heroic public fund-raising campaign in 2000, which led to the acquisition of the garden by The Land Conservancy.

Unique benches look like they always been there as an important part of this garden.

Slowly, we stepped into the garden leaving the city street behind us. We found ourselves in a woodland, under towering old rhododendrons and native Garry Oaks underplanted with lush ferns and hostas. As we were slowly walking a winding path through the garden, all our fears completely disappeared. We noticed how splendid the garden looks, cared for not only with expertise and knowledge but also with love.

Beautifully created, this spot brings to mind large vase full of freshly cut flowers.

Love and passion are ever-present here, making it quite a magical place. It is “the garden that love built,” love between its creators: Peggy and Nickolas Abkhazi who shared the same passion for their new piece of paradise, a safe haven in their rather dramatic lives. After their death, it seems like that love was carried on by all the people whose hard work and dedication enable the garden to flourish.  One of the first were Christopher and Pamela Ball who continued to keep up this world-class garden for the next 10 years.

Fine bird bath at the first wide vista near entrance instantly adds to happy feel of the place.

When the land was submitted for rezoning, Cyril Hume, a garden historian led the fund-raising campaign and the garden restoration. All the head gardeners who came after him shared the same passion and devotion to the project. Today, the garden is in the capable hands of Jeff de Jong and a group of impressively skillful  volunteers. As a result, Abkhazi Garden is resplendently beautiful.

Jeff de Jong talks about the garden

“For me, gardening is a work of joy,” says Jeff. “What you love doing – it’s not work. It is for me a privilege and honour to take care of Abkhazi garden. Peggy and Nickolas are always on my mind. I ask myself: is it something that they would approve of? I recently planted Magnolia grandiflora knowing that Peggy loved it and had it in this garden. In order to honour the Abkhazis I thought it was the important plant to have. In this garden the challenge for me is to preserve its sense of history, and yet still progress and move forward.”

Ponds look like colorful jewels mounted in greenery of the garden.

We finished our garden tour inside Abkhazi house, built by John Wade in the style of simple modernism. Broad glass windows offer spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, while connecting the interior to the exterior spaces. Perhaps the most striking feature of the house is that organic flow with the surrounding landscape, perfected in architectural designs of the tropics. 

While working on our book ”Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”, we were often fascinated by architects who mastered this skill of seamless integration of outside and inside spaces, like Oliver Messel, or Lane Pettigrew. Standing on a stone-paved patio, we marvelled at the brilliant layout of the garden complementing the natural landscape.

Peggy’s wish was that the garden was going to be seen by the next generation” comments  Jeff.  “Thanks to the Land Conservancy, it’s going to be seen by even more generations to come.”

Story by Margaret Gajek
Photography by Derek Galon

Another view at the ponds, where on a sunny day you can spot sun bathing turtles…

Thank you for stopping by. If you like this post – please click SHARE button or other media button you use.
Until next time, cheers!


A Festive Cirque du Soleil – Style Shoot…

Those who know me better may remember that sometimes – to get away from garden or architecture photography – I shoot art oriented images with various models. I rarely post here comments from such shoots (if you want me to do so, please write so in comment box below!).

However, this time I had such a response  to my last shoot from fellow photographers and models, that I decided to share this session with you. I am fascinated with perfection in performance. I admire dream-like setups and decorations. I enjoy fine music of top stage performances. And – I find it all in Cirque du Soleil. Yes, I guess I can be called real fan of them. I do have several DVDs with their performances, and I was lucky to see them live on couple of occasions. Amazing! Pure magic! Perhaps they are the best thing Canada has to offer.
So – when a friend and a talented make-up artist Alecia Repp from Vancouver asked me to shoot a happy, Cirque du Soleil – inspired series, I was immediately attracted to it.
She is working on expanding her impressive portfolio, and this shoot has had a special importance to her. Whatever are her ambitious plans about it – it is not up to me to say. Anyway, this supposed to be a Cirque-inspired, but surely not copying it but kind of impressions through her own eyes of imagination.

We all prepared for it on a very short notice, but it was clearly a “lucky shoot”. We quickly found perfect models – Daniel Corbet and Robyn Pasutti-Chari.  Alecia found at last minute a talented hair stylist – Sofia Pastro.
And I was very happy to have lighting assistance from a photographer I admire for long time, Mr. Jon Hoadley.
Jon’s images have that special “aura”, they touch me deeply. I considered working with him was a treat, and I knew it will help our project a lot.

The shoot went very smooth and was so much fun. I usually don’t care much if a shoot is “fun” or not. What is important to me – is the quality of work.
But from the beginning it was clear that quality of this one will be great, and we had that ” comfort buffer”, that feel that all goes our way – which gave us all an extra sparkle and spinned our imagination to do more.

I felt like transferred into Varekai, Corteo, or La Nouba – all in one package. Talent of our models did put Alecia’s characters into a vivid life.  Flame clown (Daniel) had such self-control of movements and expressions that it really felt like photographing one of the Cirque artists. Robyn, with her shocking, pink hair balanced Daniel’s performance well, creating a Crazy Butterfly person. Together they created a colorful, dazzling duo, and I still feel magic of that afternoon.
As I expected, Jon helped enormously with background lighting, creating the whole mood of the shoot. constantly changing patterns, colours – he simply added another dimension to the whole shoot.

A floating trick, really fine performance…

So, here we are – with a bunch of amazingly vibrant, colorful photographs. A week ago I did not even expect I will shoot this, and now it looks like one of the best model shoots I’ve had pleasure to do.
I need to thank here all people involved. It was such creative fun, and it is such a joy to see ready images. I will add them to my art print selection available for sale and to my limited editions. I think – they deserve that.

Today I am shooting another fine garden, so – stay tuned for our next post, it is coming very soon.

I thought you may enjoy this totally unrelated to gardens or architecture post – for the colours and its festive, happy feel.
Thanks again all,  live long Cirque du Soleil!

Until next time!

As always, if you like it – please click Share.
you can view some of my other works at my web site

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