Years ago I visited an exhibit at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon called The Pool Project by photographer Courtney Milne . The Mendel Art Gallery is no longer open and Courtney died in 2010 but the memory of that exhibit has stayed with me.
The Pool Project was a series of photographs selected from the thousands Courtney Milne took of the swimming pool in his backyard over a period of ten years. A swimming pool sounds like a kind of mundane subject for photos but Milne’s were absolutely stunning!
In 1999 Milne was busy touring Canada for a new book but whenever he was home he would snap photos of the swimming pool in his backyard in various lights and seasons.
Once he started, he was intrigued that no matter when he looked out the window of his house at his pool it appeared different. Choosing his top ten photos of the year in 1999 he realized they were all of his swimming pool, even though he had photographed some pretty exotic places abroad, and thus the Pool Project began.
Milne took thousands more photos of his pool. It became a place of healing, empowerment, surprise and wisdom for him. Milne had been to some of the most famous places in the world to take pictures for his book Sacred Earth. He had traveled to Easter Island- the pyramids in Egypt- Machu Picchu- the Li River in China, but he found the greatest beauty and enlightenment simply by carefully observing the swimming pool in his own backyard.
What is in our own backyards to discover? Can we like Milne, find places of beauty and surprise just by sitting in our backyards or out on our balconies, walking in our neighbourhoods or exploring our home province?