Clare Samuel to name her favourite image in the Uncharted Waters exhibition

It’s hard to say which image is my “favourite” ( I don’t want to make the other photos jealous), but one that I’m particularly fond of is Manuel (Lighthouse Keeper). It’s partly because of the photograph itself – his expression, the colours of the water and his eyes, and so on. But I also like the idea of the “lighthouse keeper.” It makes me think of Virginia Woolf’s writing; of great tidal waves of time, and mists that make you forget who you are. And, through all of that, there’s some point of reference, something to hold onto – a light, and the lonely keeper of that light.

Of course, this particular lighthouse no longer fulfills that function, and Manuel looks after it on a voluntary basis. But that doesn’t make it any less magical to me. The day I took that image was also pretty special. Manuel picked me up at the harbour in his awesome ex-lifeboat, which made me feel like a rock star as I waved goodbye to my previous subject, a member of the Disabled Sailing Association. Then Manuel gave me an amazing tour of the island, the lighthouse, his studio at Gibraltar Point and served me delicious coffee at his family’s art-filled house. After that, I had a spontaneous dinner with some other islanders, who were just as warm and welcoming.  A lovely evening was perfected by the incredible view across the lake as I headed home. This was the first time I’d been on the island as darkness fell. Ridiculous I know, but I’m not from Toronto and making up for lost time now. The city was glittering between the sky and the water like a mad psychedelic jewel. No, hallucinogens had not been served at the meal, but the sight was almost absurd in its beauty. A thousand lighthouses on overdrive.