Interview with Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio: ‘River Gambia Expedition’ – Connected by Far

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.57.40 AMThanks to our East Africa friend, Yvette Pennacchia, for her recently posted interview, on ‘Connected by Far‘,  with us about the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. Angry hippo’s, mutiny, and more !

Connected by Far: ‘What possesses a British couple to leave their apartment in New York City and decide to canoe 750km of the 1044km long River Gambia, in West Africa – one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers – in two Ally 811 Norwegian folding canoes, which they fondly named ‘The Twins’, and travel by motorcycles, local taxis, and a ancient, rusty 4×4 Land Cruiser to get to the source of the river and then back (one such ride took 24 hours over the rockiest of roads in the Fouta Djallon Highlands) to pick up their canoes from Kedougou, on the border of Senegal?‘…read more here

Looking back : the River Gambia Expedition team pay a visit to those people who will be displaced when the proposed dam is built

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.28.27 AM

The village of Runde Bara, Senegal – one of the villages which will be wiped out if the proposed dam on the River Gambia is built © Jason Florio

Tuesday 22nd October 2013: As Florio and I continue to carry on with the writing of our book about the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ we’re revisiting the journey, we completed in January of this year, day by day. Following is an excerpt from just one day out of the two months we spent on the road and canoeing the River Gambia – documenting the lives of those people who live and work on one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers -  through three West African countries – Guinea-Conakry, Senegal, and The Republic of The Gambia 

Blog post:December 12th, 2012

Back in Kedougou, Senegal – prepping to get ‘The Twins’ – Ally 811 canoes – onto the River Gambia + negotiations, Senegalese style.
Florio and Ebou return late afternoon, from the proposed site of the dam – which will result in the entire population of three villages being ‘relocated’ – on the Senegal side of the river and four to five on the Guinea-Conakry side. Florio had spoken with some of the local villagers in the area who had been told by the government, in 2011, that they were to stay where they were, for now. The reason being was that the dam construction workers would need to be fed and housed. However, the villagers would be ‘compensated for everything’. ‘Hey people, stick around for a bit longer, before we shove you off the land that you have lived on for hundreds of years – to a undetermined location – so that you can cook, launder and take care of the very people who are going to wipe your history right off the map!Read more here
Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.27.41 AM
Sightseeing on route to Runde Barra – Dindefalo waterfall, Senegal © Jason Florio
Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.28.09 AMTransport to Runde Barra – Moto-taxi rider, Senegal West Africa © Jason Florio
We also filmed during the entire expedition and recently, when we were invited to exhibit Florio’s ‘River Gambia‘ body of work at Photoville, New York, 2013, we put together a short piece of film for the event. Please click here or on the below images to view. ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.51.21 AM
More updates coming soon – particularly about the photography workshop we are prepping to teach, to young Gambian students, come December. Stay tuned!
Thanks, as ever, for checking in.
The Florios (H & Flo)

Female rice harvesters, Kaur, The Gambia – ‘River Gambia’ mages by Jason Florio

Members of the Santa Yalla kaffo (group) take a moment between harvesting rice from fields irrigated by the River Gambia. They are paid thirty Gambian Dalasis a day (80 US cents). Taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea Africa odyssey

Footage from the journey © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio : Youtube

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.01.36 AM

Click here or on the image to go to Youtube

‘River Gambia’ – images by Jason Florio from a 1044km source-sea African odyssey

‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. Take a journey with Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio - over landing from the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, canoeing through the gold-bearing lands of South East Senegal, and on into The Republic of The Gambia, where one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Moto-taxi-Fouta_DSF1381 copy

© Helen Jones-Florio

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 1.58.22 PM

Youtube: Too close encounter with a hippo © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Allys_H_Ebou_Abdou T5616x3744-00110 copy

© Jason Florio

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 4.21.47 PM

© Jason Florio

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.33.22 AM

Youtube: A ten-minute journey along the River Gambia © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

More about our journey in the forth coming book…more about that soon…

The Florios

Read about our 2009 expedition : ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-a 930km source-sea African odyssey’

 

 

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

Yourtube

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

Painted Faces_MG_2947

‘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

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.50.18 AM

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

 

Press: ‘A River Runs Through It’ – Arik Airlines ‘Wings’ Magazine – images by Jason Florio

Arik_MG_8095

Photography Jason Florio – Words Jason Florio with Helen Jones-Florio

JF: “In 2009 my wife Helen and I escaped our New York home and took off on a 930km circumnavigation of The Republic of The Gambia by foot, along with three Gambian friends and two donkeys.

