Friday, August 26, 2011

Ada Cambridge & the Holy Trinity Vicarage

"Life is a tapestry: We are the warp; angels, the weft; God, the weaver. Only the Weaver sees the whole design." ~The Angels' Little Instruction Book, Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Over the past few weeks I have been busily processing images from a photoshoot I did earlier this month in Williamstown. It's the first time I've picked up my camera in almost a year. There's a beautiful old two-story building that sits beside the historic bluestone Holy Trinity Anglican Church on the foreshore there, and whilst I'd been vaguely aware of it's presence for a long time, it only really came to my attention back in June, when on one particular, very cold and wintery night, I found myself jumping in the car and taking a spontaneous drive across the city, and then found myself standing on the footpath, staring in awe at this beautiful building, bathed in full moonlight - wondering who might live there, or indeed, if anyone did, and whether they might be open to letting me photograph it.

It was one of those very special nights that had an almost magical quality about it. One of those nights that stick with you, long after they have passed. There have been so many such magical experiences over the past months. I've been offline, pretty much since last October, apart from a few tweets earlier this year. My last tweet was sent on 15 June, the very night I was in Williamstown. I was standing on the pier, looking out over the bay, towards the city. Docked at the pier is the old war ship HMAS Castlemaine. My last tweet said "i read somewhere once that the old Castlemaine is supposedly haunted. i shouldn't be surprised." What I didn't tell twitter was that within moments of sending that tweet, there came the very loud and very obvious noise of chain movement from the back of the ship. Not the kind of movement that comes with a rocking boat - the kind that comes from someone deliberately causing chains to move. It was a very still night, the water was like glass, not a breath of wind. Not another soul to be seen on the pier at 11:00pm on a Wednesday night. Yikes - it was a little eerie, and I freaked out and took off! I stood on the foreshore, looking back at the ship in the darkness for ages. And wondered. I walked back past the old boathouses, towards where I'd parked the car beside the vicarage. As I crossed the road and walked under the street lamp on the corner, it suddenly and violently flickered, went very dull, and came up bright again. It was pretty cool. I suspect that someone was merely trying to validate my tweet, not scare me! And I kicked myself for taking off the way I did. :)

'Memorial Stone laid by the Rev R H Dirkheld (?) on 27 March 1886'

I went back again, two nights later, half expecting to see a ghostly face staring back at me through the portholes. But alas, nothing this time - not a peep. Two days later I was back and talking to one of the volunteers from the ship (it's a tourist site now). He said that a film crew had been there 3 or 4 months before, trying to ascertain whether or not the ship was haunted. He didn't know the outcome of their experiences, but I'm certainly curious.

Anyways, that's where my connection with the Holy Trinity Vicarage began, or at least, so I thought at the time. But since doing the photoshoot on 5 August, many peculiar things have come to light, and I now absolutely believe that this shoot was meant to happen - looking back, there were so many signs and synchronicities, long before that night. As I stood there looking at that house in the moonlight, I just knew I hadn't end up there by chance.

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~Steve Jobs

I called the Church two days later, and went to see them the next day. I wanted merely to take a few shots, purely for the love of the architecture. So I asked the question, and left them to consider it. The wardens needed to be consulted first.

A month went by and I didn't hear anything. I assumed the answer would be no. Then, an email arrived, giving me permission to do the shoot. Oddly though, I was very surprised to see that it was dated 21 July. It didn't appear in my inbox until the 29th. Which would have meant that either I didn't check my emails for a whole eight days (pretty sure that didn't happen), or I simply missed it in my inbox - but with the subject heading ' taking photographs at Holy trinity, Williamstown', I'm pretty sure that didn't happen either. Call me crazy, but I do believe that the email was deliberately withheld from arriving - ah yep, I'm actually gonna say this - by one of my wonderful spirit friends (I channel, btw, and it wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened - they like to make their presence known!), because other things needed to fall into place first. It was a particularly significant week for me, and if that is really what happened, I got the message, guys. :)

The little dragonfly that made an appearance at the beginning of the shoot, is very significant too. I wasn't sure if it was alive or dead - looked to be very much alive, but it didn't move. I was there for about 4 & a half hours, wandering around with the camera. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in wanting to race home and see how my shots turned out, that I never thought to go back and check if it was still there by the time I was ready to leave.

When I met with Wilma initially, she told me that a poet and author by the name of Ada Cambridge had lived there with her husband Rev George Frederick Cross, at one point. I hadn't heard of Ada at the time. But since doing this shoot, the life of Ada and the history of the vicarage have captured my imagination. I've discovered that Ada has at least one grandson, whom I am very keen to try and make contact with. So many of the things I am deeply passionate about are entwined in this project - spirituality, metaphysics, history, heritage, antiquities, nature, the mysteries of the long forgotten past. To a large extent, Ada was living my dream life. It has been incredibly rewarding - both spiritually and artistically, and has come to mean so much more than I'd ever expected it to. To quote Wilma, "Your project is a bit like Topsy - it just continues to grow".  Three weeks of solid work, 84 individually edited images, and one very long blog post later... :)

A big thanks to Rev Bill Beagly and Judy Whelan (Parish Secretary), and a special thank you to Wilma Robarts and the other wardens, who made this collection possible. No bulk processing was done on this series (until I needed to downsize the finished artworks for the website, which I did in Lightroom). One by one, they made their way through Camera Raw and into Photoshop for editing. A huge thank you too, to Kim Klassen for the use of her beautiful textures. Kim so generously creates these gorgeous textures and both sells and gives them away for free on her blog. I'd been collecting them for some time, and I used a combination of eight of her textures exclusively on this collection. Should there be any sales of artworks (prints and canvases + possible cards, calendars etc to come in due course), all profits will go towards the upcoming renovation works of the vicarage. I like to think of this as my way of paying forward Kim's abundant generosity.

The full collection can be seen HERE.

Love & Light


  1. Wow, finally a look inside this amazing building. For years I’ve wondered. Thank you!

  2. Anonymous, you are most welcome. And yes, I have to agree with you. It's a pretty amazing place. I felt such a strong connection to it. There were so many incredible signs and synchronistic happenings around this photo shoot, going back many months, before I had even the slightest inkling I would be doing it, as it turns out. It was as if Ada herself was orchestrating the whole thing. And I really wouldn't be surprised if she was. It has been a deeply spiritual experience. I don't know that there are many such architectural gems in Melbourne. This one really is bit special. :)