(This was in my inbox this morning from a true E
nglish Iteland Gentleman and I felt it was to share. )
He’s back. No. I don’t mean Santa. I mean Ian Morris, a chalk artist on Government Street in Victoria since 2004.He often has to sleep in the doorway in this photograph and supports himself from donations from passers by, and the food banks. Last year I photographed him reproducing one of Raphael’s paintings in Florence. This year he has copied another Raphael.
Ian was one of the premier artists featured in the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival this year as well as last.
Ian parents were from Liverpool. His father was at primary school with John Lennon. To visit Liverpool one day is at the top of Ian’s wish list.
Ian said that 2013 has been a good year for him. Tourists on Government Street, on their way to China Town, have been generous.
He said that he drew this year’s Raphael as a ‘thank you’ to the citizenry in Victoria. And to remind passers by - what he called ‘ the frenzied shoppers’ – on one of the city’s major shopping streets, of the core meaning of the Season and on the abiding scandal of the numerous homeless on the streets in this capital city, in this rich Province, in this rich country, for whom there is still ‘no room at the inn’ : especially for the indigenous peoples. Ian feels strongly about the plight of the indigenous peoples in Canada. To him it’s a festering scandal.
Ian was insistent that I give money to neighbouring artists further along the street. He helps them from his meager resources, because they are destitute Inuit from Iqaluit, in Nunavut. Ian said that they have little money and addiction problems. They also don’t have a license to ‘ busk’ and sell their small stone carvings, so they are at risk of being moved along by City bylaw enforcement and of being fined for busking without the necessary permits.
( I am sending a separate email about the Inuit buskers near Ian. And here it is)
Here was Ian, homeless, hardly making a living himself, but most concerned – really very concerned – about the less fortunate : busking a few yards away from him, even though they were likely impacting the level of donations coming his way from passers by who might otherwise drop money in his hat. He didn’t want me to put any money in his hat, directing me instead to the Inuit.
Doesn’t it seem sometimes that only the poor are really generous ?
I can learn much from Victoria’s homeless premium chalk artist. Can’t we all ?
Wishing you all that you wish yourselves, and all your loved ones, at Christmas and in 2014.
Here are the Inuit stone carvers that Ian, the chalk artist, asked me to help. They were from Iqaluit, in Nunavut, carving and selling little soapstone ‘inukshuks’ – an Inuit word meaning ‘in the image of man’ : stone figures built to resemble humans. Inukshuks can be found along Canada’s northern shores from Baffin Island to Victoria Island. Originally built as landmarks to aid in navigation and to assist in caribou hunting, the inukshuks have been adopted as a symbol to remind us of our dependence on each other and the value of strong relationships. Nunavut is the largest and most northern Canadian Territory and has incorporated an inukshuk on its Territorial flag.The Inuit were formerly referred to as Eskimos.One of the Inuit trio carvers was clearly disturbed. His loud mutterings to himself did not aid the cause. People hurried by not stopping to put anything in their hat. They had been carving for hours, they said, and had sold a few inukshuks, enough to buy themselves supper at McDonalds.”
Photography by Kevin Doyle
A follow up comment to the Photographer
People talk of the lazy ‘Indians’. But look at this Inuit. He took hours to carve this from the soapstone square ( seen in my first photograph), with a file – yet sold these for only $5. Would I work so hard for hours for so little ? And would I even have the skill ? No.