By Julia Wallace
Mick Fleetwood and John McVie have a lot in common. Both have spent the better part of their adult lives in the rhythm section of Fleetwood Mac, their namesake, and aside from being credited as writers alongside all of their Rumours–era bandmates on “The Chain”, neither of them wrote songs for the band.
Instead, the two share a different passion – photography.
“I really became aware of photo-taking through John McVie”, declared Fleetwood, who stopped to speak at the opening of his Reflections exhibit at the Liss Gallery in Toronto. “It was his secret weapon – he never talked about it. I wish he would do something with some of the stuff that he has.”
Fleetwood may not be a songwriter, but this is as close to writing songs as he can get. He’s careful to point out that nothing desperate pushed him to take up photography – there was no pent up creative frustration that stemmed from spending all those years in the rhythm section. Nothing was missing; instead photography has enabled him to take control of a vehicle for which he is fully responsible. “I’m a moving part in a band called Fleetwood Mac, but it doesn’t do this. It does a hell of a lot of other stuff, but this is just me.”
When he’s behind the kit, he’s part of something. When he’s standing in a room surrounded by his photographs, he’s vulnerable and alone – in a positive way. “It’s opened a little door of creativity.”
Fleetwood has been taking photographs since the ‘60s and admits he has a collection at home of “more than I could probably count,” which begs the question of how he filtered through and narrowed it down to the 26 pieces that made the cut.
“In truth, it was feedback from all the lovely people who helped put this together… And I’m really happy. Some of these I would have said ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, does this go with that?’ But I really feel that all of this is a nice way of saying ‘Hello’ with what I do.”
There’s something deeply personal about the images, many of which were taken to document the journey of moving his mother, now 98, from her native England to his new home in Hawaii. The images are tranquil yet striking, and it’s easy to see that even Fleetwood himself plays favourites with them. Upon arriving at the gallery, he made a beeline for a framed photograph on display at the back of the room simply titled “Wooden Gate.” It’s a picture of a gate on a long road leading to a hill. At the top of which sits a single cross. He gives it the thumbs up.
The image is calm – a simple meditation on all the proverbial gates one must pass through in order to find peace.
“As of the moment, there are no thigh shots of women and stuff, which maybe seem to be expected from an old rock’n’roller like myself, but it’s a calm feeling that seems to be welcomed… They all seem to have this tempo to them – certainly as of the moment, until I become the ‘wild artiste,’” he laughs and strikes a dramatic pose. “Then I can say that was my something-something period, but at the moment this is my way of totally doing my thing.”
It’s obvious that any trepidation Fleetwood may have had about putting his art out there for the world to see is already beginning to fade. It’s nice to see him take full responsibility for something outside of Fleetwood Mac, and offer sincere advice to those who have given up creative passions, “Start doing it again. Writing bad poetry late at night in your bedroom is A-OK. It’s the doing, if you love it, and a lot of people forget about that.”