Seven days into our 42-day walk, we both decided that this journey would be a warm-up for something bigger. We had no idea at that exact moment what the ‘something bigger’ might be, but as Picasso once said: ‘“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Well, in this case, it was to find us walking…” read the whole article 

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 11.03.09 AM

Jason Florio at Bonto Pier, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

Excerpts taken from the forthcoming book about the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

Until next year, Photoville – thanks for hosting the ‘River Gambia’ exhibition

PV Laura 20130929_999_35 copy

Day 8 – ‘action stations, everyone, we’re about to open the gates!’ – the lovely Laura Roumanos, United Photo Industries © Helen Jones-Florio

Flo_filming_PV 20130929_999_56 copy

Florio gets down to the business of filming our time at Photoville 2013 © Helen Jones-Florio

Florie_PV 20130929_999_49 copy

The Girl in the Hat photographs The Boy in the Fur Coat – budding photographer and our neighbors daughter, Florie © Helen Jones-Florio 

Sunday 26th September – the last day of Photoville 2013

Big thanks to the supremely efficient Photoville organizers: Laura Roumanos, Sam Barzilay, and Dave Shelly, of United Photo Industries - and all their staff and volunteers – who helped make the photo destination village an immense event, of some phenomenal photography, workshops, and talks. Thanks to these guys, our ‘River Gambia’ journey was viewed by 1000′s of people over two four day weekends. As they trekked in and out of our shipping container, we took them on our epic journey – ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ – images by Jason Florio, curated by yours truly, River Gambia video footage by both of us, and presented by the Virginia Quarterly Review. And, an even bigger thanks to VQR for making the exhibit at PV 2013 possible! Thanks also to Pascal Prince of ‘A Small Light Room‘ for the sublime large format print of ‘Ebrima in Fur‘ – who was there with Mandinka greetings of ‘nimbara, nimbara’, from his vantage point on our container door, to all who passed through.

Last but definitely not least, thanks to every single person who came to view the fruits of our labor:  from the River Gambia’s humble source in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, paddling through the gold bearing lands of Senegal and along the length of The Republic of The Gambia to the Atlantic ocean. We traveled 300km by motorcycle/4×4 and 744km by canoe – creating a photographic and written account along the way, of the tribes and communities whose traditional lifestyle and livelihood depend upon this mighty African waterway.

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 10.22.25 AM

‘Malian Fisherwoman‘ River Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio – one of the most popular prints we sold at PV

And for all of those people who purchased Florio’s prints at Photoville, we truly hope you enjoy having a small slice of the enchanting River Gambia in your homes. For anyone who missed out and would like to check out Florio’s fine art photography prints, please visit our on-line galleries – Black and White Collection and Color Collection.

And the day turned into the night…

PV_night_RGE_MG_0447

 …and the crowds are thinning out. Time to go home… © Jason Florio

Empty2_PV_MG_0496

What ‘River Gambia’?! © Jason Florio

End_PV_H&Flo_MG_0507

And it’s good night from him and goodnight from her – The Florios are leaving the building – photo courtesy of Kisha Bari

It was great to be part of a community of like-minded people. We hope to see you all again next year.

The Florio’s (H & Flo)

P.S. we’ll be posting a gallery of Photoville images over the coming days, with links to some of the great exhibits at PV 2013 -  keep an eye out!

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.39.21 PM

‘River Gambia’ at Photoville 2013 was sponsered by the Virginia Quarterly Review

Day 8: ‘River Gambia’ final day exhibiting at Photoville, NY – Jason Florio’s images of life along one of Africa last free-flowing major rivers

FLO PV skyline 20130928_999_14 copy

Florio man’s the stand, Photoville 2013 © Helen Jones-Florio

_MG_6603

Alkalo (village chief) of Karantaba, The Gambia, preparing his fishing net in the River Gambia – just one of the prints we have on sale at Photoville © Jason Florio  

Saturday 25th September

Another great, and extremely busy, day at Photoville - we didn’t sit down from noon-10pm. Our shipping container runneth over! The interest in Florio’s ‘River Gambia‘ series, from our 1044km source-sea African odyssey has been incredible.

