Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ footage from a 1044km African odyssey – and other African journeys by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio


Youtube: River Gambia © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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‘Boys with Painted Faces‘ River Gambia © Jason Florio

River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ with photographer/writer, Jason Florio, and, producer/writer, Helen Jones-Florio. A journey, spanning three West African countries, to find the source of the River Gambia and to document the lives of those people who live, work, and rely on this mighty African river.

Interview with Outside Magazine – ‘Expedition Improv‘  HelenWe actually offered him (Yousef, our Malian fisherman/guide/hippo expert) more money to come further along the river with us but he had a family to get back to in Kédougou. We were sad to see him go. In that short week, he became a member of our little team, albeit a slightly bonkers one

Jason: “At one point, he was guiding us through these sections of rock and fast-moving water, and about 20 feet in front of us, a hippo just comes rearing out of the water. It had been submerged. We had startled it. We could have gone over the back of this thing, but instead we scrambled very quickly over onto the bank and climbed up on some rocks. For the next hour, he spent time shooting rocks at it from a homemade catapult. The thing wouldn’t move. We were back there clinging to the bushes and the rocks for an hour and a half. The hippo just didn’t want to let us get by—watching us, watching it, watching us. Eventually, we just kind of clung to the undergrowth and just pulled the canoe through really slowly. Finally, we got past him. That was a serious crash course in hippo etiquette” Read full interview here

To read about our first West African journey - ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey .Images of the village chiefs (Alkalos) and elders, ‘Silafando’, which were taken along the way, by Jason Florio.

Florio – interview with FlakPhoto – Making Pictures of People  “I had been working yearly in The Gambia since 1996 making portraits of people who live in a sacred forest. My wife Helen came up with the idea of making the first recorded circumnavigation of The Gambia by foot. So with three Gambians and two donkeys, we headed off around the country in November 2009. I decided to work in the same style as with the forest portraits, using a 70-year old cloth to formalize the setting.” full interview and images here

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Youtube – Florio makes a portrait of Alkalo Landing Jammeh, Kalaji, The Gambia – footage by Helen Jones-Florio

We’ll be updating soon on our next African journey…please stay with us

The Florios


Hagedorn Gallery, Atlanta, GA – Press Release about Jason Florio’s recent awards for his Gambia portraits

Hagedorn Gallary + Jason Florio Portraits

In 2011, the Hagedorn Gallery, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, exhibited Florio’s Makasutu‘ and ‘Silafando‘ portraits from The Gambia, West Africa. So, they were very happy to advertise the fact that portraits from both bodies of work have just received more awards: Black & White Spider Awards – ‘Honor of Distinction‘, 2012 & Px3 (Prix de la Photographie, Paris), 2012, ‘Portraiture/Culture‘ respectively.

Purely coincidentally, Abdou Ndong (who is the man in the portrait with the rescued crocodile) is an old friend and also one of our River Gambia 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’ team mates. His expertise as a river man and translator (he speaks three or four of the local West African language’s we will encounter on the journey) will be invaluable.

Flo & Abdou Makasutu

Abdou & Florio (with one of Abdou’s donkeys) – Makasutu Culture Forest, The Gambia, West Africa, 2009. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Above: Abdou and Florio. Abdou had come with a load of groundnut hay for our donkeys, just before we set off on what would become a 930km walk, in 2009. We had – on loan – two very willful, and precocious, donkeys by the names of ‘Paddy’ & ‘Neil’ (a little into the journey, Paddy was swapped over for an older – even more quick-witted! – donkey called Hadley) for ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey. They came fromThe Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust’, who do fantastic work down in West Africa, rehabilitating horses and donkeys.

Thanks to Hagedorn for sharing the news about the awards and huge respect to Alexandra LaFaou and Gordon Watkinson (an extremely talented photographer in his own right) at Foto + Synthesis – who run a traveling exhibition service that works closely with museums, photographers, curators and collectors – for getting the exhibition on in the first place.

And, of course, congrats to Mr Florio!!

Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio as he explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the River Gambia Expedition 2012: