Tuesday, December 29, 2009


A piece of writing of mine published in SNAP! magazine (December/January/February 09-10). Click the image to enlarge and read.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tis the Season

A little post-Christmas retrospective. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Singular Movie

At one point during a single November day in 1962, George Falconer pulls up into a Los Angeles parking lot. In front of his car, a billboard advertising Psycho fills the entire screen with wide eyes. Throughout much of Tom Ford’s movie A Single Man, I sat wide-eyed myself, taking in the work of visual poetry.

The fashion designer and former head of Gucci brought his vision to the silver screen along with his instincts for sensuality and aesthetics. Adapting Christopher Isherwood’s eponymous novel, Ford has woven an extremely trim, almost seamless character sketch of George Falconer, sensitively and masterfully portrayed by Colin Firth. After eight months struggling with the loss of his love, Jim, George has decided that this day would be different: it will be his last. Unlike the despondency with which George has lived life in grief, the world begins to open up and reveal moments of beauty.

In those moments of beauty, of connection, the colours of the screen flared subtly, brightening a lipsticked smile, warming up a buxom rose. The film has been carefully written, sequenced and crafted – no line, no shot feels without value. I wanted to absorb every moment of the meticulously crafted and stylized day in 1962. The deliberate pacing, sometimes slow and dreamlike, played out like poetry and had me wrapped up in George’s world, his past, his present and his impending future. Ultimately, the film’s message is about our humanity, our engagement with sentiment, the fleeting nature of true connection.

While the message of the movie has universal appeal, Tom Ford has created a sensitive and subtle portrayal of the life of a gay man in the 1960s. Ford has quite loyally adapted Isherwood’s novel and extrapolated to create poignant personal moments between lovers, between old friends, between a professor and his student. Through excellent acting and rich, considered and poetic visuals, A Single Man transported me into sentiment and visual stimulation. It is a poignantly told story that captivates, intrigues and inspires.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mother's Comments for Mother's Edit

stefan has an eye.
he sees with his heart.
he is moved and feels emotion
which translates into what and how
he photographs.
when he went to italy to study
for his junior year abroad he
discovered italy with his camera.
he became aware of light, of composition.
his discovery has continued.
often when i see one of his photos
i wish i had taken it.
mother envy!
stefan often helps me edit my work and
brings an uncanny objective sensitivity
to the visual.
these photos from london are ones which
i found poignant and telling.
i thought they should be included in the
british blog. cheerio!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mother's Edit

My mom, Ewa Zebrowski, is a photographer (check out her website). She took a look through my photos of London/England and selected a bunch of photos that didn't make it up with my little written posts.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 8/9/10: Bath/London ... and back to Montreal

**This is a series of post that I am putting up from notebook entries during my trip to England in the first 10 days of December

The last few days involved a lot of travel from Oxford to Bath, from Bath to London. And from London back home.

Bath, the site of a beautiful Abbey and an excellently-preserved and presented Roman Baths, rubbed me the wrong way at first, seeming overly touristed and busy. But by the end of the day I had been charmed yet again by the Georgian architecture and vaulted ceilings. I even went for a swim in thermal baths housed in a converted Celtic place of ritual.

The best moment came when I was walking home from a delicious Thai dinner and wandered into a Carol Service full of students from the University of Bath at the Bath Abbey. The Abbey resounded with Christmas cheer. A nice surprise.

My last half day in London, I tied up loose ends by visiting the places I should have before but hadn't. The small yet elegant Serpentine presented their first ever design show in sparse style. And I sort of did a quick run around the British Museum, an empire-overloaded art complex complete with Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles.

By the end of the trip, I have to say I was a little knackered and ready to head home (shortly thereafter I fell ill with a headcold). But I had been duly enchanted. I am convinced that I would be thrilled to end up at the Courtauld Institute and in London for a Master's in Art History -- it only seems right given the Institute's shining reputation and the city's overwhelming amounts of art for free all over the place. An elegant city, a bustling metropolis, with an accented soundtrack I could listen to for days, London has won me over, it is fair to say. So it was so long for now, not forever, because I will surely be back.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 6/7: Back to Oxford

**This is a series of post that I am putting up from notebook entries during my trip to England in the first 10 days of December

Oxford. Yet another university name that comes loaded with baggage. Intimidating and inspirational it seems like Oxford has existed forever (since the 13th century) with most of the world's illustrious Brits coming from its almost 40 colleges. In a blustery and cold afternoon (complete with rain, of course), I joined a tour group and wandered the city and campus of Oxford, a dream of limestone, pitched windows and storied history.