We’ll both be there again today – from noon-8.30pm. Come on by and check out our West Africa journey. And, we still have a limited number of Jason Florio’s prints left – at a very special Photoville-only-price – from three bodies of work, taken in West Africa: ‘Makasutu‘, ‘Silafando‘, and, of course, ‘River Gambia‘ (including the one pictured above, of the chief fishing).

Photoville is a wondrous event – not to be missed. Workshops, talks, exhibitions, beer garden, food trucks…with a magnificent view of Manhattan thrown into the mix.

So, get on down there! All the details you need are here

And, don’t forget to stop by and allow us to take you on our epic West African river odyssey.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 1.59.23 PM

H and Florio at Photoville 2013 © Chris Bartlett (thanks for our ‘official’ PV 2013 portrait, Chris!)

Big thanks, as ever, to the Virginia Quarterly Review for supporting our Photoville 2013 event.

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 10.02.09 AM

 

 

Day 6: Snapshots from a Photo Destination – NY art students come and check out the ‘River Gambia’ with Jason Florio at Photoville

Friday 27th September – Florio left home early to get to the Photoville site in Brooklyn, to show and tell all about the ‘River Gambia‘ exhibit to art class students from school in New York.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 7.52.24 AM

Image courtesy of Julie Grahame ‘aCurator’

Thanks for Julie Grahame, aCurator, for the above social media sharing of Mr Florio in full Flo! Julie, and other PV exhibitors, also gave up there spare time to get in early, to enlightened students about all things photography. Julie is exhibiting the rather special work of Jim Mortram ‘Small Town Inertia‘ in her shipping container at Photoville – well worth checking out…thought-provoking stuff from Mr M.

“Jim Mortram is up-front about his own situation as a full-time caregiver, and in what spare time he has he photographs people in the margins, people in difficult circumstances – mentally or physically ill or just plain in-trouble. He gives them space to tell their stories, and the results are intimate and non-judgmental. Jim photographs warmly, with obvious compassion and investment in people’s lives. “No matter who I shoot I want to shoot them forever!” Julie Grahame/aCurator

aCurator are currently running our River Gambia story too…check it out here

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 8.01.06 AM

aCurator – ‘River Gambia’ Images © Jason Florio

As usual, Florio and I will both be there to walk you through our ‘River Gambia – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. So, please stop by and walk into a slice of West African river life – as we take you on a journey from the source of one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers (as in, it may soon be dammed, thereby changing the existence of most of those whose livelihoods depend on the river…along with natural habitat for animals) – over landing and canoeing, from the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, into Senegal, and then on through to The Gambia and our journey’s end, at the Atlantic Ocean

We hope to see you at Photoville for Day 7 – another packed day of exhibitions, talks, workshops (including FlakPhoto/Andy Adams – talk and beer garden meet up) and parties in the beer garden, overlooked by the monumental Manhattan skyline.

The Florios (H & Flo)

helen_Photoville_0776

© Jason Florio – Photoville 2013

River Gambia‘ presented by Virginia Quarterly Review

Day 5: Snapshots from a Photo Destination – New York City skies over the ‘River Gambia’

Stormy sky2 PV 20130926_999_3 copy

© Helen Jones-Florio  – From this…

Sunset_PV 20130926_999_19 copy

© Helen Jones-Florio. …to this.

Florio and I are back at Photoville for part two of what we just know will be another exciting time of catching up with old friends, making new ones, and having the rather magnificent Manhattan skyline as our vista for the next three days.

Come along and let us both take you on an epic journey along the ‘River Gambia’ – a 1044km source-sea African odyssey – over landing to the humble source of a mighty African river, in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, motorcycling back down the mountain, getting our canoes into the River Gambia for the first time in Southeast Senegal, and on through the length of The Gambia itself, to the Atlantic Ocean and our journey’s end…or is it?

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 8.53.53 AM

The source of the River Gambia © Jason Florio

We hope to see you there. Click here for all the details on Photoville

Helen & Jason Florio

Presented by the Virginia Quarterly Review :River Gambia‘ images by Jason Florio, curated by Helen Jones-Florio

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 8.45.22 AM