2020. 20/20. Perfect vision. The year we were forced to slow down, stop working, stop spending, curb our consumption and really sit with ourselves and one another without farce or filter, and well, it hasn’t been easy, but growth never is. The wounds we have inflicted upon our earth, our people, our economy and our fragile democracy are festering in the beginnings of great change in COVID-19, the BLM and #MeToo movements, the obvious evil in 1% of the world’s population owning over half of the world’s capital, and the symptom of Trump. My hope is that we emerge out of this chaos with a new respect for the collective and a rejection of complacency. Did you know that one of the only ways to naturally increase your oxytocin (the love hormone) is to do something nice for someone else? Let’s aim to grow out of this era with that miracle in mind.
I usually focus solely on professional highlights in this annual roundup, but 2020 was an exception as I didn’t get to work much and my personal life was quite the rollercoaster. So I will pepper my top ten professional highlights with the personal events that deserve a mention here as well. Let’s get to it!
- The Goddess Array V.3
In February I showed fourteen new goddesses and launched The Goddess Array book in a show at #Hashtag Gallery. So many wonderful people came out to support the work in the middle of winter. Here is what the press had to say about it:
“The photos on display represent four years of work—shot here in Ontario, but also in California, Quebec, and Ibiza. Snapping women in the nude, against magnificent natural backdrops, is not a new idea, but the way Toole’s subjects appear is refreshing: each exude a kind of comfort and confidence that most of us long for. Toole describes her series as a way for women to claim more space, or “a defiant act of freedom”. The project was inspired by her love and appreciation of Greek mythology. “Greek Goddesses are diverse, archetypal and mythological in proportion,” she says, and thus began an epic adventure to shoot powerful Goddesses in her own life. “The models are real life goddesses in their own realms.” Women who all exude a strength that Toole feels, and admires.”She Does the City
There are some wonderful photos of the opening and party events at the following links:
There are four copies of the book left. It is an 11″ by 16.5″ paperback coffee table book featuring the full photo series of The Goddess Array each accompanied by a sonnet detailing the myth of each goddess. There is a perforated tear-out print of Nike Goddess of Victory in every copy numbered and signed. 90 pages. Limited edition. You can get yours HERE.
There was a video installation piece up at the show as well entitled ‘Nymphs Bathing’ which you can take a peek at below if you need a little escape:
Unprofessional Interlude #1. The Covid Diaries I hit the road after my gallery show heading to Brussels for a Eurotrip with my brother Jake who was working at a wind farm there for a bit. We bathed and raved in Budapest, almost died in a prop plane to Prague, and hit up Paris for fashion week. Then I head home for a day before taking off to Nassau for my bachelorette party week which started off with my girlfriends and I getting robbed at gunpoint. And then COVID hit! Read the whole story with photos via the links below. The truth really is stranger than fiction: 1/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Brussels, Feb. 20 2/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Budapest, Feb. 22 3/10 Covid -19 Travel Diary: Prague, Feb. 23 4/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Paris, Feb. 24 5/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Toronto, Feb. 28 6/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 2 7/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 3 8/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Paradise Island, Mar. 4 9/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 5 10/10 Covid-19 Travel Diary: Nassau, Mar. 6
2. RICV – PVLOMO x GALO x TKUZ
The RICV music video I created for PVLOMO x GALO x TKUZ on the Controlla label out of Mexico City is a barbie acid trip dance video starring my bestie and magical dancer/choreographer Jenny-Anne McCowan. The video premiered in January on Como Las Grecas, a techno blog out of Amsterdam. They wrote (translated from Spanish):
“A collage as attractive as it is hypnotic, plays with a multitude of Internet resources, a way to reuse the most common images, from memes to excerpts from videos of other times, to configure a unique unit, just as unique as the track: Eclectic, overwhelming and sexy. Both visually and its sound, they easily transport us to another dimension. A candy that you can not miss. Enjoy it!”
3. Goddess Remix Project
For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a talented aerosol artist / graffiti king who writes ‘FATHOM’ all over the world, but especially in Toronto. A woman who was admiring his work while out for a walk with her kids in Roncey contacted him inquiring about a commission this Summer. After much discussion, my work got thrown in the mix and an enormous FATHOM piece with a Nike, Goddess of Victory ink transfer was decided upon. The process and result were so delightful to us we continued with remixes of Bia and Pheme from The Goddess Array. Do you like them? Should we do more?
Unprofessional Interlude #2. Bloordale Art Thief On Dec. 28th we got home from a glorious Christmas getaway to a completely smashed in front window and two pieces of stolen art. The two collaborations pictured above, 'Bia Remix' and 'Pheme Remix,' are one-of-a-kind ink printed on canvas with aerosol and acrylic paint. They are 2 x 3 ft and very special to us. If anyone has any information on their whereabouts please let us know. Cash reward!
4. Locke & Key Season 2
I had the wonderful opportunity to work on season two of Locke and Key this winter. With three full-time camera teams, two camera trucks, two full-time utilities, a DIT and a DMT it was certainly the largest camera team I’ve ever been a part of. I learned so much as we did awesome catch and release Ronin shots and made magic happen with the special effects team. Forbes announced season one to be the second most watched Netflix production in 2020, second only to Tiger King, but who can compete with Carol Baskin anyway? She’s a legend!
