My dear friend and colleague Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens published her book entitled ‘One Hundred Bells’ this month. The final product is 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
Not to be totally cliche here, but looking back on 2018 has me feeling so much gratitude that I get to do what I love and make money doing it. I am so grateful to be free and able to express myself creatively. It is not lost on me what a privilege this is. That being said, here is a little bit of what I got up to professionally this past year. My top ten highlights of 2018:
A book! The entire Goddess Array on your coffee table! It’s a dream come true. I have spent the past four years shooting these contemporary incantations of ancient Greek goddesses in the nude with their totems of power in spectacular locations all over the world. Now that the series is complete it will be commemorated in print on coated silk paper tucked into an embossed linen hardcover of the highest quality. I have penned a sonnet detailing the frequency and history of each goddess to be displayed beside each photo. It’s an art book of the highest quality, visually scintillating, well-researched, and curious to read. Each goddess is an archetype that puts a face onto one of the innumerable moods a woman can embody every day. The book will run a limited edition of 100 signed copies. They are available at a discounted rate for preorder now on jennifertoole.com. Preorder yours now to ensure you get one! Here are a few shots taken behind the scenes on location for The Goddess Array in 2018:
The ‘Pachanga’ video is a socially conscious acid trip that leaves you feeling turned on and grossed out at the same time. The artists, based in Mexico City, pushed me over the limits of my editing skills and into a zone I had never been in before, which is always at the same time scary and thrilling. It was an evolutionary learning experience to direct the talent and create visuals that gave life to this epic song. I am forever grateful to my amazing team who came out to support me on this crazy music video adventure and to the artists for trusting me with their music.
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Toole // MUA: Elena Pacienza // HAIR: Amber Fairlie @ The Manor Salon // STYLING: Megan Ann Wilson // CHOREO: Jenny-Anne McCowan // TALENT: Ximena, Nohemie Renaud, Meredith Jay, Sarah Toole
3) In Full Bloom: A Dance Film
This film came to life in the most organic creative process with my dear friend, constant muse, and expert modern dance choreographer, Jenny-Anne McCowan. Last winter, on a whim, Jenny-Anne offered to choreograph and teach me a solo dance piece. We began to train in the ice cold studio, warming up our muscles with ballet movements and efforts at completing the splits before we would tackle the choreography. I’ve included a very embarrassing but amazing video of one of our sessions below. I suggested we turn the choreography into a video and “In Full Bloom” is the result. Every time I work with Jenny-Anne we make something of beauty and heal a bit in the process. xo
…& the process…
SOUNDTRACK: DIE ANTWOORD – FOK JULLE NAAIERS (GOD’S WICKED JUNGLE REMIX) (Instrumental)
4) Group Shows
I was asked to show works in four group shows this year, which was an honor. “Hey Y’All” at Only One Gallery, “Portraits Exhibition” at Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece, “Hear Here: intersections,” and “The Soulfood Toronto” respectively.
We’ve carved out an art nook in Bloordale Village. A little slice of storefront on Bloor West just east of Ossington is now up and running as the tiniest art gallery in Toronto curated by myself and my partner, David Mussio. The space is currently home to an eclectic group show of works by our nearest and dearest artist friends. Follow me @jentoole on Instagram to get updates and receive calls for submissions. xo
6) Sheridan Camera Course
In my first foray back to school in many years, and my first formal education in anything camera-related ever, I completed Sheridan’s two-week long-format camera assistant course and it was worth every penny. We got to play with the best equipment in the industry, had a day trip to the set of Suits, got lessons from Hollywood veterans (including one of our teachers who pulled focus on Legend of the Fall), and gained the knowledge needed to be an excellent member of any camera team making a feature film or TV series. I’m taking the steps to be upgraded into the International Cinematographers Union and this course was a great addition to my application. Wish me luck!
Last January I met up with Demi and she told me about her dream to create a safe space online where mothers could share their stories with one another free from any artifice or filters. A new mum herself, Demi found her experience to be worsened by the pressures social media put on her to be a “perfect mother.” We got together and did a little photoshoot and video shoot and The Motherland Collective was born. A year later the movement has grown into a real community providing safe spaces for parents/mothers in the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community including birth services, workshops and advocacy. Demi is a doula herself and obviously a goddess of the highest order. Check out www.motherlandcollective.com for more of her goodness.
8) Commercial Work
My bread and butter! It was another busy year in the commercial world in Toronto thankfully and I cut my chops further in the production and camera departments on set. TIFF was especially exciting this year with a couple of star-studded shoots for Vanity Fair featuring Samira Wiley (Handmaid’s Tale, Orange is the New Black) and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give), both incredible women to meet. We shot an iPhone commercial starring Kevin Bacon and Simon Bird, which was also a blast. And the list goes on. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to enter into the at times elusive world of film and I’m so excited to move into long format this year! Much thanks yet again and always to Miss Lisa Ericsson, my P.M. angel. Here’s to a busy 2019!
I am embarking upon my fourth year working with Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens, an ecological landscape design firm in L.A., running their socials and website. The brand is a dream for me to step into twice weekly. It’s a world of growth, permaculture, sustainability, design, health, and inspirations. Follow us on Instagram @violagardens to see the journey. We have big things planned for 2019!
10) Event Photography
I love shooting events. Everyone is dressed to impress and usually receptive to me and my pesky camera asking for a photo. The collection of photos the end of the night tells the whole story from start to finish and memories are made. It’s the best. I shot mostly private events this year and am sadly not allowed to share the photos, but here are a few from The Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Toronto exhibit, which is always a special time.
2018 was awesome. Here’s to a thrilling year ahead! Thanks for reading. xo
I had the pleasure of shooting this stellar, permaculture, drought-tolerant, landscape design by Viola Gardens at a Malibu Beach residence today. Viola introduced me to the design philosophy that is permaculture and I’m hooked. The most poetic permaculture lesson I learned was to keep a focus on the edges of things, as it is often in the space between, not in the things themselves, where new growth occurs.