Over the course of the walking tour, I established that I'm not so much for an endless rambling of facts as for inspirational moments and spaces. Highlights from the tour were definitely the all stone sculpture altar (from floor-to-ceiling, Jesus and apostles) set in an intentionally gloomy church at New College and later spotting a pheasant in the garden of New College. One college on campus, All Souls, admits no students at all - it acts more like an elusive think tank whose wine cellar is only rivaled by that of Buckingham Palace. Apparently to be a research fellow there, you have to submit to 6 three-hour exams on a variety of topics (from politics to economics to philosophy to art) and then submit to an interview at the hands of the entire professorship of the college. Talk about elusive.

On day 2, things were luckily much warmer and I took advantage by strolling the Christ Church Meadows. I saw grouse and magpies and geese and ducks and swans! Oh my! A nice way to start the day. I toured a few colleges and then climbed to the cupola of the Sheldonian Theatre where I feasted my eyes on Oxford's spires from above.

Later, I entered the Pitts-Rivers Museum - an anthropological and archaeological warehouse of a museum, chock-full of artifacts from musical instruments to shrunken heads to magical amulets. At the end of the day, before a plate of fish and chips, I got to feast my eyes on an exquisite ceiling of English Gothic style at the Divinity School.

All in all, I have to say that I was reasonably enchanted and still am a little mystified by Oxford.

Day 5: London

**This is a series of post that I am putting up from notebook entries during my trip to England in the first 10 days of December

Sunday was a quiet day, a slow morning, a late breakfast, walking through a deserted East London, having a Steak and Ale pie for lunch, trying to absorb the V&A Museum, smelling and experiencing London's oldest Romanesque church and then meeting up with Matilde one last time for drinks and dinner.

Why not just let the photos speak for the day?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 3/4: Oxford/London

**This is a series of post that I am putting up from notebook entries during my trip to England in the first 10 days of December

The last two days have been unusually sunny to begin with (today it is a dreary rainy Sunday and I am stalling to join the dampness).

I went to Oxford full of hope and expectations - excited to visit a place of storied past and overwhelming reputation. I passed the hills and plains outside London with horses and sheep grazing on frost-covered sunlit hillsides and even spotted a hovering hawk (always my personal omen of good things to come). While the campus of Oxford sent chills down my spine (I have a softspot for white- and yellow-toned stone), the tour of the art history department was disappointing lasting all of 5 minutes in some pseudo-modern (aka 1970s) construction. compared with the Courtauld, Oxford did not seem to hold a candle (although, not to discount from its teachings, Oxford does have a great reputation for being academically rigorous and first-rate).

I spent the rest of my time wandering around, touring the recently reopened Ashmolean museum, sampling cornish pasties and mince pies, and trying to get a sense of Oxford (when I stay there this coming week I'll have more of a chance to absorb it). Off I went back to London to visit the strange architectural funhouse which is the John Soane Museum and then spent the evening wandering a bit with my host, Brian, from pubs to supermarket and back home for dinner and a viewing of Russian Ark.

The following day was a beauty and I met up with Matilde and Katherine for a PSYL reunion. We strolled through the lovely Regent's Park, popped into a swanky gallery and over to a showing at Christie's. This was an experience, seeing the people examining the works and the people working the room. The Art! A sketch by Raphael estimated at sale of 12 million pounds (it sold for 29 million pounds) and a lovely painting/sketch by Puvis de Chavannes of his Boston Public Library Mural. I had such fun catching up with Matilde and Katherine, walking all around town, getting caught in the madness on Oxford Street, Piccadilly and Covent Gardens. It ended nicely sitting in the sparse St. Paul's Church listening to a rehearsal of that evening's Christmas concert.

And so now, a bit of walking with my brolly in the chill and rain of London - my final full day in the city of the trench coat and the umbrella.