It’s always a pleasure when the new Port magazine drops through our letterbox and the latest issue was no exception. But even by its own sky-high standards, one piece in particular jumped out as something very impressive. The Chateau de Bosc in the south of France was the aristocratic seat of the Toulouse-Lautrec family, and was home to Henri, the painter and printmaker who captured the wild world of 19th Century Paris with such flair.
It was where he spent his childhood summers, impetuously leading a gaggle of friends despite his disability, where he sketched the chateau’s staff on the stable walls and where he came back to die. Photographer Tobias Harvey and writers Tessa Nicholson and Huw Griffith have brought this strangely untouched world to life in one of those pieces that reaffirms your faith in the power of magazine articles. Tobias’ pictures are brilliant – poignant and illuminating without chasing heavy-handed metaphor – while the prose is both vivid and informative.
They visited Averyon in January and had to make the most of just four hours’ shooting-quality light per day. But the challenges Tobias faced were far outweighed by the experience of being there. “It was a complete treasure to discover – it is incredible that no governing body has come in and swept out the darkness and ghosts,” Tobias told us. “These places are so rare to find in our day and age, which is terribly sad, as I believe this sense of distant history, living amongst the dust, is so intrinsic to the culture of a country – a sort of metaphysical wilderness of the heart, an infinite space where we have contact with history and the inheritance of human spirit.”
Although he had the choice between shooting de Bosc on film or digital, Tobias opted for the former. “I have a Phase One back for my Hasselblad, but it always gets left in its case: film is so instinctive, it has a rhythm and a gut feeling, it penetrates the shadows like a very soft and sympathetic blade. Digital just cannot deal with the darkness, it fails to expose the light in a living manner,” he says.
Check out some of the photos here, but we strongly recommend you get your hands on a copy yourself – you can buy it here.