OK, so I know it’s just not possible for me to flee the country and arrive in Arkansas in time for the opening on April 8th of A House of Light exhibition, in the Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock. But I can always dream.
The exhibition features the largest existing collection of Arkansas Delta photography. 80 original works from the archive of floating photographers Hugo and Gayne Preller, whose work spanned more than half a century, from 1895 to 1950. This unconventional couple sailed down the Mississippi River in their floating portrait studio, creating a visual history of the delta community, which has been preserved and curated by Chris Engholm and Gayne Preller. You can hear Chris talking about the journey from discovery to exhibition HERE.
I don’t quite remember how I first came across the ‘floating photographers,’ but when I did I knew they would have to be part of my novel – Sometimes a River Song. Their photographs inspired me, as did the idea of a photographic studio sailing down the river. My later correspondence with Chris proved generous and encouraging.
I hope very much I’ve done the Prellers justice. I wish the exhibition every success and a great opening night – read more about it HERE.
I call out, ‘Morning, I hope I ain’t disturbing you none.’
She stop washing pots, stand up tall and look out at me on the bank. The man act like he ain’t heard.
‘I am wondering if you might take my photograph? I got money with me.’
She nod, dry her hands on her apron, ‘Come aboard.’ I step up onto the long plank, from riverbank to boat. She lift a curtain at the door and show me the way through. Is a small room. Got a chair and the camera all set up, cotton sheet pinned on the wood, blue curtain across the window, sun shining at its back.
‘Sit there, child, and rest your hands in your lap.’
Is peaceful, boat shift in the tide, spill water rising. Specks of dust floating like silk in the air.
Sometimes a River Song – pub April 27th Linen Press