The Hollywood Ravens.

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I first became aware of the extraordinariness of ravens while visiting a village of  America’s original inhabitants on Haida Gwaii Island, seventy miles off the coast of British Columbia. An elder explained that two families inhabited the island, the Eagles and the Ravens, both of which were richly represented in the island’s legends, art, and totems. Eagles had to marry ravens and vice-versa, so your parents would be one of each, and you would pick or be picked by, your bird family as you were growing up. My first thought was why wouldn’t everyone want to be an eagle? The next day my almost thirty-year long lesson in the extraordinariness of ravens began.

 

In the week after my father's death almost fifteen years ago, I had a very powerful dream in which he told me I’d when I'd the sun glinting off the Ravens' wings he'd be with me. He never knew about my allegiance to the Raven clan, but he flew blacked out bombers on night raids over Germany as a young man. I’ve long been convinced that spirits can ‘ride’ birds, so what better way for a life long lover of flight to both show his presence and get a birdseye view back into this dimension.

 

My take on the raven is diametrically opposed to Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase’s renowned book The Ravens. First published in 1986, it is proclaimed to be one of the most important books in the history of photography. Made in the aftermath of his divorce, its profoundly dark and ominous mood is interpreted as an allegory for the sadness of life in postwar Japan.  Like so much of humanity, he framed the raven as a symbol of hopelessness and despair.

 

It is a wholly unjust representation of the Ravens. Take the time to look and you’ll see they are like joyous dolphins, constantly socializing, playing and dancing in the sky. Their mischievous airmanship is second to none, and watching them prank the big red-tailed hawks here in the Hollywood Hills is an absolute delight. To those who can see, I say open your eyes and look beyond the color black. This series is a personal portrait of the spirit animal I am proud to stand with.

 

Photographed in the Hollywood Hills between December 2018 - January 2019 as my divorce was unfolding.

 © 2018 by Andrew Macpherson

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