‘Photos to Nourish’ was a print sale featuring the work of an array of Canadian photographers, created with the intention of raising funds for Food Banks Canada to support their heightened need for donations in the face of the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. 100% of proceeds from sales were donated. I was delighted to offer up prints of ‘Pomona Stands, Goddess of Fruit’ from The Goddess Array series as part of the sale. With your support, Photos to Nourish raised $10,000+ for Food Banks Canada. We extend a huge thank you to each and every person who made this possible, and supported the initiative.
Unprofessional Interlude #3. We got married! We flew out to Vancouver Island in August for a small Covid-style wedding with our closest family and friends. It was totally surreal and magical; the perfect day to celebrate our love. And to top it all off, we had our honeymoon resort all to ourselves! Here's to bending plans to make these restrictions work in our favour while being safe and healthy. xo
We didn’t win, but it still felt good to receive a nomination from the London-based establishment for The Goddess Array series in the Professional Nudes category.
Unprofessional Interlude #4. Cottage Season With the city in lockdown this Summer we felt luckier than ever to have a cottage to escape to whenever the opportunity arose. We could feel free and relaxed up north away from the city with no one around, in nature, breathing the fresh air and jumping in the lake. Here are some of my favourite photos from the cottage this Summer.
7. Pretty Hard Cases
Pretty Hard Cases is a brand new buddy-cop CBC comedy starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is the New Black) as two detectives in their 40s with opposing personalities and similarly incongruous approaches to police work. The result is a hilarious show with refreshingly strong and unique female leads. It was a pleasure to get back to work with this camera team in the Autumn after the long shut down due to Covid-19. Grateful to be back, we all donned our masks and visors and doused ourselves in hand sanitizer and volunteered for regular testing to make sure we could keep on working. A small price to pay for pandemic-era employment! Safety first! Pretty Hard Cases premieres February 3rd at 9PM on CBC!
8. One Plant Kensington
First of all, thank goodness weed shops were deemed an essential service through this pandemic mess, am I right?! The shiny brand new and enormous One Plant Kensington opened to the public in Spring 2020 and had me out to shoot some promo and product shots. We are currently in the design phase of the campaign roll-out so keep an eye out for the launch. In the meantime here is a little tease of what we got starring the seductive Sonia. Check out One Plant for all your cannabis needs.
Unprofessional Interlude #5. Dad's Death My Dad crashed his plane on October 13th, 2020 and didn't live to tell the tale. My family and I are still reeling from the loss with broken hearts. Our lives are forever changed. I miss him so bad every single day. Make sure you tell the ones you love how much they mean to you as often as you can because you never know what life will bring your way tomorrow. Here are some photos of his Celebration of Life in Davie, Florida: Celebration of Life
9. One Hundred Bells
My dear friend and colleague Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens published her book entitled ‘One Hundred Bells’ this past November. It’s a hardcover coffee table book full of gorgeous illustrations by Carly Jo Carson, luscious photos of Jessica’s work by myself and Suzanne Strong, and of course Jessica’s inspiring, educational story. Viola writes about her life’s journey into becoming a steward of the earth, a business owner, a mother and how her growth and lessons have been mirrored and taught by the way her gardens grow. The book follows this metaphor of life as a garden throughout, leading to wonderful revelations that ground the reader deep into their roots. By taking the elements of permaculture and teaching us how they can be applied not only to our gardens but to our entire lives as we evolve and grow, Viola reveals a splendid ideal lifestyle to strive for that is inherently in tune with nature. The book is now available HERE. Do your soul a favour and order your copy now. xo
Unprofessional Interlude #6. River's Wedding! My little brother River and his beautiful bride Bronte got married on the ranch while we were down there for Dad's Celebration of Life. I was so delighted we were able to attend! The pouring rain stopped just in time for the ceremony and all River's sweet friends and family came out to celebrate. You can see the photos here: River & Bronte's Ranch Wedding
10. Blackout Rage
In January 2020 I shot my first dramatic short film with the most wonderful team at the Grand Canyon Theatre in Toronto’s west end. I took on the writing, directing, shooting, and editing of the project in a learning experience for myself. Needless to say, I am still working on the edit. I am excited to share it with you once it is finished, if I ever manage to finish it. The process has been invaluable and I appreciate my cast’s patience with the release very much. In the meantime here are a few screenshots to give you a taste of what’s to come starring Celia Jade Green, Ethan Laniado and Pancho Bhogal. The film is entitled Blackout Rage and follows a young woman’s exploration of her unconscious act of violence on her boyfriend and it’s roots in her childhood trauma. Wish me luck!
And that’s a wrap on my craziest year to date. To all of you reading this thanks for taking the time and thank you for your support. I am full of gratitude for each and every one of you. May 2021 bring you change for the better, mental health, physical health, and the courage to follow your dreams against all odds. I will leave you with my favourite selfie of 2020, taken during a nap in Paris when life was but a dream. Love you longtime, Jen. xo