Garden of the Gods
Photographer, Freeman Patterson finds joy and healing in his garden in Shamper’s Bluff, New Brunswick and in Namaqualand, South Africa.
|Summary:||According to world-renowned Canadian photographer, Freeman Patterson "gardening is an act of creation and the primary responsibility of our lives is to be creative". Wherever he roams Patterson combines his love for gardening with his passion for photography. As we travel from Shamper’s Bluff, the beautiful river valley he calls home, to a wildflower reserve in Namaqualand, South Africa, where he regularly teaches photography seminars, we are invited to observe the beauty of nature which has brought joy and healing to Freeman’s life.|
|Garden Contact Information:||Kim Nickerson
Shampers Cove Limited
3487 Route 845
Long Reach, NB
Canada E5S 1X4
|The Garden:||Shamper’s Bluff is a high, forested, rocky peninsula that juts into Belleisle Bay in New Brunswick’s lower St. John River Valley. It is 500 acres (200 hectares) in size and about half the Bluff is now a private ecological reserve belonging to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The reserve is Freeman’s home as he donated most of the land to the Conservancy in return for life tenancy.
253 species of plants, flocks of migratory and non-migratory birds, and mammals such as hares, foxes, field mice, coyotes, flying squirrels, deer and occasionally moose and bear can be found on Shamper’s Bluff. One will also see toads, frogs, salamanders, garter snakes, fish, and insects to numerous to count. These species have aboriginal claim, here long before Freeman or any other of the 40 or so human residents. In a circle, about 25 acres (ten hectares) around his house Freeman has the privilege of engaging with the land in a restricted but active way. Near his house he is able to mix the wild and domestic with abandon: annual and perennial plants overflowing in flower beds, spirea, wild rhododendrons, blueberry bushes, native ox-eye daisies and red poppies of Tuscany, Israel, and Flanders, broad leaved hostas, wild apple and birch trees, perky blue forget-me-nots, hay-scented ferns. Depending on which way one looks from his house in mid-June to mid-August, one can see one lupin blossom, or 2 million.
|The Gardeners' Story:|| “Gardening gives one the opportunity to work with beauty. You’re giving yourself the gift of beautiful things, which can only be positive. We don’t appreciate beauty unless there’s some effort for it. The act of creating something, however small, is a positive act, and is psychologically and spiritually positive.” – Freeman Patterson
Freeman Patterson lives at Shamper’s Bluff, New Brunswick, near his childhood home. He attended multi-grade (one-room) schools in Grey’s Mills and Long Reach, and high school at Macdonald Consolidated School in Kingston. He graduated with a B.A. (Honours: Philosophy) from Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in 1959. The subject of his honour’s thesis was The Form of The Good in Plato’s Republic. In 1962 he received a Master of Divinity degree (M. Div.) from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, New York. His master’s thesis was Still Photography as a Medium of Religious Expression. While in New York, Freeman studied photography and visual design privately with Dr. Helen Manzer.
From 1962 to 1965 Freeman was dean of religious studies at Alberta College, Edmonton, and began actively to work in photography. He moved to Toronto in 1966 to work for one year at Berkeley Studio, the United Church of Canada still photography and film production house. During this time and until the late 1970’s, Freeman completed numerous assignments across Canada for the Still Photography Division of the National Film Board of Canada. He also developed a large roster of professional clients in the editorial and advertising fields. Freeman has always been a strong supporter of the amateur photography community, and is a life member and former president of The Toronto Guild for Colour Photography.
Freeman returned to New Brunswick in 1973 primarily in order to pursue his personal artistic interests and to establish a workshop of photography and visual design. Since then he has taught several week-long classes every year and, commencing in 1984, in southern Africa as well, where he co-founded the Namaqualand Photographic Workshops. He has given numerous workshops in the United States, Israel, New Zealand and Australia.
Although Freeman does much of his photographic work at home, he travels widely to photograph and to teach. Since 1973 he has frequently presented half-day and all-day seminars to large groups (50 to 4000 persons) in the visual arts, music, education, and ecology across Canada, the United States, and in other countries. Since 1977 he has written and illustrated four instructional books on photography and visual design and has co-authored a fifth, four large cloth-edition books, and co-authored and illustrated two more. In 1996 he completed a CD-ROM entitled Creating Pictures: A Visual Design Workshop and a major retrospective book of text and photographs, entitled ShadowLight: A Photographer’s Life for Harper Collins of Canada which was followed in 1998 by Odysseys: Meditations and Thoughts For A Life’s Journey and in 2003 by The Garden. Freeman has written for various magazines, CBC radio, and been featured on CBC television’s Man Alive, Sunday Arts And Entertainment and Adrienne Clarkson Presents.
Freeman began teaching photography and visual design in the early 1960’s, primarily to small groups. His knowledge and presentation skills soon attracted notice, and by the early 1970’s the demand for his instructional programs enabled him (with a teaching partner and staff) to establish a workshop program at Shampers Bluff. Eight ten-day courses were offered the first year, and all of them sold out (15 persons per course). He continued the program at Shampers Bluff for five years, then shifted its location to Grand Manan, later to Gagetown, and back to Shampers Bluff again in 1990. From the beginning participants came from all over North America, and from Europe, Africa, and Australia. In recent years the number of photographers from the Maritime provinces attending these courses has increased substantially.
Freeman made several visits to Africa between 1967 and 1983, three of them at the request of the Photographic Society of Southern Africa. As a result of these contacts and others, he co-founded (with Colla Swart) the Namaqualand Photographic Workshops in 1984, and travels to the desert village of Kamieskroon once or twice every year to teach three or four week-long workshops. This project has expanded so rapidly that Freeman now works with several other instructors and no longer participates in every program. Freeman has also given numerous, week-long workshops in the United States, New Zealand, and Israel and has completed lecture tours in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.
In addition to the above, every year from 1973 to the present Freeman has received a large number of invitations to give teaching programs or all-day seminars to photographic groups, art institutions, and other educational groups and bodies. A very short list of those he has accepted includes invitations from the National Ballet of Canada school, the Music Teachers of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Society of Art Educators, the Science Teachers of Ontario Association, the Canadian Nature Federation, the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), the University of Utah, the Maine Photographic Workshops, Images Alberta, the National Association For Photographic Art, the Photographic Society of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, and the Photographic Society of Southern Africa.
From 1973 to 1989, Freeman was an elected trustee of New Brunswick School District #19, served for eight years as vice-president and director of Masterfile (a major stock photography agency), two years on the board of Aids Saint John, and six years as a trustee of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. He has donated his property on Shamper’s Bluff to the conservancy for an ecological reserve and education area.
Freeman received the Gold Medal for Excellence in Photography from the National Film Board of Canada in 1967. In 1980, he was made a Fellow of the Photographic Society of America and in 1985, Freeman was awarded the Order of Canada. In 2001, Freeman received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the North American Nature Photography Association.
|Behind the Scenes:|| Executive Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Director: Gwynne Basen
Writer: E. Anne Dawson
Narration Writers: Brad Caslor & Robert Lower
Narrator: Bonnie Dickie
Director of Photography: Wade Cornell, CSC
Still Photography: Freeman Patterson & Andre Gallant
Editor: Brad Caslor
Composer: Michael Plowman
Length: 30 minutes